I love homemade bread: the feeling of the dough in my hands, the smell of the yeast as it’s rising, the smell of the bread baking in the oven, that first warm wonderful bite. Even with all of this, it has been a long while since I’ve made bread, mainly because I do not enjoy the cleanup of sticky, gooey, yeasty dough from the counter-tops and mixing bowls. Last night though, I was in some sort of manic cooking mode (I almost have my meals for the next week all cooked up, and stored in the fridge and freezer!), and decided that this morning for breakfast there would be bread, homemade bread. And it would be enjoyed with poached eggs.
So, to my favorite bread recipe, because apart from rising time, it’s quick, easy and delicious. It is the no-knead bread recipe that first debuted in the NYTimes: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/081mrex.html and has been floating around the Internet for a few years. What I love about this bread is that it’s so simple and there are so many areas in which to play and experiment. I’m always adding new herbs or trying different kinds of flour or shapes. The plan had been to make it as a round loaf, until I remembered that the last time I made this bread, ah! my baking bowl broke. So no luck there. It was then that I found this post for no knead baguettes: http://steamykitchen.com/6795-no-knead-baguette-stecca.html Brilliant!
I have played with what’s in the bread. I love oats, and think they go deliciously in almost every baked good. To make the oat flour, put 1 cup of steel cut oats in a blender, and blend until a fine flour forms, about a minute or so. Depending on your blender, you may need to stop partway through to move some of the oat flour down towards the blades.
Now, here’s my version of the no-knead baguettes, of which I made two, plus one mini round loaf.
2 cups whole wheat bread flour
1 cup oat flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon instant or other active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups – 2 cups water
2 tablespoons dry rosemary
2 tablespoons dry oregano
1 tablespoon dry thyme
½ can green olives (mine were stuffed with bacon. Yum!)
5-6 cherry tomatoes, halved
extra virgin olive oil, to brush
To make the bread:
Combine the flours, salt, yeast and herbs in a medium sized bowl. Add water and stir until the dough is sticky and shaggy. (Make sure the bowl is big enough to allow the dough to more than double without spilling over. The first time I made it in a too small bowl and there was quite a mess on the counter the next morning!)
Cover the bowl and let it sit for 12-18 hours. The dough should be more than doubled in size. (Mine sat for about 12 hours overnight, but next time I think it could use about an extra 1-2 hours so that it gets really airy and bubbly.)
Prepare a work surface by covering it with flour. Dump the dough onto the floured surface. You may need to scrape the bowl to get all the bits of dough. Fold the dough over 2-3 times, making it into ball.
Oil a large bowl and place the dough into the bowl. Cover the bowl, and let the dough sit for another 1-2 hours. Again, the dough should double in size. It’s ready when if you poke the dough, it springs back. (My dough sat for about 1 ½ hours. It probably could’ve used another 15 minutes, but I was hungry! And wanted to eat breakfast. Don’t be an impatient baker like me; the finished bread will taste better if you wait.)
Pre-heat the oven to 500F and oil a baking sheet, or cover a sheet with foil and oil that. (All I have is a toaster oven, which actually does really well with baking; this just means that I have to do everything in small batches. So the size of your baking sheet doesn’t really matter. Your baguettes loaves will just be shorter.)
When the dough has doubled, and it springs back when pushed with a finger, separate it into as many loaves as you’d like to make. I had three: two baguette loaves and one mini round loaf. Brush the tops with olive oil. Press the toppings (olives and tomato halves) into the dough. (My baguettes had olives and my mini loaf had tomatoes. Before baking, I added extra rosemary to the tomato loaf. You don’t have to.)
For the baguettes, bake 20-25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown (Mine were in the oven for about 23 minutes). For the mini loaf, bake 25-30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown (Mine was in the oven about 27 minutes). Remove from the oven and let cool. Don’t touch for at least five minutes! That is, unless you want your fingers and your mouth to be burned.
The olive baguette and the tomato loaf are delicious! I had a bite of the olive bread to test it out, and my actual breakfast was a slice of the tomato loaf with two poached eggs. A wonderful start to my day. No pictures as I was too hungry to think to grab the camera.
The taste of oats wasn’t prevalent in this loaf. I think next time I’ll add more oat flour, maybe half whole wheat flour and half oat flour and see how that works. The rising times also could have been longer for the bread, but I was hungry and wanted it immediately. This is a really nice bread to mix together the night before, go to sleep, and then wake up to do the second rise, and then bake. This way you aren’t conscious for the majority of the time the dough is rising, and aren’t impatiently waiting, willing the bread to rise faster (as I’ve done a few times when I mixed the dough in the morning).