Saturday, May 14, 2011

My Bread – well, it’s Jim Lahey’s bread really...

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Robert Browning said “If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens." Try saying “tastest” with a mouth full of bread J but he’s right. I could happily work my way through an entire loaf, warm from the oven and slathered with butter – fresh raspberry jam optional.
Flour, water, salt, yeast... and time

Bread has the power to win hearts and sell houses. When I say bread, I mean the sort made with love, not with industrial machinery.
In a recent giveaway, Absurd Baker very kindly sent me Jim Lahey’s My Bread: The revolutionary no-work, no-knead method. Jim is a man in love with bread. The introduction follows his progress from Tuscany in the ‘90s, through selling bread in a SoHo street market, to the Sullivan Street Bakery and beyond.
Bread in a pot - weird... but wonderful!
He talks about the ‘singing loaf’ in his overview of the method: the loaf crackles as it cools in the final and very important phase of baking as the damp crumb forces steam through the dry crust. Cut into the loaf before it sings and suffer average bread. Defer that pleasure until the bread has sung, for an entirely different experience.
I’ve made two of Jim Lahey's breads: the basic recipe and the Pane Integrale – a wholewheat version – both using his bread-in-a-pot method.
In some ways, if you’ve never made bread before, you have the advantage with this book because you are not comparing it to traditional kneaded doughs. In the recipes I’ve tried so far, I’ve found the dough alarmingly wet - almost porridgy. However, because this bread is no-knead, handling is minimal and the dough firms up a little as it rises. Lahey uses a mere 2 grams of yeast – a quarter of what I would normally use. 2 grams of yeast is sufficient because of the long rising time.

From porridgy dough to 'Pane' perfection
If you are a seasoned baker, hold your nerve. You think it’s not going to work out and the whole cook-it-in-a-pot thing is downright weird... but actually, it’s how my great-great-grandparents would have cooked their bread and the result is sensational. The basic loaf didn’t last long enough to be photographed.
After commenting that the finished Pane Integral looked like a cowpat (it is rather flat) my beloved helped me polish off half the loaf in one sitting. The crumb is open and even and the bread has real flavour despite having the most basic of ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast.
I am going to work my way through this book: there is carrot bread, peanut bread, chocolate bread. There is foccacia, and pizza, and olive bread, and the book’s party pieces such as Stecca (next on my list to try). The book is illustrated with clear step-by-step photos where needed.
Absurb Baker, you said I’d enjoy this book. I LOVE it!

My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method by Jim Lahey with Rick Flaste
Published by W & W Norton and Co
ISBN 978-0-393-06630-2
Hardback
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28 comments:

Parsley Sage said...

Every time I decide to give baking bread another go, it fails miserably. I think its because of the kneading. This books sounds like it might be perfect for someone who is kneading disabled! Thanks for sharing :)

Dee said...

I absolutely love bread. It's my major downfall. I have been know to go to a restaurant just for their bread. This recipe looks so great!

Butrcreamblondi said...

This bread in a pot thing sounds really interesting! The bread you made looks fabulous and great photos!

Jill Colonna said...

That sounds a great book! Definitely a must for making homemade bread: love the sound of the peanut or carrot bread, too. No knead? That's something I need! ;-) Can smell it from here.

Manu said...

There is NOTHING better than freshly baked homemade bread!!! It always makes me feel happy... must be the aroma floating in the air!!! This one looks sensational Hester! I love focaccia too and would love to make it... maybe one of these days! Now I am hungry and I just had breakfast!!! sigh <3

Simply Life said...

this looks like the perfect consistency!

Dee said...

I absolutely love bread. It's my major downfall. I have been know to go to a restaurant just for their bread. This recipe looks so great!

Butrcreamblondi said...

This bread in a pot thing sounds really interesting! The bread you made looks fabulous and great photos!

Joy said...

The bread looks so cool!

Spicie Foodie said...

I love that bread quote! You are so right about good bread not industrial, plastic tasting bread. I love to bake my own. This bread and the book sound like things I need to have in my kitchen. Thanks for sharing.

Culinarication said...

Mm, I love bread. This sounds like more of a mental challenge than a 'physical' one (who doesn't hate that feeling when you feel your recipe is going to fail even before you're finished with it!) but the results look great!

Tiffany said...

Cool! Thanks for the book review! I am not afraid of the kneading ... I am afraid of the yeast! :D

Jill Colonna said...

That sounds a great book! Definitely a must for making homemade bread: love the sound of the peanut or carrot bread, too. No knead? That's something I need! ;-) Can smell it from here.

michelangelo in the kitchen said...

Your bread really looks tasty! You have just convinced me to make it mine too. Thanks for this healthy reminder to make bread that's good for you! Cheers!!!

Parsley Sage said...

Every time I decide to give baking bread another go, it fails miserably. I think its because of the kneading. This books sounds like it might be perfect for someone who is kneading disabled! Thanks for sharing :)

Pauline said...

I love bread and butter so this is beautiful to me :-) interesting about the amount of yeast too, sound a good book.

Koci said...

Wow! I'm always a huge fan of bread, but this method sounds so cool. I've never heard of bread made in a pot, but I totally want to look into that cookbook and give some recipes a try!

Stephanie @ 52 Kitchen Adventures said...

Homemade bread is wonderful, but I never think to make it because of all the work and time involved. This book sounds really interesting! Thanks for sharing, Hester!

Ryan said...

This sounds wonderful! Homemade bread is the best! I've given you the Versatile Blogger award because I have so enjoyed your delicious blog! Here are the details: http://www.ryanbakes.com/2011/05/versatile-blogger-award.html

Absurd Baker said...

Hester, your review is so great. As you know, I mainly became a baker after adopting Lahey's method. I just can't have enough of it, and I always dream about baking the one with sea water. And gosh, I am so lucky that you were the one to receive it - I am sure you already captured its soul and elegance. Cheers to someone who made his bread to be ours!

Gourmantine said...

I love the smell of fresh bread in the house, it just gives a wonderful feeling! Your's turned out so beautifully, though I would say that raspberry jam is more obligatory than optional :)

5 Star Foodie said...

This bread looks amazing, such wonderful texture, would love to try it!

A SPICY PERSPECTIVE said...

Ahhhhh, homemade bread! I've got to try this one. :)

Sarah said...

Looks perfect! And no knead- can't wait to try!!

Meagan @ Scarletta Bakes said...

Lovely bread! It does look like the perfect consistency - thank you for the book recommendation as well!!

Manu said...

Dear Hester... There is an award waiting for you here: http://www.manusmenu.com/pumpkin-and-barley-soup Come pick it up! :-)

Chris's Gourmet Fashion said...

This bread looks so good, I think I could make a meal out of it! Nothing like nibbling at bread that is freshly baked and just out of the oven (yes I know you're supposed to wait but...)

Mother Rimmy said...

I just bought this book on Amazon and it came in the mail this past week. I can't wait to give it a try!