2 February 2013

No-fuss bread

I had a friend over for brunch.  One of those friends who only order salads when out at a restaurant.  I only have one friend like that. The always-on-a-diet friend. So it was a BIG challenge for the pancake loving gal that I am to come up with an interesting, yet super healthy brunch idea. No bacon. No waffles. No cream. No sugar. Bit of a nightmare.

I resigned myself on a spinach salad. With poached eggs. And avocado. And a side of homemade bread. Butter optional.

This bread was warm, with a crunchy crust and lots of airy bubbles in the dough.  Amazing. I slathered my slices with salty buttery goodness.  My friend ate two slices (sans butter - her loss). Carbs for the win.

It also happens to be the easiest bread recipe ever. You only need to prep the dough the night before to let it rise. Oh, and did I mention there is no kneading? Yeah. Easy-peasy bread.

You'll need:

3 cups unbleached flour
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 5/8 cup warm water

In a big mixing bowl, combine the flour, yeast and salt.  Slowly pour the water and mix with a rubber spatula until it looks like this:

Then cover the bowl with cling film and let the gluten do its thang - for 12 to 18 hours.

The next morning, the dough should have more than doubled and should have lots of little bubbles on top.  Flour your work surface and transfer the dough onto it.  Then fold the dough over itself a few times and form a kind of navel on top.

Then flour heavily a clean tea-towel and pop the dough (navel down) onto it. Flour the top of the dough and wrap the tea-towel over it. Let sit for roughly 2 hours.

30 minutes before the dough has finished rising, turn the oven on to 230°C / 450°F and put a cast iron pot (Le Creuset style) with lid, on in the centre oven.

When you are ready to bake your bread, take the pot out of the oven and delicately place the dough in, navel facing upwards. Pop the lid back on and put in the oven for 30 minutes. Then, remove the lid and bake for a further 15 to 20 minutes. You know the bread is ready when the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it gently.

The crust will be a nice golden-brown (under the flour! If you've put a tad too much flour like me, use a pastry brush to get some off the loaf).

Take the loaf out of the pot and let cool for 20 mins or so. Then slice into it and serve right away, still warm and delicious.

Clearly the bread is the star of this brunch. Move over salad.

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