May 25, 2011

Overnight Artisan Crusty Bread

What are YOU making for dinner tomorrow night?

Carbohydrate Kid. That was my childhood nickname given to me by my loving parents. Carbo Kid. It was cute for the longest time. What does Sarah want for breakfast? Croissant. What does Sarah want for lunch? Bread. What does Sarah want for dinner? Pasta. I am not kidding.

Then, Atkins showed up. Suddenly my cute carbo cravings were not so cute but rather a bad habit that needed curbing. 

For the days when you are feeling to-hell-with-atkins, try this mouthwatering, bakery quality, artisan crusty bread that no one will believe you made.

Read the recipe before you decide this one is too complex. Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, the best part about this bread is how easy it is. One special piece of equipment is required – a cast iron Dutch oven. If you don’t have one of these you could use any ovenproof Dutch oven, but it is definitely best in cast iron.

Other special tools for this recipe: 10-inch skillet, parchment paper

Let’s bake!

15 ounces all purpose flour (3 cups – but it is more accurate to weigh it out)
¼ tsp instant yeast
1.5 tsp salt
7 ounces of water, about room temperature (¾ cup plus 2 tbsp, again better to weigh)
3 ounces of light lager such as a pilsner (¼ cup plus 2 tbsp)
1 tbsp white vinegar

The "shaggy ball"
1. Whisk the dry ingredients in a large glass, ceramic or plastic bowl (metal might react with the vinegar and changes results). Add wet ingredients and mix using a rubber spatula until a shaggy dough ball forms. Make sure to get all the flour incorporated off the bottom of the bowl. Cover with saran wrap and let sit at room temperature (free from drafts) overnight, for 8-18 hours.

The skillet and parchment set up.
2.  Lay 12x18 inch sheet of parchment paper in a 10 inch skillet, spray lightly with non-stick spray. Put dough on a lightly floured work surface and knead it about 10 times before shaping it into a ball by pulling the edges into the middle. Transfer dough to skillet, seam side down. Spray the top of the dough lightly with cooking spray and cover loosely with saran wrap. Let the dough rise for about 2 hours, it should approximately double in size.

3. About 30 minutes before baking, heat oven to 450F and place ovenproof Dutch oven on the lowest rack.  Lightly flour the top of the dough and cut a 6 inch, ½ inch deep slit in the top using a sharp knife. Carefully transfer dough into pre-heated Dutch oven by lifting it by the parchment paper and lowering it into the pot – with the parchment paper, which will hang over the edges of the pot. Cover the pot, place it in the oven and lower the temperature to 425F. Bake for 30 minutes.

4. Remove cover and continue to bake for 20-30 minutes, until loaf is golden brown. If you have an instant thermometer, it should read about 210 degrees in the centre. Mine took about 25 minutes to reach this temperature. Carefully remove loaf from pot and cool on a wire rack. Do not cut bread too soon, let rest for at least an hour or two.

Serve and prepare to take your praise! (Because it will definitely be coming!)

It takes time but it is EASY! No one will believe YOU made it!
Serve with soups and stews, or just eat it plain! Try it with Slow Cooker Chicken Chasseur.