banana blueberry muffins
It took me awhile, and had to psych myself up for this, but there was no need for all the fear of baking bread. Using Jim Lahey of Grandaisy Bakery’s recipe everyone can definitely make this bread. A minute here, a minute there and the yeast does all the work. The simplicity of the ingredients and of the method produce one of those great moments, where, as in the Pixar movie “Ratatouille”, the bread actually made fantastic crackling sounds the moment I set it on the wire rack to cool. The sound, let alone the great smell of freshly baked bread was too much to bear. BUT... good things come to those who wait, and the bread has to cool for at least an hour for the crust to harden and retain the moist interior. A great accomplishment -- for so little work!
3 cups (360g) bread flour + more for dusting
1¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp active dry yeast (really, that's all!)
1½ cups (350ml) warm water
In a medium-sized bowl, stir to combine the flour, salt and yeast.
Add the water and stir for about 30 seconds until combined.
Cover with parchment paper and a pan lid and let this rest at room temperature for 12-18 hours until the dough should be more than doubled in size. Overnight is your best bet.
Using a spatula to help scrape the mass of sticky dough out of the bowl, onto a generously floured, long piece of parchment paper. Sprinkle flour on top of the dough and on to your hands, or you can try to use utensils, like a couple of knives instead. It is VERY sticky! Roughly form a long, skinny, baguette-like shape. Fold over the parchment paper an let rest again in a draft-free spot for 1-2 hours, until it almost doubles again.
Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C) and insert a large baking tray.
When ready to bake, you can brush the top with oil, or plant milk and give a good sprinkle of sea salt and some small sprigs of rosemary, if you like. Lift the parchment paper up place on to the hot baking tray. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown.
Let the loaf cool for an hour before cutting (if you can resist the temptation!) This resting period is important gives the crust its delicious crunch while keeping the inside moist.
When cooled completely, store in a brown paper bag, or a make a parchment paper bag, stapling the sides together. If you don't plan on eating it within a few days, slice and store the bread in the freezer for future use.
SEVEN GRAIN VARIATION: 2 cups bread flour, ½ cup stone ground whole wheat flour, ¾ cup seven grain cereal*, 1 tsp salt, ¼ tsp yeast, 1½ cups water. (*This is a grain mix for a hot cereal, like porridge. I buy mine from the bulk section at Whole Foods.)
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