If you are a regular reader, you might recall seeing this bread on our menu many times. Today I am finally sharing the recipe. This recipe is from a New York Times article that created quite a buzz several years back. It is the from the renowned bread baker, Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City. He eventually came out with his book, My Bread, with all his bread baking secrets.
I tried the original as is and it was really good, but the one thing missing for me was the size. I wanted a big rustic loaf. One that not only I could use for the dinner table bit for the rest of our weekday meals. So, I doubled the amount of ingredients and added a bit more salt. Baked in a 5-quart seasoned cast iron dutch oven, this loaf of bread is a thing of beauty. It is 10-inches wide, about 4 1/2-inches tall at it's highest point, and weighs between 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 pounds (that's today's weight).
This is a simple bread to make; no kneading required, but it does take some advance prep and time. Below I have included a few step by steps to help you with your bread dough skills.
*I highly recommend using gram measurements for best results*
First, mix the flour, salt, yeast, and water in a large bowl or gallon container until wet and sticky; flour should be completely incorporated. If not, add a tablespoon or two of water. Cover lightly with a towel, plastic wrap or a loose fitting lid and allow to rest in a warm, draft free spot to ferment, about 12 and up to 18 hours. This long fermentation is the key to great flavor.
After the first rise, the dough should have doubled in size and bubbles should appear on the surface. Generously dust a work surface with flour.
Turn the dough out onto the floured surface in one sticky piece.
Using floured hands or a bowl scraper, gently lift the edges of the dough and fold in toward the center working around the entire dough.
Pinch the top of the dough to hold in place.
Generously dust a thin cotton tea towel or linen cloth with flour and wheat bran.
Place the dough seam side down on to the prepared towel.
Sprinkle the top of the dough with more flour and wheat bran.
Lightly cover with the sides of the towel and say, "nighty-night" for another hour or two.
Preheat the oven and heavy pot or dutch oven with a lid in a 475º F oven. Carefully invert the dough into the hot pot, cover, and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the lid and bake until deep golden brown.
Carefully remove the hot bread to a baking rack to cool. But don't leave the kitchen. Wait a few moments and listen carefully. The bread will begin to-- sing?! That's right, as the hard crust contracts and cools, it sings! Nothing like being serenaded by your food:) Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing.
Once cool, slice and enjoy warm for dinner, a slice toasted for breakfast, and anything in between. Just look at all of those nooks and crannies just waiting to be slathered with butter or drizzled with olive oil--mmm!