“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight…[Breadmaking is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world’s sweetest smells… there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of― M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating
meditation in a music-throbbing chapel. that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.”
I was lucky enough to grow up with a grandfather, Papa, who baked bread. His kitchen would always smell like fresh dough. If my mom and I timed it right, we would swing by to say “hi” around the same time he pulled some fresh loaves from the oven. We would stand in the kitchen chatting and eat fresh hot bread with butter and then hopefully take a loaf home for dinner too. My Papa would freely give loaves of bread to family, friends, the neighbors, the gardeners, the postman. Bread is something so simple, yet so completely fills us with a sense of humanity.
Though I am nowhere near the skill level as my Papa, I find that baking bread has instilled a sense of calm and generosity in me. During the self-quarantine I suddenly have time to make dough and luxuriously let is rise for hours on end. While quietly working on the computer and bustling around the house, the bread can rise and I feel a sense of providing for my home. This simple recipe brings me such joy. I wish I could share the freshly baked bread with my family and friends. However, for the time being, we must keep out distance during quarantine. So I hope that you too can find the joy of baking bread and share within your own homes.
This simple recipe comes from the New York Times’, Mark Bittman and Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery. Click Here for an excellent video for this recipe. It requires no kneading. It uses no special ingredients, equipment or techniques. And it takes very little effort — only time. You will need 24 hours to create the bread, but much of this is unattended waiting, a slow fermentation of the dough that results in a perfect loaf.
- 3 cups (450 g) all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
- 1 tsp instant yeast (dry active)
- 1 ¼ tsp (9 g) salt
- 1 1/2 cups (about 315 g to 350g) water
- 1 – 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed
No Knead Bread
1 hour 30 minutes, plus about 20 hours’ resting time
- In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Starting with 1 1/2 cups water, add to flour mixture and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Add up to a total of 2 cups water. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a wet towel. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
- 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. Coat the inside of a medium bowl with olive oil. Put dough seam side down inside the bowl and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another damp 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.
- At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 475 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. 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 20 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.