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A good day to make bread

January 2, 2011

The world is sunstruck and frozen, and it’s a perfect day to stay inside, feed the woodstove, and make bread.

I found a recipe for amazing and super easy artisan bread in Mother Earth News last year, and have enjoyed it many times since. Today, I thought I’d make it for dinner, to pair with a butternut squash soup recipe I found on my friend Alana’s fabulous food blog (and stay tuned for her book, coming out soon!).

I got to thinking earlier today that it would be killer to grow some wheat and other grains this year, and make this bread entirely from our garden by year’s end (except the yeast). We’ll see if that’s possible.

In the meantime, here’s the recipe.

MASTER RECIPE: BOULE
makes four 1-pound loaves

3 cups lukewarm water (a little warmer than body temp)
1 1/2 T. granulated yeast (1 1/2 packets)
1 1/2 T. coarse kosher or sea salt
6 1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour
Cornmeal for pizza peel (I use a cutting board, and slide the dough atop the cornmeal from that on to the hot pizza stone)

1. Heat the water to about 100 degrees
2. Add yeast and salt. Stir.
3. Add fresh or dried herbs if you’d like. I used a few sprigs of fresh chopped oregano that is growing beautifully in the little spotted pot above the kitchen sink.
4. Mix in the flour, a little at a time. If you’re mixing it by hand, don’t knead it. Use a wooden spoon until the dough is too tough, then press together with wet hands until all flour is incorporated.
5. Cover loosely and let sit at least 2 hours. No need to let it rise several times, punch it down, etc. You can use the dough at any point after the 2 hours (although it’s easier to manipulate if you refrigerate it at least 3 hours).
6. While waiting for dough, drink. Implore 16 year-old son to scoop dead rodent off front walk. Fend of numerous snack requests. Play two rounds of Wii bowling. Lose. Drink more.
7. When the dough is ready, pull some out of the bowl…about two big handfuls or so. Mold into a loose ball, pulling the edges under before plopping onto the pizza peel or cutting board topped with cornmeal. Sprinkle top with flour, then run a serrated knife through the top three times to score. Preheat oven to 450, place pizza stone on oven rack and broiler pan in bottom of oven.
8. Let dough rest 40 minutes. Play more Wii bowling, drink, and continue working on squash soup that the younger kids will later refuse to eat.
9. When the time is up, slide dough onto hot pizza stone and carefully pour a cup of water into the broiler pan. Close oven door quickly to trap steam.
10. Bake 30 minutes, or until crust is deep brown. Remove and let cool on wire rack.

Serve with squash soup while watching Arrested Development on Netflix.

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