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Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Baking in the New Year

Like every other blogger, I've been experimenting with the no-knead bread recipe written about in the NY Times a couple of months ago. I've been reading the various food blogs that have been discussing this recipe, and have tried enough experiments to have now gotten the recipe down pat to suit my kitchen, my tastes, and my equipment.

The basic recipe is great, but a bit bland for me. I've tried adding one cup of whole wheat pastry flour, which was still too bland, and then a cup of whole wheat flour that gave the recipe more ooomph but also made the crust less light and crispy. It was a tad too chewy for my taste, too.

I also thought the original recipe didn't have enough salt in it, so upped the salt content (and if my cardiologist is reading, I didn't REALLY do this!) Yes I did to just less than a tablespoon of kosher salt. That did help, but it was still a bit bland.

My next experiment was to add some flavor to the dough right before baking it. I added some fresh grown rosemary leaves and some whole sea salt to the top of the dough while it was in the very hot pan. Now that was good. Really really good.

I tried using a baking stone and water to add steam to the oven, but the initial bread was too flat. Then I tried using my Le Crueset pot that everyone else was using, but that particular loaf wasn't great. I finalized on the All Clad dutch oven which is very heavy and just the right size for the bread to keep it's shape as well as rise spectacularly.

The baking times varied for my oven. My oven is callibrated correctly and baking at 450 degrees with a preheated dutch oven causes the bread to overcook if I leave it uncovered for over 15 minutes past the initial bake in the covered pot for 30 minutes. My oven seems to bake the best loaf at exactly 14 minutes uncovered. It comes out brown and light with great structure, plenty of holes, and a lovely thready glutin result. The crust is light on top and bottom, but very substantial and flakey. The inside is chewy and light. It truely is delicious.

For sandwiches, I've been cutting the bread into quarters, slicing each quarter down the middle and then spreading the filling inside the pocket. This makes an artesinal-type sandwich that is substantial and filling. I find that this bread goes beautifully with smoked herb turkey and avocado with alfalfa sprouts and tomato slices.

If you haven't tried this bread, and you want to bake a true artesinal bread at home, you gotta try this recipe. It is so easy even a child could easily make it from start to finish, and the result is spectacular.

I'd have pictures, but we eat it as soon as it cools. Sad, but true!

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