The Loafer’s Loaf
It’s a funny thing, this season of my life, where kids are growing and the family structure is changing. It affects everything, from when I go to bed at night, to planning holidays and vacations, to what I cook and how I shop.
When the kids were young I often made homemade bread. Few things are as quintessentially homey as the smell of freshly baked bread. Somewhere along the line, I baked less until eventually the kids came to refer wistfully to the days when mom used to bake bread.
Recently, my daughter, Katie, texted to tell me that she had baked one of my bread recipes! I was proud of her and more than a little bit happy that she was choosing to continue that tradition. I was also challenged to make time to bake.
So I did. Several times recently I’ve pulled out my big mixing bowl, and one of my enameled cast iron pans and baked this recipe. There are several versions of this no-knead recipe on the internet. But in case you’ve missed it, or forgotten how simple and delicious it is, here it is again.
I call it the Loafer’s Loaf. It’s for those of us who are just a little bit lazy, or maybe we just have too much on our plates. It can quite literally be mixed in less than 10 minutes. It requires another 5-10 minutes of effort after the initial rising period. And that’s it. Really! That’s all it takes to have delicious homemade, fragrant bread.
This artisan loaf is crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside and the perfect accompaniment to anything, but I especially like it with soups. Katie also reports that it makes a phenomenal pizza crust!
Serves 8 (I doubled the recipe for my large loaf)
•3 cups all-purpose flour
•1½ teaspoons salt
•½ teaspoon instant yeast
•1½ cups room temperature water
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and yeast together until mixed. Stir in the water until a chunky, thick dough forms. If it needs a little more water you can add a little more, but just enough to get it barely wet throughout. If it looks like a sticky, pasty mess, you’ve done it just right! Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for at least 12 hours. I typically mix it up in the evening and cook it for dinner the next day.
- When you’re ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 450. Place an enamel coated cast iron pan in the oven for about 30 minutes to heat. (I have also used non-enameled cast iron with great success.) The dough should have risen in size, be fairly wet and sticky and have little bubbles across the surface. Gently scrape the dough out onto a well-floured surface. (Don’t forget … NO KNEAD.) Gently shape it into a ball with flour on the outside. (I usually use my pastry knife to turn in through the flour a couple of times.) Set the dough on a piece of parchment, and cover with plastic while your pan heats up.
- Remove the pre-heated pan from the oven then remove the plastic from the dough. Lift the dough and parchment together into the pan so the parchment lines the bottom of the hot pan. This pan is HOT, so be careful not to touch it’s sides. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake another 10-15 minutes. This will form the golden, crusty, beautiful exterior of the loaf. And THAT’S IT! You’re done! All you have to do now if gather together friends and family and enjoy!
Next week I’ll share my mom’s No-Knead Cinnamon Roll recipe. Like the Loafer’s Loaf, there’s No-kneading needed and it is the best recipe for cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had!
Click here for the printable recipe.