Bread – Crusty French

The Minimalist Approach. I read about this approach in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/08mini.html),  It requires very little work, takes a long time and a 6 to 8 quart covered enamelware baking dish.  The result is a crisp, thick crust white bread with an interior that is full of holes and delicious.  Start this one day before you want to eat it.  Here’s the original recipe with a few preparation notes of my own.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups high gluten flour (if necessary you can buy gluten and add it to regular flour)
  • ¼ tsp dry yeast
  • 1 ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 5/8th cups of water.

Preparation

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18 hours, at room temperature.

The next day after the surface is dotted with bubbles (you can wait longer — up to 24 hours) take a small handful of flour, and sprinkle it onto the sides of the bread bowl as you pull the bread out. Form it into the shape into a ball.

Generously coat a cotton towel with cornmeal and put the dough on top.  Sprinkle with flour and cover with the rest of the cloth.  Let it rise for 2 hours.  The   dough should double in bulk and not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

Thirty to forty-five minutes before the bread is ready, heat an oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy, covered pot (cast iron or enamel is best) in the oven as it heats.  When dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from oven, take off the top and slide your hand under towel and slip the dough into the pot.  This will get easier after a few tries, but don’t worry if it looks weird.  It will turn out great.  Cover with the lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1 1/2-pound loaf.

Enjoy!  It won’t last long.  In life, nothing does.

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