Now that winter is here, I feel inspired! Inspired to cook, to create, to bake. Yes, you read the last part correctly, bake. Not a word I use often as I am a fairly bad baker, but this year, inspiration has hit in a big way.
It all began when my Saveur Magazine showed up a few months ago. On the cover, a picture of a baguette. Mmm, bread. Over the years I have managed to make and bake a few stellar breads and buns, but I have found that I do not possess the patience to make such artisanal breads.
Flipping through the pages of the magazine, my mouth began to salivate and thoughts of freshly baked bread came to mind. Could I? Should I? Would this be the year that I finally made it happen? Of course not. That is what husbands are for.
My husband, Doug. A true lover of food and all related products. Once upon a time he enjoyed cooking and baking; and was very good at it. Along I come and take over like a tornado; no more kitchen sessions for this guy. As the years’ progressed, he spent less and less time cooking as I am bossy and would not allow him in. Yes, I am not the nicest person when it comes to kitchen time. He too gets inspired, and I rarely ever let him enter my domain, but have softened finally. He felt the same tinge of excitement as he read the Saveur magazine and was pumped to make some bread on the weekend while I was working.
Doug decided to make a bread called “Filone” which involved making a starter the day before. He had a very intense look on his face as he made the starter and made me vow that I would not tamper with it. As if I would do that! As I left for work on Saturday morning, there he was, in the kitchen, kneading his dough on our big wooden board, oblivious to my hovering. Off I went and wished him good luck, though he did not need it. Upon returning home that night, I was ever so pleasantly surprised to find two loaves of Filone. Crusty and airy, his first attempt was a very good one.
With a success under his belt, he decided to continue on his bread baking streak. After a few discussions with Gordon Stevens of Uncommon Group and Anita Stewart of Food Day Canada, Doug came home excited as a child on Christmas morning. He told me of a no-knead bread.
No-kneading? But, is that not a crucial part of bread making? Apparently not. He showed me the recipe and was on his way to start a batch. This bread seemed too good to be true, and was ridiculously easy to make (I saw a video of a 4 year old child making it!).
He made the dough the night before and left it out on the counter for twelve hours. The next morning, he gave it a quick shape on the board and covered it with tea towels. After two hours, the oven got pre-heated to 232C (450 F) and my cast iron Creuset was put in the oven to heat up too. The dough then got plopped into the pot, covered with the lid and baked for half an hour. Lid came off, and another twenty. What came out can only be described as the best ever bread I have eaten! Warm out of the oven, I slathered it in salted butter and maple butter and enjoyed a moment of nirvana.
I should note that Doug makes this bread now for every TIBS Family Dinner, and not only does it get raves reviews, but no matter how many loaves he makes, they’re always gone before the main course is served! How is that for some amazing bread?
The recipe that Doug used comes from the New York Times dining section and was published on November 8, 2006. I know that there are many variations out there, but this one is too good to not make again.