I liked my little painting a lot (see the post below this one) but I'm giving that one away for an art benefit. So I decided to make a big one for our wall. My friend, Kevin, suggested I put a turtle in this one - so here it is! (Click on the image to make it larger on your computer.)
We have had very windy, cold conditions. Snow is predicted for today and tomorrow. Last weekend I put the storm windows on the house. I hate running the furnace without the storms in place. I've had a fire in the wood stove since Saturday. These are fabulous conditions to work on my bread!
I've combined two recipes to come up with the easiest way to get good artisan bread. I use the master recipe and concept of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, but then I use the Mark Bittman New York Times article for how to bake it.
The concept is to make a big batch of dough with no kneading and after an initial rise in the kitchen, you put it into the refrigerator for up to two weeks. During that time when you want bread, you just pull off a piece of the very loose dough, shape it, let it warm to room temperature and then bake it. The longer it hangs out in the refrigerator, the more flavor (like sourdough flavor) it develops.
Here is the dough right after mixing.
Here is my container in the refrigerator.
Here is a shaped loaf all cozy and resting in a floured kitchen towel (not terry cloth).
And finally, my perfect bread!!!
3 cups warm water (just warm from your sink tap)
1 1/2 Tablespoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 Tablespoon salt
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Get a container that you can keep in the refrigerator big enough for the dough to rise. I use a rectangular Rubbermaid container that gets 1/3 full after the initial mixing. The dough rises to the top of the container during its resting period. It should have a lid, but you leave the lid loose.
Mix the water, yeast and salt in the container. Add the flour all at once and stir until it is uniformly moist (no dry sections of flour).
That's it! Let it sit out with the lid loosely covering the container for about 2 hours. Put it in the refrigerator for up to 14 days. When you want bread, dust the top with a little flour and the pull up and cut off a hunk.
Now I switch to Mark Bittman's method. I put the hunk of dough in a floured towel and let it sit for about 2 hours. I turn on the oven to about 450 with a covered pot (like a dutch oven) inside the oven warming at the same time.
After the oven has preheated, take the pot out of the oven and dump your risen bread into the pot by flipping the towel upside down. Slash the top if you like with a sharp knife. Cover and put into the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the cover and finish baking for 10-20 more minutes until the crust is golden.
Cool the bread on a wire rack and slice when cool. YUM!!!