Best bread I ever baked. . . and pass the butter. . .
I don’t know where I have been since this recipe for no knead bread has been out, but I just want to tell you that never have I had so much fun baking bread as I have with this recipe. I have always looked for artisan breads in the stores because these are what I had grown up with. A crusty loaf carrying butter to a hungry palate with a chunk of cheese is my idea of heaven. But it only happened if I was in the right store on the right day.
A little over a month ago I decided to try this recipe. I had been reading for a long time how a 4 year old can make this with only 4 ingredients. Nature does the kneading by you letting it grow and rest on the counter. We have not bought a loaf of bread since I made the first loaf about 5 weeks ago. My family insists that with me anything that conveys a certain amount of butter is the best ever no matter what it is. You would not wish to use anything but butter with this. I would tell anyone who has never done this way of baking before to go online and look for no knead bread with cold start oven. I hesitated handling and putting dough into a sizzling hot pan without having an accident of some sort so I kept on reading and lo ! to find that indeed, you can start with a cold pan and cold oven and start your temp control then at 450 degrees and it is magic.
After 30 minutes you take the cover off the pan and go ahead with the final 30 minutes to brown and crisp up. You will not wish to eat spongy bread again ever. Not with 5 minutes of mixing and no work other than gently folding and transferring into your pan. I do not have the expensive pans that the recipe calls for. But after much research into what can be used, I did find that I had a pot with cover that is stainless steel and heavy that I hoped would take the 450 degree oven. It does and heavy oven mitts are necessary to take off the cover at the end of the first 30 minutes and handle the finished loaf at the last 30. But I feel like I have discovered a new country. Or in my case, another planet. I have made rye with caraway seeds, spelt bread and whole wheat as well as white bread. I never knew that whole wheat can be a sweet bread without a speck of sugar. It is unbelievable. I think I may have gone through 25 pounds of flour during the past 5 weeks.
I am sure (and I have no research to prove it) that in the beginning when someone learned that pounding grain made a finer food to eat, something happened to divert attention from the pounding and mixing with water before throwing on the fire. Coming back to the task no doubt they found that somehow heat from the fire or sun made the mixture bubble and turn sour and oh my, what do we have but sourdough starter. So someone who couldn’t sleep nights figured out that by mixing flour and water and setting it near the fire, was the first step in a finer crusted staff of life. Bread. I have often wondered how it all came to be and with this recipe being the magic that came from a thinking head that wanted to help a someone like me who has tried since I was 12 and put in charge of the kitchen on our Farm to feed hungry souls coming in from the fields. I turned green in the sun’s heat and was sent into the house while my mother took my place in the field. I am pretty good in the kitchen, but never in 70 +years able to bake a loaf of bread like I do now. I can only wonder how happy my mother would have been to know that you don’t need a ten thousand dollar oven but just a heavy pot with a cover and a very hot oven to make a loaf of bread that make old men cry. It makes me dippy with joy to think that I can bake this marvelous bread. I will die happy. And pass the real butter.