Over the past year or so I have heard lots of buzzing about this amazing no-knead bread recipe that was changing the way bakers everywhere will make bread. Being a person who had never made bread and honestly, had no plans to do so, I wasn't all that interested. I love bread, but baking it just wasn't something I'd ever really gotten into. That is until I watched a video segment featuring Jeff and Zoe. I loved how simple and versatile it looked, so I decided to give it a try this week. Turns out, this is the bread recipe my librarian friend Lauren gave to me weeks ago, after she raved about it at lunch one day. She had made some alterations and lots of notes, so I went with Lauren's version for my first try.
The Master Recipe, Lauren's Way:
2 packets granulated yeast (approx. 4 tsp.)
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
3 cups lukewarm (about 100 degrees) water
6 1/2 cups all purpose flour
In a large plastic resealable container (I used my ancient Rubbermaid Cake Carrier!) mix yeast and salt into water. With a wooden spoon, mix in flour until uniformly moist and no dry patches remain. It will be moist and cling to the container.
Cover (not with an air tight lid! I just used a towel) and let stand at room temperature for between 2 and 5 hours. I know this is vague, but it really depends on the heat and humidity in your kitchen! You'll know it is ready when the dough has flattened or begins to collapse on top.
At this point you can cover and refrigerate the dough for up to two weeks, pulling off portions and baking it any time you want fresh bread. When you are ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on the dough, your hands, and work surface. Cut a grapefruit sized ball of dough from the container with scissors. Turn dough in your hands, pulling dough gently to form a baguette. Dust well with flour.
Place dough on a cookie sheet and let rest uncovered for 40 minutes. Using scissors, cut 1/4 inch deep parallel slices into the top of baguettes and place on middle rack in a preheated 450 degree oven. Place a roasting pan beneath the bread and quickly pour in 1 1/2 cups of warm water, shutting the oven door quickly to trap steam.
Bake for 20 minutes. If your baguettes are not golden brown, crack open the oven door to release steam and bake another 5 minutes until tops are crusty.
I let my dough chill overnight and then baked off three small loaves in the morning. It was so delicious, I ate most of it myself, including the sandwich I powered through at lunch. Then I went to Barnes and Noble to look through the book. The only thing that stopped me from buying it was the unfortunate lack of photographs. I want to know how a recipe is meant to look when it is completed, plus I just love great food photography. I put the book, full of lots of interesting adaptations on the Master Recipe, back on the shelf and went back home to my trusty computer. I found Jeff and Zoe's blog, which offers many of the variations found in the book, along with gorgeous photos and even corrections for some of the mistakes printed in the book. They are also working on a second book, which I hope is fully of glossy images and fewer errors. Next up for me is the Roasted Pepper Fougasse, but I think I'll add some parmesan and fresh basil.