Oh my fucking God. Just look at it! The glorious, glorious chasm that is the crack in a freshly baked loaf of bread. Can you hear the crackling!? That snap crackle and pop sound that is a deflating load of bread? Ahhhh.. Hallelujah.
So I’m not much of a baker. There’s something about the science of measuring every goddamn ingredient perfectly, slowly but surely mixing and mixing and waiting that drives me mad. But my buddy Robin, being the exceptional world traveler he is, has taken the art of bread making to heart, even making a point to bake his own sandwich bread every couple of weeks. Maybe it was growing up in San Francisco and one of the more progressive food movements in the country. Maybe it was his years of grad school in Paris surrounded by some of the best bakeries in the world. Or maybe it’s just that he loves the systematic, slow process of baking, but Robin knows his bread.
That being said, when the subject peaked my interest, Robin was the guy to talk to. He gave me some insight on a recipe he came across that even a baking hater like myself couldn’t fuck up. I wasn’t around for the first 18 hours of mixing and rising, but the no knead bread recipe Robin found made a lot of sense to me.
“You just mix up three ingredients and let them sit,” Robin told me. I thought, Ok, I’ll bite, sit for how long? “18 hours for the first rise, 2 hours for the second rise,” was the reply. Fuck, I thought, maybe I’ll just catch the 2nd act then. So after a day of prep, and a quick rerise, I made my way over to Robin’s place with a six pack in a handready to learn about some bread making. Suspect at first, I was happy to find out this recipe was as easy as Robin promised.
It does make alot of sense really, 2 rises and keep the dough covered. Folding the bread over itself a few times isn’t that big of a deal. “Once you poke it and it doesn’t bounce back, the dough is ready,” Robin replies. A key step is heating the pot in the oven while the oven preheats. You want your pot to be hot. Apparently bread needs to be infused with steam to puff up, so once the loaf is ready, toss it in the pot and put a lid that will seal in the air. It doesn’t need to be air tight, but shouldn’t be loose either. This allows the bread’s liquids to steam itself and help it rise.
And the bread will cook for 45-55 minutes. Careful removing the pot, dump bread on table and let it rest. Hear the crackling now? If you turn off the lights you can see the sparks*
Smell it. Listen to it. Stare at it. Fuck. That’s bread my friends.
* Did you really turn off the lights? Wow, you really shouldn’t take me so seriously