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Mark is always asking me to bake homemade, crunchy crusted bread.  You know the kind at the grocery store that is right next to the check out counter that smell so good you end up buying two loaves to have one for dinner ’cause you ate the piping hot one on the way home?  We call that “Good Bread”.

Although my Dzia Dzia (pronounced “Judge ja”, Polish for Grandfather) was a famous Ambridge baker, his recipes were never really handed down once he retired.  No one really knows what he did, just that he was the best at what he did.

In my twisted head, I figured if I can’t bake bread just like Dzia, I might as well not try at all.

Until now.  I realized I have nothing to compare my bread to except the grocery store- so, what is there to lose?

Until now, I never had a starting point recipe to follow.  Dec 09/Jan 10 Mother Earth Magazine featured “Recipes for Healthy No-Knead Bread.”  My interest was piqued then, but, I never did anything with it because I worked; was tired; was busy; didn’t have the ingredients, blah, blah, blah.

The other day I went to the library and was perusing the vegetarian, plant food, Mediterranean cookbooks when the HOLY GRAIL bread book fell upon my lap- opened to the YOU CAN DO IT IN JUST 5 MINUTES A DAY page and I believed it.

Son of a gun, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François- (those people from the magazine!!!!) said all the way though page 26- “Debbie, you can do it- we may not be Dzia Dzia, but we are close enough.”  I heard them loud and clear!

We ate four loaves of homemade crunchy crust bread in two days!!  OMG  I have nothing to show for it but my word… I forgot to capture it digitally, until now.

I made another recipe from the book, Spinach Feta Bread.

Makes four 1-pound loaves.

1 cup packed cooked, chopped spinach, strained
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
1 tablespoon salt
2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Cornmeal for pizza peel

Ingredients

1.  Mix the yeast, salt, spinach, cheese, and sugar with the water in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.
2.  Mix in the flour without kneading using a wooden spoon or mixer.

Mixed with Kitchenaid

3.  Cover and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses, approximately 2 hours.

Wet Dough

4.  Refrigerate 3 hours up to 7 days.
5.  Dust surface of dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound piece.  Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.  Allow to rest and rise on a cornmeal-covered pizza peel for 1 hour.

Cornmeal “peel” so dough won’t stick

6.  Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven 450*F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack.  Place an empty broiler tray on any other shelf that won’t interfere with the rising bread.
7. Sprinkle the loaf liberally with flour and slash a pattern into the top, using a serrated bread knife.

Free Form Dough Ball

8.  Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone.  Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray, and quickly close the oven door.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until deeply browned and firm.

Stone and water tray

9.  Allow to cool before slicing or eating.

Crusty Crust

Butter? Olive Oil?

I cannot even tell you how good this is.  I wish you could SMELL it and HEAR it and TASTE it.  In two hours, half of this loaf is gone, Mark ate one piece, the kids aren’t home.  Hummmmmm

I am so thankful to have tried making this type of bread.  Even if it’s not from Dzia Dzia’s bakery, it’s from my bakery and I believe that makes him very, very proud.

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