I know one sure fire way to make a house feel like home. Bake a loaf of fresh bread! There is nothing quite like the smell that fills the house when bread that you put together with your own two hands sits baking in the oven. Every time I bake bread I find myself wishing I lived “in the olden days” when women baked bread every day…for about 5 minutes…until I remember #1 I have a job and #2 that those women probably had to stoke their coal fire while their bread was baking or some other really hard things they did “in the olden days.” Plus I like the special feeling of a fresh baked loaf of bread. This is not an every day occurrence, so when I do bake bread, dinner feels much more fancy.
I was inspired to bake some bread because over the holidays my moms started baking the famous Tartine Bread because I got her the cookbook for Christmas. My mom is much more ambitious than I am. The recipe for Tartine bread is something like 34 pages. 34 PAGES!!! It involves making and feeding a starter, weighing ingredients, exact temperatures and waiting times, and a lot of opportunities to screw things up! Don’t get me wrong, the bread is absolutely, ridiculously delicious and maybe if I did live in the olden times and had all day long to bake bread while my husband was out on the farm or something I would make it every day, but I choose a recipe that is just a tad bit easier.
Using prepared yeast saves you from having to do all the hard work of making a starter (just to be clear I am not knocking any recipe that uses a starter, least of all Tartine’s, I am just jealous ). Then add your water and mix up with the best kitchen tool you’ve got, your hands.
When the dry ingredients are fully incorporated with the water take another bowl and coat it with olive oil. This will help keep the bread from sticking as it rests and encourage it to rise.
Then, place your dough in the oiled bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let proof for about 12 hours at room temp. Can you believe this little hunk of dough turns into a delicious loaf of bread? It looks so puny!
After resting, remove the dough and fold it over a couple times. Then turn it onto your work surface (see how much the dough increased in size!)
Dust a cutting board with cornmeal. Place the dough on the cornmeal and then dust the top of the bread with some more cornmeal. Then cover the dough with a towel and let rest another 1-2 hours.
Now comes the funny part. Every time I have baked bread, I use my pizza stone, but not this bread. This bread you bake in a pot! I had never heard of such a thing, so naturally I called my mom to tell her about this weird bread recipe I found and do you know what she said? “Oh yeah, that is how I baked my Tartine bread!” I could hardly believe it!
So I preheated my pot in a 450 degree oven for about 30 minutes, plopped in my dough and in one hour I had a crusty, airy, hearty, delicious loaf of bread!
My dad would want me to tell you that this bread would be best served with some ICE COLD butter. And while, he is right (as usual), my favorite way to eat it was along with some homemade apricot peach jam. But then again, why can’t you have both? Right dad?!
I suggest making this bread asap if not sooner. Just don’t blame me if the smell makes you want to time travel!
“Perfect Loaf of Bake at Home Bread”
Recipe adapted from Sullivan St. Bakery
3 cups flour (2 cups white flour, 1 cup wheat flour)
1½ cups water
¼ teaspoon yeast
1¼ teaspoon salt
cornmeal (for dusting)
Mix all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add water and incorporate by hand. Lightly coat the inside of a second medium bowl with olive oil and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rest 12 hours at room temperature.
Remove the dough from the bowl and fold once or twice. Let the dough rest 15 minutes in the bowl or on the work surface. Next, shape the dough into ball. Generously coat a cotton towel with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal; place the dough seam side down on the towel and dust with flour. Cover the dough with a cotton towel and let rise 1-2 hours at room temperature, until more than doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 450°F. Place the pot in the oven at least 30 minutes prior to baking to preheat. Once the dough has more than doubled in volume, remove the pot from the oven and place the dough in the pot seam side up. Cover with the lid and bake 30 minutes Then remove the lid and bake 15-30 minutes uncovered, until the loaf is nicely browned.