Whew! What a week it's been! Are you hanging in there? Need a little time away from all the craziness? I have one idea that'll help--no, it won't solve world problems, but it might make you feel better: baking bread. And not just any bread, but this no-knead, pretty much foolproof Peasant Bread, the brainchild of Alexandra Stafford, author of Bread Toast Crumbs: Recipes for No-Knead Loaves & Meals To Savor Every Slice, that tastes fantastic, makes your house smell amazing and brings you back to the basics of life without requiring all that much time or effort. For these and so many more reasons, Bread Toast Crumbs is the subject of this week's Famous Fridays. Now more than ever, comfort food is not just a luxury, but a necessity!!
Maybe you have always wanted to bake your own bread (like me). Maybe it's not just because of a nostalgic desire but also because you can control all the ingredients and keep things natural (like me). Maybe you've tried to bake your own yeasty loaves, spending hours kneading and letting them rise, only to wind up with dense, gummy, stomach-hurting lumps of dough that get tossed in the garbage (also like me). Well, you can kiss those bread-failure-days goodbye! That's because Alexandra has a disaster-free method that requires little more than mixing the ingredients together, allowing the dough to rise and baking. And the book is filled with tons of variations, even gluten free ones.
Now, back to this Peasant Bread, a soft, white airy crumb with a crunchy crust that is the basis upon which all the other breads in the book are modeled. In a large bowl, you mix together flour, salt, sugar, yeast and water until a sticky dough forms and allow it to rise until doubled. You simply use a pair of forks to deflate and then divide the dough...
...Which you then transfer into generously buttered Pyrex bowls. Then while the oven is preheating, you let the dough rise again and bake it. It really is that simple!! Totally worth investing in the two bowls!!
And then some 40 minutes later--TADA!!!--two adorable, round, golden loaves sit on your counter while you bask in the unhassled glow of home-baked bread achievement!
It's fabulous on its own but swoon-worthy with slathered with butter...
Or toasted with jam!
So if baking bread is something you've been hankering to do, pick up a copy of Bread Toast Crumbs and see how easy it is to incorporate it into your regular routine. Remember, we can't control the world, but we can control the quality of our bread consumption! Have a happy, yummy and safe holiday weekend!!
Bread Toast Crumbs' No-Knead Peasant Bread-Famous Fridays
Makes two 14-ounce loaves
You will need two 1 quart Pyrex bowls.
Prep time for dough: 5 minutes to mix together, then about 1 ½ hours for the first rise and then another 20 minutes for second rise; Bake Time: 35-40 minutes
- 4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 cups lukewarm water (made by combining ½ cup boiling water and 1 ½ cups cold water)
- Softened unsalted butter for greasing bowls
1. Place the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a large bowl and whisk together well. Add the water and use a rubber spatula to mix all the ingredients together until a sticky ball forms.
2. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and set in a warm spot to rise for 1-1 ½ hours unti the dough has doubled in size.
3. Make sure the oven rack is in the middle and preheat to 425º F. Generously grease two 1-quart oven-safe bowls with the softened butter. Use two forks to deflate the dough by releasing it from the sides of the bowl and pulling it into the center. Rotate the bowl quarter turns as you do this, so the dough turns into a rough ball.
4. Use the two forks to part the dough from the center out to form two equal pieces, cutting it right down the middle and pulling out to the sides. The dough will be sticky but should separate easily. Transfer each dough half to the buttered bowls and let them rise another 20 minutes or so in a warm place, until the top of the dough just crowns the rims of the bowls.
5. Place the bowls in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Then, lower the heat to 375º F and bake for another 17-20 minutes longer, until the bread is evenly golden all over. If the bread looks a bit pale, cook 5 minutes longer. Remove bowls from oven and turn loaves out onto wire racks to cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
6. Bread can be stored, well-wrapped at room temperature for 4-5 days.
Note: Recipe adapted from Bread Toast Crumbs by Alexandra Stafford.