Saturday, March 13, 2010

Fingers Crossed

So I fell asleep on the couch before eight o'clock last night. Last night happened to be a Friday night, so when I woke up in a puddle of drool around 8:30, I felt rather pitiful. In my groggy, self-berating state of mind, I decided that the perfect antidote to my general blah-ness on this Friday night would be to bake a loaf of bread. Naturally.

I have been meaning to tackle this item on the list for a while now, so I already had the recipe all picked out. Apparently, this recipe for No-Knead Bread created quite a stir when it was first published in the New York Times four years ago. Now, I kind of thought that I would enjoy the process of kneading the dough, figured it would make me feel very meditative and Zen... However, I was swayed by the many reviews I read of this magical bread; all promise that it will be the best bread that you can make and that it is nearly impossible to screw up.

So last night I gathered all four ingredients, put Patty Griffin on the ipod, lit the fire (by this, I mean I flipped the switch on the side of the mantle), and commenced bread making.
A half a cup of whole wheat flour (look at me, improvising already!), two and a half cups of bread flour, one and a quarter teaspoons of salt...
Plus three-quarters of a teaspoon active dry yeast (yet more improvisation since I did not have instant yeast) and one and a half cups of lukewarm water  =  magical dough-like substance that reminded me of the oobleck we made in fourth grade in some sort of vaguely academic science demonstration on the differences between liquids and solids, but I digress.
Then I covered the dough with plastic wrap, tucked it in for the night, and headed to bed feeling slightly more productive. Although, in all honesty, the whole procedure took less than fifteen minutes. In any event, the secret to this knead-less bread is allowing it to rise very slowly; most of the recipes that I found recommend twelve to eighteen hours.
After a respectable sixteen hours, my dough looked like this.
The next step involved dumping the dough onto a floured surface and folding it over itself, like so.
I let the dough hang out like that for fifteen minutes, picked it up, formed it into a ball, and plopped it in a bowl lined with a towel covered in corn meal.

My bread-to-be now has to relax for another two hours under another cotton towel. Supposedly it is doubling in size under there...magical!

I'm off to practice my Spanish whilst my dough naps. To be continued...

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