After seeing this attempted by a friend on facebook and looking at the beautiful result, I thought I'd give this a try. I was in the middle of writing papers, which is what my life is all about at the moment, I needed a bit of procrastination in carbohydrate form. The dough took less than 3 minutes to prepare. All you need is time for it to rise and for the yeast to do its thing, and a 2 hour window of opportunity to let it proof and bake. This bread is so easy and the results taste like you spent hours slaving away. This one's a keeper, and I plan on making more of this in the near future.
3 cups of flour (i used 2 c. organic all purpose wheat, and 1 c. organic spelt)
1 1/2 cups of warm water (you'll need 1/4 c more if you use spelt or other alternative grain flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 teaspoon instant yeast
Combine the ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon. The dough should look "shaggy" and "piecey".
Here's what my dough looked like after mixing. Now all you need to do is cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 12-18 hours.
My specimen after a nice long sleep. Way to go yeast, you did your thing!
The next step: you might need to wet your hands to turn over the dough a couple of times to form a nice smooth ball. Nestle it into a tallish bowl for it to rise for another 2 hours. 30 minutes before you want to bake it, heat the oven to 450 degrees and pop in a heat resistant pot with a lid, such as a cast iron casserole. When the oven and pan are nice and hot, place your dough into the pan and give it a few shakes to distribute the dough nicely. Cover the pan with your lid. This creates steam while the bread bakes and results in a wonderfully crispy crunchy crust.
After 30 minutes of baking, remove the lid and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes. You can tell your bread is ready when it sounds hollow when you tap it.
Straight out of the oven. Note the parchment paper at the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking.
I love baking. I am always amazed by how beautiful it can be. Is this the end of store-bought bread for me?
The spelt flour added a sweet nutiness to the bread. All that resting for 12-18 hours imparts a complex flavor to the bread with a dense and chewy crumb and a crusty outer shell. Amazing.
I scarfed down two slices with butter while it was still hot. The next day it got slathered with cream cheese, smoked salmon and capers.