Thursday, March 21, 2013

Even easier than 1-2-3 bread

One of my earliest posts on this blog was 1-2-3 sourdough bread, which consisted of 1 part starter, 2 parts water, 3 parts flour (hence 1-2-3) and a pinch of salt.

^ I added flax seeds to this batch, which are the dark spots you see in the picture

It was easy to remember because you just had to add water in a ratio of 2/3 of the flour by weight.  I found 125g starter, 250g water, and 375g flour to make a decent-sized loaf.

The only problem?  This bread takes at least three days to make.  One to two days to revive the starter, and one to two days for the dough to rise.  I haven't had the patience for it lately.   

Recently a friend of mine was putting together a gift basket for another friend whose daughter is in the hospital.  She asked for bread and she needed it two days from then, so I knew I wouldn't have time to make a sourdough.

I made this bread instead.

It is super easy.  Even easier than my 1-2-3 loaf, because it doesn't require starter, and you can estimate two of the ingredients.

I think I'll call it "1-2 bread."

You will need:

375g All-Purpose Flour (I like King Arthur)
250g water
1 teaspoon-ish of salt
1 teaspoon-ish of instant or active dry yeast

1. Measure out the flour first and then add the water.

2. Measure out roughly one teaspoon of salt and add to the flour and water.  Use a teaspoon if you like, but you don't have to.  Most people think with baking you have to measure everything.  With bread, the only thing that is important is the hydration (i.e., the ratio of flour to water by weight).  Anything that significantly changes this ratio needs to be measured.  For everything else, you can wing it. 

3. Measure out roughly one teaspoon of yeast.  If you want to bake your bread in just a few hours and don't mind sacrificing flavor, by all means add two teaspoons of yeast instead of one.  Since I don't have that kind of time all in one big chunk, I like adding less yeast and letting the dough rise for a really long time- 24 hours.

4.  Mix everything up by hand.  It is really important that you use your hands because you can tell by touch whether it needs more water and that all the flour and water have been integrated into the dough.

5. Let the dough sit for 10-15 minutes.  This lets the dough relax and absorb a little more water.   You will see there is a huge difference in the texture between the first time you mix the dough, and after you have let it rest.


After 10 minutes, re-shaping the loaf:

^ see how smooth the dough is now?

6. Cover with cling wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. 

7.  In the morning, remove the dough from the fridge (it will not have risen noticeably) and let the bowl sit on the counter during the day.  This is where you will see the big rise.

^ after 9 hours on the counter

 8.   That evening, punch down the dough, re-shape it, and transfer to a piece of parchment paper.  Cover with an oiled piece of cling wrap.

9.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and insert your dutch oven or pizza stone to heat up while you wait about 45 minutes for your loaf to go through the second rise.

10.  Remove the cling wrap, score the loaf in a pretty pattern, and transfer the loaf and parchment paper to the dutch oven and close the lid. 

11.  Bake 25 minutes, then remove the lid.  Bake another 5-10 minutes, depending on how it looks and sounds.  Is the crust really hard already? Take it out; it's done.

12.  Let it cool and listen to the fun crackling sounds the crust makes as the air is escaping.  Fun!

^ this loaf will be great for sandwiches

Since the little girl's name begins with L, I thought it would be fun to personalize this loaf:

^ I made several loaves for this batch and experimented with different scoring patterns for each

I hope you enjoy trying out this easy, no-fuss recipe!