Real Bread

Get this: I finally made real bread. I mean, I’ve baked bread before (both quick breads and sandwich breads), but they were nothing like this. I’m talking about bread with a perfect chewy crust and an interior that’s both studded with bacon AND filled with those fun little holes you find in fancy bakery bread. This stuff may have been the highlight of my weekend last week. (And that’s saying something, considering that I was going to tell you about the chocolate-Irish cream cookies that were in our cookie jar…) 

I’ve been tempted by the idea of a no-knead bread for a while now (ever since I started following King Arthur Flour on Facebook), and when the link to this recipe popped up in my feed, I knew that there was no going back. Never mind that I’d have to make a trip to the store to buy bread flour. This was happening. I did a little reading (again, thanks to KAF) about no-knead bread and decided that this was what weekends were made for.

I mixed up the flour, salt, water and yeast on Saturday afternoon, and since I didn’t feel like baking bread at 3 in the morning (reason #5,872 why I don’t work at a bakery), I let it sit until late Sunday afternoon. It was incredibly easy to put together too – mix, cover, rest and bake. The original recipe called for 8 ounces of bacon, and while I’m sure that would have been amazing, I had to work with what was in my fridge.

I was surprised by how little the bread appeared to rise overnight in the refrigerator, which made me a little concerned when I went to bake it Sunday. Thankfully, after 90 minutes of “resting,” and 45 minutes in a screaming hot oven, I was rewarded with the prettiest loaf of bread to come out of my oven. Seriously. It was round and crusty and perfect. We cheated on the cooling time and cut into it after it had been out of the oven for 30 minutes, rather than an entire hour.

Mmm. At the risk of sounding redundant, it was SO good. I’m sure it’d be a great foundation for a grilled cheese, or the perfect partner to a bowl of soup, but it didn’t last long enough for that around here. Maybe next time. Because there WILL be a next time. 🙂

No-Knead Bacon Bread

No-Knead Bacon Bread 

3 cups bread flour, plus extra for the mat
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup and 6 tablespoons warm water
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
4 slices of bacon, cooked until crisp
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil, for the mat

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, yeast, salt and water. Stir until the mixture is combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours. (I let mine rest for about 26 hours.)  

When you’re ready to bake the bread, remove it from the refrigerator and sprinkle the bacon and chives on the dough. Add a few generous grinds of black pepper, and then stir until the mix-ins are incorporated.

Next, spread a clean cotton kitchen towel on the counter and place a pastry mat or sheet of parchment paper on top of the towel. Lightly brush the mat with a thin layer of olive oil, and then spread a generous layer of flour (I used about a scant 1/3 cup.) on top of the oiled surface. Scrape the dough from the bowl and shape into a round loaf on the prepared surface. Generously dust the top of the loaf with another coating of flour. Lightly oil another piece of parchment paper and place it, oiled side down, on top of the bread dough. Cover the parchment paper with another cotton kitchen towel. Let the dough rest for 90 minutes.

During the last 30 minutes of resting, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. While the oven is preheating, place an oven-safe Dutch oven (love my Lodge!) in the oven to heat as well. When the 90 minutes is up, remove the Dutch oven from the oven and take the lid off of the pot. Remove the parchment paper and towel from the top of the loaf and carefully flip the dough into the preheated Dutch oven. Place the lid on the Dutch oven and return it to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid from the Dutch oven and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven. After a few minutes, use a pair of tongs to pick up the bread and place it on a wire rack to cool. Allow the bread to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

From My Name is Yeh

Click here for a printable version.

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