Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Mothers’ Day

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Woo hoo. Mothers’ Day. No boys here so looked for a photograph of the three of us and was surprised at how few I have. I am always behind the lens so that is something I must remedy.This one dates from 1993.

OK, so I shall post the bread recipe, not just for all you mothers out there (although baking bread for your children does seem a very ‘motherly’ thing to do!) But for everyone who wants an easy, bomb proof, delicious bread recipe.

No Knead Bread

3 cups of strong white bread flour

1/4 teaspoon dried yeast

1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

1 1/2 (ish) cups tepid water

Place dry ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Add water, just enough to bring the dry ingredients together to form a rather wet dough. Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for 18 hours. At the end of this time, the dough will have risen and will be stringy.

Tip out onto a floured surface and quickly, fold in half one way and then again the other way – no kneading necessary. Repeat. Place the dough onto a floured tea towel (not towelling) and cover with other the half of the tea towel and leave for 2 hours to rise. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

Turn oven on to highest setting 250 degrees at least and place a pyrex or cast iron pot with lid into the oven to heat up. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. 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 15 minutes, or so until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

The beauty of this recipe is that it a very forgiving. The timings don’t have to be exact exact – leaving the dough for the initial rise more or less than the 18 hours stipulated doesn’t seem to be a problem, the second rising time is equally flexible. The cooking container can be a variety of sizes- can make a baguette shape using a smallish fish kettle for instance. I have tried the recipe using whole meal flour which doesn’t rise quite so well but if you keep the proportions to 2 parts white flour and 1part wholemeal, this is more successful.

And the bread is delicious, like a slightly chewy ciabbata, which has a wonderful crust when fresh but keeps for a couple of days.

For a video of this bread being made and the original recipe, plus an article about variations to the recipe see the following links on the New York Times web site.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/08mini.html?ex=1174363200&en

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http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/06/dining/06mini.html?ex=1174363200&en

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