We love good bread. Everyone in my family loves bread. Perhaps it is in my genes as my grandfather was a bread maker in Greece. We are always in search of good bread. My Dad purchases his bread daily from a little corner bakery in South Philadelphia. My husband on several occasions has tried to find out where this heavenly place is, but the directions provided were never very clear. Convinced that my Dad wanted to keep this great bread place a secret, we went in search of it the day before Easter. We found it! It took a combination of GPS, several calls to my Dad, and driving in some circles, but we made it. The things we do for good bread!
There are not too many places that have the sort of bread we are looking for-crunchy crust with soft bread inside that is perfect for dipping into olive oil. It would be great to make my own bread. I did it once, with the help of my Aunt in Greece, but I barely did anything as she worked her magic. My attempts at Greek Easter bread failed, but this time I did it! Utilizing a very simple recipe and waiting more than a day for it, the bread was the perfect consistency and delicious with olive oil. It was so yummy that my husband ate it alone as his dinner.
Rosemary-Lemon No-Knead Bread (from Williams Sonoma Recipes, Adapted from Sullivan Street Bakery (New York City) and Mark Bittman, “The Secret of Great Bread: Let Time Do the Work,” The New York Times, Nov. 8, 2006)
What you need:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 3/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp. chopped lemon zest
Cornmeal as needed
In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt, rosemary and zest. Add 1 5/8 cups water and stir until blended; the dough will be shaggy and very sticky. 5/8 cups = 10 tablespoons or about ¾ of one cup. I am not sure why the recipe includes such a funny measurement, but it works nonetheless.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at warm room temperature (about 70°F) until the surface is dotted with bubbles, 12 to 18 hours. I made my dough around 6:00pm and didn’t get back to it until 1:00 pm the next day. There is not a lot to physically making this bread, but there is a lot of waiting around for it.
Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle the dough with a little flour and fold the dough over onto itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap (wax paper worked fine as well) and let rest for 15 minutes.
Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or your fingers, gently and quickly shape the dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel, preferably a flour sack towel (not terry cloth), with cornmeal. Put the dough, seam side down, on the towel and dust with more flour or cornmeal. I didn’t really understand where the “seam side” of my ball of dough was located because it was in a round ball, so I just picked a side and placed it on the towel. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise until the dough is more than double in size and does not readily spring back when poked with a finger, about 2 hours. I left it alone for about 2 ½ hours, and when I returned to it, the dough had sort of spread itself out, and didn’t appear to get any taller.
At least 30 minutes before the dough is ready, put a 2 3/4-quart cast-iron pot in the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F.
Carefully remove the pot from the oven. Toss dough into the pot. Shake the pan once or twice if the dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the loaf is browned, 15 to 30 minutes more. Let cool for 10 minutes.
The bread looked beautiful when it came out. It was the perfect golden brown and looked very crusty. I think applying the cornmeal while dusting assisted with the look. I did not really taste the lemon in the bread, but the rosemary was definitely present. However, next time I think I will forgo both ingredients, and make a traditional loaf of bread.
Tip: To store, put bread in a brown bag, then put brown bag in a plastic bag and tie it up.