Our lives are filled with defining moments. For some, it’s taking their marriage vows or seeing their first child being born. For others, it’s being the first to graduate from college in their family or scoring a game winning shot at the buzzer. As for me, a defining moment arrived the day I had the thrill of opening the oven door to find awaiting before me, my very first loaf of homemade bread! When I held that gorgeous, warm loaf of bread in my hands, time stopped. It did. I swear.
“Nooooo way”, I whispered loudly. Followed, I think, by several (louder) WHOO-HOO’s! There may have been slight jumping up and down involved as well. Even with all the excitement, an unsettling twinge of guilt began to surface. Why? Because the results were so far beyond the effort involved to achieve them, that there was no way it could have been accomplished without cheating. Did T. swap out a loaf from the local bakery without me knowing to spare my feelings? For a split second, I actually thought so. I felt like a cheat. But luckily, I got over it. Fast.
The fact is, this recipe is so ridiculously easy, a child could make it. Literally. One bowl, a few measurements, a couple stirs, and time. That’s it. I’ve made many, many iterations of this fabled no-knead bread. How could you not? It’s been discussed, blogged, scrutinized, analyzed and dissected by just about….well, by just about everyone at this point. I figure, meh, one more can’t hurt. The recipe that follows has resulted from my attempts at trying to implement the best of the best of the revisions and plugging them all into one happy loaf. It’s a cross between a rustic country bread and a San Franciscan sourdough, but with an added hearty punch of crunch from the steel cut oatmeal and nuttiness of the flax seeds. The crust alone can be hailed as a miracle. Smear with good quality, European style butter and you are transported far, far away to your favorite boulangerie.
Though I do have a Le Creuset dutch oven, I’m a little too paranoid to use it given all the discussion regarding the safety of the knobs and the need to swap them out. I’m perfectly happy with the results using my All-Clad cookware. Oh, best to eat this baby the day it comes out of the oven or the crust loses a bit of it’s oompf (if not, you can always wrap it in foil for up to 2 days, and reheat slightly before serving).
Music Pairing: Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
Yields: One gorgeous lookin’ 1 1/2-pound loaf
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup steel cut oats
- 4 tbsp flax seeds
- 2 1/4 cups bread flour
- 1 1/2 tsp table salt or 3/4 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 1/3 cups water
- 1 tbsp white distilled vinegar
- 1/4 tsp instant yeast
Whisk flour, steel cut oats, flax seeds, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy, sticky ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
Lay 12X18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.
About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6-8 quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 475 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, 1/2 inch-deep slit along top of dough.
Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature before slicing.