I was reminded last month that making bread can be quite the labor of love. Julia Child’s French Bread took forever to make. While I was looking for a creative way to pay homage to Julia and her 10-hour bread, I ran across a no-knead “wet dough” recipe in, surprise, the New York Times.
Since stumbling across the recipe last month, we’ve made three batches. It’s pretty easy to pull off just enough for a small loaf of hot, fresh bread with dinner every night. The dough produces a good crust and a light, chewy crumb. It’s also quite pretty
Simple Crusty Bread
Chewy, crusty bread shaped in the form of a wheat stalk.
- 1 1/2 Tbsp yeast
- 1 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt (I used sea salt)
- 6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough
- In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).
- Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put dough on pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.
- Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.
- Dust dough with flour, slash top with serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide onto stone. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely.
- Variation: If not using stone, stretch rounded dough into oval and place in a greased, nonstick loaf pan. Let rest 40 minutes if fresh, an extra hour if refrigerated. Heat oven to 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Place pan on middle rack.
- You can find a wonderful pictorial on forming the Pan d'Epi here.
Yields: 4 loaves
Estimated time: 2 hours