Mix three cups flour, 1 ¼ teaspoons salt, ¼ teaspoon active yeast and 1 and ½ cups cold water together in a bowl. Cover the bowl and forget about it for 12, 18 or even 24 hours. We’ll come back to it later. (Adapted from Jim Lahey’s book “My Bread.”)
Sometimes a nudge from a friend is all it takes to start doing something yourself. That’s certainly been the case with making bread. The chain started a while back with Lou, a locally famous neighbor, who uses his Kitchen Aid mixer to knead crunchy loaves of artisan bread. Nothing could make kneading simpler, he’s proud to say than this favored appliance.
My innocent response? How about not kneading at all?
We can credit Jim Lahey of the famed NYC Sullivan St. Bakery for that. And it’s been working for us time time-strapped, working moms, who love a good loaf of bread but can’t even spare the time to let our Kitchen Aids do the kneading.
Here’s how the bread making kick started. Lou gave Jenn a few bread baking lessons and she became inspired and began making it herself. She then served it at playgroup, which was when the craze really took off. Jackie, who was quite impressed with the quality of the bread, then began experimenting at home. She was thrilled with her results, began talking up a storm about her success and then began demonstrating the simplicity to her friends.
I was hooked too, sharing my enthusiasm with more friends — Debbie, Liz, Jane, Emilie, Christina — anyone I would come into contact with would have to hear about (and taste) this marvelous discovery.
Now when I am with Jackie for any other reason (like making a few loaves of banana bread) we’ll take out our bowls, mix the ingredients together and then part ways. We’ll finish it up together by phone the next day, sharing our excitement as it comes out of the oven! We tried Ciabata this week from Jim Lahey’s cookbook “My Bread.” It was so amazing that I’ve made this spectacular bread three times since. You can access some of his recipes online:
Then take the bread our and shape it into a 7 inch square on top of a well floured surface. Fold right side over left and then bottom into the top. Cover with a cloth and let rise for an hour. Meanwhile, pre-heat an oven to 475 degrees. Heat a covered clay baker for 30 minutes. Cut your dough in half, shape into two logs. Place one of the loaves in your hot covered baker. Bake for 20 minutes, remove lid and bake a bit more if desired. Repeat with the second loaf.
Spread some soft butter on your warm loaf of bread and before you know it you’ll be mixing together flour, yeast, salt and water for next day’s loaf. And, you’ll be telling and showing all your friends how delicious and simple it is to do yourself.