Monday, March 28, 2011

Easy No Knead Italian Bread

This bread is the easiest I have made.  It is extremely hard to mess up, virtually a no fail recipe.  It has a crispy hard crust and a nice soft center.  It is perfect for sandwiches, garlic bread, or just sopping up a sauce or soup.  You can stretch it out into a longer loaf, but I bake mine in a dutch oven.  Cooking it in the dutch oven gives it the perfectly round shape.

4 cups bread flour
1/4 tsp yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups very warm water, but not boiling
2 tbl fresh rosemary (optional)
roasted garlic diced (optional)
1/4 cup of cornmeal

First I turn on my tap water to hot, to make sure it is warm enough.  I mix the flour and yeast together in a large container that has a tight fitting lid, such as a Tupperware container.  Make sure the yeast is incorporated into the flour before you add the salt, salt will kill the yeast if they come in direct contact.  Add the rosemary or roasted garlic if you are going to.  Spray your spatula with nonstick oil and stir the water to the dry mixture.  Stir for about 3-4 minutes so that all the flour is saturated and the dough becomes a lump.  Cover and let sit in a warm area for 12-16 hours.

With an oiled spatula fold the dough on top of itself and, lay out onto a floured board.  Lay an all cotton cloth down in the Tupperware container, cover the cloth with flour and place the dough back in the container.  Cover with the lid again and let double in size, about 2 hours.  (If you don't have a cloth just flour the inside of the Tupperware container, you could even add a little corn meal to make sure that it doesn't stick to the sides.)

One hour before preheat the oven at 425, put your dutch oven in the oven along with a separate pan.

Once the dough has doubled pull the dutch oven out of the oven.  Dust the bottom with a little cornmeal, and lift the dough out with the cloth.  Plop the dough right into the hot dutch oven, remove cloth, put the lid back on, and place in oven for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, take the lid off and add 4 ice cubes to the second pan, this will create steam to make the bread extra crusty.  Cook for about 15-20 more minutes until the crust is golden brown.

Pull out the bread and let rest on a wire rack for about 2-3 hours.  

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