eat….drink….and be merry….it makes life better!
Bread! I love it! Who doesn’t? Right?!?…..Yes, fresh out of the oven with a slather of rich creamy butter (I will show you how to make your own homemade butter on a future post…stay tuned 😉 ). YUM! The Italians and the French have got it down! I am so fortunate to have fresh “Arthur Avenue” bread any time I want. My husband (the Italian) has fresh bread delivered daily to his restaurant straight from Arthur Avenue ( http://www.arthuravenuebronx.com ) in the Bronx of New York. If you live any where near NYC than you know exactly what I am talking about. OMG!!! The bread…the bread…from any bakery on Arthur is to die for!!!! They are right up there with fresh baked croissants from Paris! (This should be on your “Bucket List” 😉 ) Which brings me to my bread baking marathon. I have made so many types of bread that are okay, but this one is perfect! (after many twists to many recipes I have slightly modified Williams-Sinoma’s Crusty Country Loaf recipe). It does require a Cloche (French for Bell) style baking/roasting dish that has a lid, but, no worries if you don’t have one a Dutch Oven works fine. Or in my case I used a clay roasting dish. You do need a baking dish with a lid so the heat can stay in and the effect of a brick oven can be achieved. That is why the best breads are baked in a brick oven. I did bake a few loaves on my pizza stone with no pan at all, but, found the inside of the bread was more dense and the crust was not so crusty. So, if it’s authentic crusty bread you want to achieve, follow me and let’s make some bread. You can bake a loaf in about 3 -4 hours from beginning to end, and it will be perfect! Crunchy on the outside and and light on the inside….I cannot wait for my loaf to come out of the oven!!! I will be making this bread many many more times!
You must gather the following:
1 Package of Yeast
1 Teaspoon of Sugar
1/4 Cup of Warm Water
5 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 1/2 Cups of Warm Water
1 Clay or Ceramic Roasting Dish with a Lid or a Dutch Oven
Butter for Greasing
Mix yeast and sugar into the 1/4 cup of warm water and let sit for approximately 5 minutes and becomes bubbly. In a large free standing mixer blend (using a dough hook) together flour and salt and then add the 1 1/2 cups of warm water and the yeast mixture and blend until dough is mixed well and has formed a ball. This will take about 8 minutes. Transfer dough to a well floured surface and need until dough is soft and easy to knead.
Let your dough rest and grease your mixing bowl with butter and return dough in the shape of a ball to the mixing bowl.. Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and let rise for 70 minutes in a warm area of your house. Make sure the dough has doubled in size and punch down the dough and return to floured work surface and knead a few more times (5 or six times should do it). Shape dough into a ball and let rest for 5 minutes. While your dough is resting, cut a piece of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of your baking dish.
The Williams and Sonoma recipe calls for corn meal or semolina to be placed on the bottom of the baking dish, when testing, the bread was very hard and was not easy to slice. Just sayin…..Place dough in your baking dish…
and cover with the lid and let stand for another 70 minutes or until it has doubled in size. Remove lid and make cut marks on top with a sharp knife and sprinkle with flour from your work surface.
Place in a 450 degree oven and bake for 15 minutes with the lid on, then reduce heat to 400 and continue baking for 45 more minutes with the lid on. Remove lid and bake for additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before removing and placing on cooling rack. It will easily slide out of your baking dish. This is what my baking dish looked like after removing my bread…
no cooked on mess!! 🙂 And oh my…fresh baked bread….your guests will be asking for more and the recipe!!!