Outside of that machine, I’d never made homemade bread before.
Why had I never made homemade bread before? Well, generally you come across one or all of the following terms in a bread recipe: benching, proofing, punching down, etc.
All of those things send me running for the hills. I’m a much more “feel as I go” cook. I use recipes as guidelines and breadmaking isn’t exactly the niche to do that in. Also, I feel like if the water isn’t the EXACT temperature or ingredients aren’t measured perfectly you’ll end up with a brick. I don’t like bricks and butter.
But then the skies opened up and a ray of bread-based light shown down.
I stumbled across a glorious image of a crusty, artisanal loaf on Pinterest and the caption heavily emphasized how easy the bread was to make. That led me to the blog, Simply So Good and her post for crusty bread. The origins, technique, and recipe for this bread are unknown to me–frankly they’re so simple we may never know. It may even have been this New York Times article from 2006.
Regardless of where this technique came from, it’s life changing. I absolutely cannot believe this dough was so easy to put together and the end result came out of my oven. All you need is 4 of the most basic ingredients and a enameled cast iron Dutch oven.
While this recipe is easy, the dough needs to be left alone for 12-18 hours so you do need to think ahead in terms of when you’d like to serve this crusty loaf. That down time is the only downside.
Since the end result has such a high payoff and it takes all of 5 minutes to prepare, this recipe is wonderful for hostess and new neighbor gifts, and would be fabulous for parties. Of course, I would use the fact that it’s Sunday…or Tuesday…or any day to justify making this bread.
The other great thing about this recipe is that it’s just a base–you could do countless variations (three I’ve included below) to suit whatever your need is.
I’ve always wondered why people had those large drawers in their kitchens, filled especially with big bins of flour. Now that I’m on my third 5lb bag in two weeks…I’m starting to see the logic.
Welcome to the light my friends.