Sunday, October 7, 2012

“Jim Lahey’s No-Work Bread” with some added work!

by Robbie Barbeau

I felt like making bread this weekend. So I did. I looked through the Bittman book, found this recipe, which I noticed was eerily similar to the ciabatta I’d made before. So I made my ciabatta and I’m calling it Jim Lahey’s No Work Bread, with added work.

I mixed up a poolish the night before. A poolish is just flour, water, and yeast, set aside to ferment before making the actual bread. It’s real wet and real sticky, and after twelve hours, is real yeasty and alcoholic. I mixed two cups flour, enough water and two teaspoons of salt into the poolish, as well as another teaspoon of yeast. I mixed the very wet dough until it was smooth. Then I tossed flour on top, and onto the counter, and poured the dough out onto the counter. I covered this with light towels and let it rise for approximately and hour and a half. I came back, stretched it out, and folded onto itself. Note that there is no real kneading in this recipe, there is only the stretching and folding. This accomplishes the same thing that Bittman is looking for in the No-Work bread: a light, holey crust.

not risen
rising nicely!
I set the oven to as high as it could go and set two loaf pans full of boiling water into the oven. The water makes the oven more similar to commercial, steam-injection ovens, which creates a nicer crust. Bittman makes this approximation by using a cast-iron pot

I shaped three rectangular loaves, put them into the oven, and baked them for twenty minutes before turning them 180 degrees, turning the oven down to 400 F, and baking another thirty minutes. When they came out, they were nice and brown, although one loaf had an ugly bubble on the side. They were dang tasty - the one I brought to my friends was gone in ten minutes.

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