"With yeast cakes, Ma set the sponge for light bread that night, and she put the dried apples to soak for pies."- The Long Winter, Laura Ingalls Wilder
I get a bee in my bonnet sometimes to find "THE ULTIMATE..." cupcake, pie crust, etc. etc. A few years ago, rustic bread became my quest. And you know what? Most of those recipes are horrible!!! Not because they make horrible bread; they make amazing bread. But they take too much effort for one loaf. And this is coming from someone who really really loves her bread. So after weeks of heating up my house, baking on stones, spritzing water into 500 degree ovens, I threw up my hands in defeat. Not worth it. Not worth it at all. Until now....
This bread is MAGIC! It requires no kneading (I usually use a stand mixer anyways, so it was no big deal to me either way,) but the magic truly lies in the outcome: airy, soft, chewy bread surrounded in that buttery crunchy crust that is completely irresistible. I cannot tell you enough about how much I love this bread (And I swear by my thighs: I know bread.) The one negative is that you have to plan a day ahead. It is "18 hour bread," after all. But roughly 17.75 hours of that title are consumed in you sleeping, eating breakfast, etc. So here is the link to the recipe from the New York Times & Sullivan Street Bakery:
Try it with some butter and homemade apple butter.
I should have never doubted Erika's second son. For some reason we were discussing this bread a while back (before I tried it), and he spoke of it in very reverent tones, assuring me of its magical qualities. I think if there is any bread in this world that commands that kind of awe in a ten year old boy, it is worth a try.
As a note, I do not own one of those fancy cast iron pots; Le creuset has failed to show up at any of the garage sales I frequent. So I used a cast iron skillet and domed foil around it for the first 30 mins, and removed it afterward. It worked like a charm. You can also use a dutch oven if you have one of those collecting dust in the garage.
Also, I used bread flour :)
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