Yeah, everyone’s baking more durning the pandemic, and this New York Times Cooking recipe makes for an outstanding loaf of bread. The outside is crusty, while the inside is perfectly soft and flavorful. I’m not much of a baker, so I’ve never made a lot of bread without a bread-making machine—lame, I know. I would have been making this stuff for years if I’d seen the recipe (or looked for it before the pandemic hit).
This bread doesn’t require a lot of hands-on time, nor does it require kneading–a lazy bread-maker’s dream. And it’s perfect for grilled-cheese sandwiches!
Don’t let the lack of a pizza peel or a baking stone put you off. If you look up the recipe online, there are many comments showing what others have used instead. It’s really just common sense.
Avoid possibly spreading the virus if you’re asymptomatic and wear a mask when you’re out. It’s the right thing to do.
What you’ll need:
- 1.5T (8g ) yeast
- 1.5T (23g) kosher salt
- 6.5 cups (775g ) unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting the dough
- Cornmeal for dusting
What to do:
In a large bowl, mix the yeast and salt into 3 cups of 100-degree water. Stir in the flour, mixing it with a spoon until there are no dry patches. At this point, the dough will be quite loose and very sticky. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let the dough rise at room temperature for 2-5 hours.
After it is risen (see what I did there, Erik), you can bake it right away or refrigerate it, covered, for up to two weeks. When you’re ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on the dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn the dough in your hands to lightly stretch the surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. It will be very sticky, so the flour dusting is imperative. Put the dough on a pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal and let it rest for 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it. For me, it divided into 3 small loaves.
Place a broiler pan or high-rimmed baking pan on the bottom of or the lowest rack in your oven. Place a baking stone on the middle rack and turn on the oven to 450 degrees. Let the stone heat at 450 degrees for 20 minutes before baking.
Now dust the dough with flour and slash the top with a sharp knife three times—you may want to oil it so it slices cleanly. Slide the unbaked loaf onto the stone.
Now for the part that makes that beautiful crusty exterior: pour a cup of hot water into the broiler pan/sheet pan and shut the oven quickly to trap all the steam. Bake until well browned—about 30 minutes.
Cool completely or rip into it while it’s still hot.
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