Heaven from Manna

I’ve been searching for a recipe for rustic-style bread for years now. While I’m a fan, it’s not my favorite to have every day, but Josh really likes it. He’s accompanied me on recipe after disappointing recipe, waiting with bated breath each time we take the bread out of the oven. Each time we’re disappointed – the crumb is small and fine, the crust soft… perfectly delicious bread, but not what I was looking for. Where was the thick, crunchy crust? The huge bubbles and elastic texture of the melt-in-your-mouth inside?

In my desperation, I even went and made a pottery bread baker. It measures 11″ in diameter and 8″ high… the thing is enormous. I had to soak the inside in olive oil for an hour before baking in it, and it still stuck. And the bread baked in it was nothing to write home about.

But this bread is another story.

 

I found this recipe online and it looked so simple that I knew I had to try it. I knew it would probably be my last try – I had resigned myself to someday paying for a steam-injected oven. But hey, I have this awesome Dutch Oven gathering dust, and I had flour and time, so… around 1:30 this morning (because that’s when S finally went to sleep) I mixed up a half batch in a metal mixing bowl.

1 1/2 cups bread flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon (I didn’t bother to reduce it) yeast, 3/4 cup water, all mixed up into a shaggy, sticky ball. I poured some olive oil in the bowl and rolled the mess around to coat it, and let it sit until about 4:00pm today. (I chose to do a half batch because the recipe called for a 6-8 quart Dutch Oven, and mine is a 4 quart if I’m lucky – but it wasn’t necessary. Next time I’m just going to do the whole recipe because there was plenty of room.)

When I opened it, it looked vile but gave off a lovely, sourdough-like smell. I flopped it out on the counter, folded it twice, and set it to rest for another hour between two wheat-bran-dusted fresh kitchen towels.

 Once 1 hour had passed, I set the oven to 475 with the Dutch Oven inside and the timer to 20 minutes. By the time I took out the preheated pan, smoke was coming out of it. (Old oil, I hope, and not burning nonstick.) The bread went in seam-side-up with a sizzle, and the pan was closed and popped back in.

And about 45 minutes later plus an hour of cooling… heaven.

This bread is perfect. If I weren’t a fan of rustic breads before, I am now – I stood there in the kitchen with a slice crammed in my mouth and just moaned, it is so delicious. It is truly as good as any restaurant bread I have ever had, and I am humbled by the fact that (as the recipe author states) a four-year-old could make it. I can’t wait to share this bread with all of you – I guess that means you’d better visit!

2 Responses to “Heaven from Manna”

  1. Rose Says:

    Oooooh! Aaaaah! Beautiful!

  2. gina at la Matriarch Says:

    This looks great! I just made my first homemade bread ever this weekend. It was super easy – no kneeding. The recipe is from Mother Earth News but was really just an excerpt from the book called “Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day”. Have you tried this one? I’d definately recommend it, especially if you love to have bread around all the time. This really easy recipe makes enough dough to last for 2 weeks. You just keep it in the fridge and make bread as you like. Next I’m going to try Pitas and English Muffins using the same dough.

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