the easiest no-knead bread you’ll ever bake

IMG_4955IMG1231
Forgive me this brevity, but I’ve spent the better part of this weekend trying to write from viewpoint of an eight-year-old child, the world through her eyes, as it were. The world as she experiences it, first-hand. This chapter was more difficult than I had imagined, while it was easy to have her observe the more sophisticated dialogue and surroundings around her as a means to give weight and perspective against her narrative, I found achieving her voice challenging. I wrote her as an adult would write her, and I had to go back and spend six hours on six pages, obsessing over diction and word choices. Often, I kept returning to Emma Donoghue’s The Room, for reference, but still.

While living a day where I took on the role of revisionist, this lovely loaf of bread steadily ascended. And this morning, I sliced into this hot loaf, slathered it with butter, and got excited to start the day.

INGREDIENTS: Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

DIRECTIONS
In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups (5/8 = 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Untitled

Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

IMG_4952IMG1231

At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

IMG_4960IMG1231
IMG_4962IMG1231

pumpkin spice rolls

pumpkin spice rolls
Happy New Year, friends! My mini respite is coming to an end as I’m back in the office tomorrow {insert wails}, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the fruits of my holiday labor. I’ve been on a bit of a bread bender lately, so after scoring a jarful of yeast I decided to go wild and make loaves of bread. And ever since I spied these lovely terracota rolls on Pastry Affair, I knew these needed to be introduced in my repertoire. Not quite savory and not quite sweet, these rolls straddle an androgynous flavor profile that makes them perfect for everything from nutella to savory, pungent cheeses. Last night I smeared cold French butter on these hot rolls and it was EVERYTHING.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from A Pastry Affair, with slight modifications
1/2 cup (118 ml) barely warm water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 large egg
1 cup (245 grams) canned pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups – 3 cups (318 grams) bread flour

DIRECTIONS
In a bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, sprinkle the yeast over the barely warm water and allow to sit about 5 minutes until activated (during this time the yeast will start to bubble and look frothy). Stir in egg, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, butter, spices, and salt. Gradually add bread flour, mixing until the dough comes together. If the dough is too dry and will not come together, add small amounts of water until it does. Conversely, if the dough is too sticky, add flour until it becomes workable; however, do not add too much flour or the bread will become dense. Now replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook and start to knead your dough on low speed.

Knead the dough for ten minutes, or until elastic. The dough will feel slightly sticky, but don’t worry — it will firm up as it rises. Cover dough with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in a warm place, about 2 hours. Punch down the dough before turning out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 12 equal portions (I did this by rolling the dough with my hands into a log so I can get ball-sized cuts) and shape each portion into a round ball. Place in a pan (or on baking sheets) coated lightly with cooking spray. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for another 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the tops are lightly browned and the bread sounds hollow when tapped. Serve hot.

To reheat buns, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Bake rolls for 5-8 minutes, or until hot.

pumpkin spice rolls
pumpkin spice rolls
pumpkin spice rolls