When I step into (now rarely) our local bakery the smell is what hits me first. It wafts out the front door pulling me inside. Gently, firmly. I enter eagerly into another world: warm, inviting, comforting. Then, the colours. Warm sandy loaves, speckled browns, rich chocolates...
I haven't made bread in a few weeks. Mostly due to our being sick and me being tired... and lazy. Yesterday I conquered my fatigue (read: laziness) and made it to the kitchen to create a loaf. It was therapy to my worn out soul.
I think I've made it clear how much in love with bread am I. Not just any kind of bread. The homemade kind. The fresh from the oven kind. The kind that makes your whole house smell like home.
While we're extolling the virtues of bread, I think it's fair to include another bread recipe. This one was slightly modified from a Chatelaine magazine recipe for a No-Knead Bran Bread. As I had no bran on hand, whole wheat seemed an acceptable substitute. It was my first try at a no-knead bread and it won't be my last. The bread comes out remarkably similar to french baguettes in texture - quite light, even for a whole wheat bread.
NO-KNEAD WHOLE WHEAT BREAD
3 cups all-purpose flour (plus 1 1/2 cups for dusting)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
water (about 2 cups)
Stir 3 cups all-purpose flour with the whole wheat flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Stir in water until blended. Dough should look wet and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rest for about 18 hours at room temperature. (I left mine for 8 hours in the fridge after the first 12 hours at room temp.)
Transfer dough to well-floured surface. Fold it over on itself once or twice. Dough will be very soft. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 15 minutes.
Line a cotton tea towel with a handful of flour. Shape dough into a ball, using flour if needed to keep it from sticking, and transfer to tea towel seam-side down. Dust top with more flour. Let stand for about 2 hours until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Put a 6-8 L stainless steel or enamel pot in oven with the lid for about 30 minutes. (I used my round stoneware dish and covered the glass lid with tin foil.) Remove pot from oven and transfer bread to pot. Shake pan once or twice to distribute dough more evenly. Cover with lid and bake for 40 minutes. Remove lid and continue baking until top of loaf is golden brown (about 15 minutes). Bread should sound hollow when tapped. Remove bread to rack to cool.
We enjoyed ours warm with slices of avocado sprinkled with salt and lemon juice.