I have always wanted to learn how to make bread like this, and I think I’ve finally got it.  This recipe originally came from a New York Times article, but I’ve tweaked it a little by using whole wheat flour, and adding some extra goodies into the dough.  It’s incredibly easy to make, requires few ingredients, and no kneading.  My only complaint is that the dough pretty much has to sit overnight, but that’s okay.  It’d also be nice if the bread didn’t turn out quite as flat in the end, but that’s also not a big deal.  This bread is delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 3 c. whole wheat all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 t. instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 5/8 c. water
  • cornmeal or wheat bran (optional – I didn’t add either of these)
  • about 3/4 c. kalamata olives (chopped?  I left mine whole – it’d be good either way)
  • a few cloves garlic (again, either left whole or chopped into slightly smaller pieces)

Directions:

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be soggy and sticky. As you are stirring, add the olives and garlic, or whatever else you want. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees  (I just left mine overnight).

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it.  Sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold the dough over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least 30 minutes before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6 to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under the towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up.  It may look like a mess, but that’s okay.  Shake the pan once or twice if the dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a wire rack. 

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

Note: Next time I’ll try adding rosemary!  This bread would really be good if you add anything to it.  Sun-dried tomatoes, onion, etc., or even something like raisins or currents for a sweeter bread.  :)

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