Monday, March 12, 2012

Artisan Bread and Poetry

It isn't sunny in Cincinnati today!  In fact, it's been raining most of the day... softly pelleting the earth, not hard and angry as is sometimes the case.  I just heard that one of my good friends lost her mother, and it reminds me of a short poem I wrote once, many years ago:

It’s raining in my heart
Soft, liquid love
Seeping iridescent drops
feeding rainbows of the soul.

Rest well, blessed lady... you have enriched many lives, and will be missed by many!

A rainy day cries out for the comforting smell of bread baking... and here is a recipe for delicious artisan bread that  my son discovered on the internet, from an old newspaper article.  I've tried for years to  make a good artisan bread without success, so this was a wonderful place to begin making breads that are even better than the expensive European breads in the grocery store!  Unfortunately, it isn't low-carb, so I don't make it very often... mostly just when company is coming so I'm not tempted to eat the whole loaf by myself!  The photo is one my sister took of one of her first attempts, and it tastes even better than it looks.  The crust is crisp and chewy and the inside texture is actually moist, reminiscent of the inside of a cream puff.  We've experimented with different flours and additions, so you are only limited by your imagination.  It takes only moments to mix the batter up. 

No-Knead Artisan Bread

3 cups bread flour 
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1 to 2 teaspoons salt, according to your taste
Cornmeal or bran as needed.
1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball.  Sprinkle a piece of parchment paper with flour, put dough seam side down on paper and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. May score the top with a sharp knife, if desired.  Cover with a cotton tea towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than doubled in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 2 to 6 quart heavy covered pot or casserole (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven and take cover off.  (Don't burn yourself!)  Lift paper with the dough carefully and put it in the casserole, leaving the dough on the paper.  it may look like a mess, but that is okay.  Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 5 to 10 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.
The dough is slightly sour from raising for so long, and I have left a bit of the dough in the bowl and added the new ingredients to that, using the left over dough as sourdough starter.  I've also developed a delicious multi-grain recipe that I will share in another blog.  Try variations:  about 10 or 12 whole peeled garlic cloves stuck into the raw dough before it raises, folding it over itself to enclose the garlic cloves; Greek olives sliced and sprinkled with grated cheese, laid on the raw dough before raising, then folded over itself to enclose them.  I haven't yet tried dried red and green peppers in the dough, but wouldn't that be a beautiful holiday bread?  There are so many possibilities... tell me what you've tried!

My break time is over... time to get some laundry done and do some more housecleaning.  I have company coming this weekend, and all of my chicks will be back in the nest!  Nothing makes me happier than when all of my family is together.  Last August was the last time we were all together, and my oldest daughter took some family pictures.   One of my favorite Christmas gifts was the framed enlargement (about 18 x 24) that she gave me of most of the grandchildren... one granddaughter was missing from the portrait, because she was working... but nine of them are included in the photo.  They range in age from 3 to 22, and each one of them is a delight!

Have a wonderful day where ever you are.  Make a phone call or visit to someone you love... we never know how long we'll be together.  


  1. I'm going to have to try that!

  2. That bread looks so yummy and the garlic version even more so!

    I also try to watch my carbs and sugars too. I like the recipes at and I'm always on the lookout for those kinds of recipes as well as low sodium for hubby.

    No fair that even tho we are 20 in spirit, our bodies after 60 (or sooner) need special care so that we CAN reach 90+ in good health.

    I am originally from the Canton / Akron OH area.

    warm quilt hugs, sue in CA