On November 20, 2006, the Houston Chronicle ran an article from the New York Times. The article was about a way of making break by Jim Lahey. Lahey runs the Sullivan Street Bakery in Manhattan. His recipe was simplicity itself. Instead of kneading the bread, a super-slow rise was used. Mark Bittman, the New York Times columnist who wrote the article, made the bread seem like every amateur's dream of easy to make artisanal bread. I decided to give it a try. Below is my take on Lahey's recipe. The crust is fantantic and the white is wonderfully chewy. This is the best bread I have ever made.
Stage One: Making the Dough
_____ 3 cups of King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour (bread flour can also be used)
_____ 1/4 teaspoon of instant (RapidRise) or active dry yeast
_____ 1 - 1/2 teaspoons of salt
_____ 1 - 1/2 cup water (the original recipe called for 1 - 5/8 cups of water. The revision decreased it to 1 - 1/2 cups, which is what I use)
_____ Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, making all the flour is thoroughly moistened.
_____ Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
_____ Let the dough sit at 70 degrees for 18 to 24 hours. It will bubble and double in size.
Stage Two: Baking
_____ Lodge No. 12 deep cast iron dutch oven
_____ parchment paper
_____ corn meal for putting in the bottom of the dutch oven
_____ white flour for dusting
_____ Place a long piece of parchment paper on the counter top and sprinkle it with flour.
_____ Coat your hands with just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking.
_____ Remove plastic wrap from the bread and save the plastic wrap.
_____ Scoop dough out of bowl onto parchment paper and shape the dough into a circle.
_____ Fold one-fourth of the dough onto the whole. Do this four times, like closing the flaps of a box.
_____ Cover the dough with the plastic wrap for 15 minutes.
_____ Shape the dough into a tight ball (to the degree possible!), seam side down, and sprinkle the top of the dough with a little flour and cover with parchment paper and cover everything with two cotton towels. (The parchment keeps the dough from sticking to the towels, and the flour keeps the dough from sticking to the parchment paper.)
_____ Start a timer to warn you when 90 minutes are up.
_____ After 90 minutes, place the dutch oven inside cold oven and turn the oven on to 450 degrees.
_____ After 30 more minutes (for a total second rise of two hours), open the oven, slide the rack out, and sprinkle some corn meal into the bottom of the dutch oven to keep the bread from sticking.
_____ Carefully dump the dough into the dutch oven, seam side up.
_____ Cover the dutch oven with its lid, and close the oven door. Bake at 450 for 30 minutes.
_____ After 30 minutes of baking, remove the dutch oven lid and bake for 15 more minutes.
_____ After this 15 minutes, check to see if top is brown. If not, bake uncovered for 5 more minutes and check again.
_____ When done, use oven mitts to turn the bread out onto a cooling rack and wait one hour before slicing.
Do not refrigerate this bread.
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