Eventually, I had to give it a go though...and, it is GOOD!!!!! Look what I got...
It slices well, and makes great toast too...
So, the recipe. It was first published in the New York Times cooking supplement, and I used their recipe - it's since been reproduced in countless blogs elsewhere, so I'm adding to that lineup now!
You will need:
3 cups bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 5/8 cup water
1. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add water and mix until you get a sticky dough. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to prove for 12-18 hours.
2. The dough is ready when the surface is bubbly. Lightly dust a work surface with flour and scrape the dough out of the bowl. With floured hands, fold the dough over on itself, and then leave covered for fifteen minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to prevent the dough from sticking to you, gently form into a ball. Dust a cotton or linen tea towel with flour and place the dough on it, seam side down. Dust the top of the ball, and cover with a second tea towel. Leave to prove for two hours. It should double in size. If it's a cool day, it may take a little longer.
4. Half an hour before the dough has finished proving, turn oven on to 230C. Put a large covered pot - cast iron, pyrex, ceramic - in the oven to heat. When dough is ready, remove the pot and its lid, uncover the dough, slide your hand under the bottom tea towel and gently flip the dough into the pot with the seam side uppermost. Replace lid and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the lid and bake a further 15 mins until golden.
Remove and cool on rack.
Remove and cool on rack.
And, it really is that simple. What you get is a bread with a fine, moist crumb, chewy texture and thick crust. It has a slight tang due to the long, slow prove, like a very mild sourdough. I made another loaf the day before yesterday and it will probably last me about a week, unless Dragon Dad has another toast craving hit him! The batch before, I experimented with the flour and did a half/half mix of white flour and a wholemeal spelt. It took longer to prove, and I got a smaller, dryer loaf. Made wonderful toast, but I didn't enjoy it untoasted as much. Might try again with a bit less of the spelt and see if that's more to my taste. I also want to try adding some whole grain to it - my basic bread recipe, when I'm baking it regularly, is a fairly grainy, bran-y mix.
If you've not made bread before, do give this a try. The only thing you really need to consider is the timing. I usually mix my dough somewhere between 5-7pm. That means I'm doing the shaping around the middle of the day the next day, and I have a finished loaf by mid to late afternoon. So, you do need to factor in 24 hours - but very little of that time is hands on, you just have to be around to do those bits.
As a no gadget type (no, I do NOT have a thermomix, nor do I want one!), this is a great bread for when you want homemade bread but you just don't want to make any effort, or you're too tired - or in my case, too sore - to face the kneading involved with a regular bread dough.
And then, when it gets to the toasting stage, it's time for my favourite breakfast/light lunch/no fuss dinner (!) - and yes, I'm a pig for butter...