I made a bread!

Last post, I was embarking on two bread projects: one was a no-knead crusty loaf done in a Dutch oven, and the other is an attempt at a sourdough starter. I went with King Arthur Flour recipes for both, because I trust The King implicitly…swear their website has never let me down, not once. Right now, it’s all about trust, because I’m not about to screw around with my flour and yeast supply.

I’m happy to report my crusty bread was a success! I mentioned before that I halved the recipe, because 7+ cups of flour is massive, even for me. The loaf itself turned out great: crusty as promised on the outside, nice and tender on the inside, but sturdy enough to make a fabulous garlic bread or to hold the tomatoes I plan to perch atop a fat slice once I can get out to get some tomatoes.

Things I would do differently:

Halving the recipe worked just fine in my 6.5 quart Dutch oven: it makes a wide, low-profile loaf with oblong slices. Would I make a whole loaf next time? Yes! I feel confident enough in my execution to use all that flour at one time. Alternatively, I have a 2.5 quart Dutch oven that may be fun to make a rounder, perkier halved recipe.

I would not skip / ignore the dusting of semolina flour. I know it’s in my pantry somewhere, but said pantry has been commandeered by dry goods, vinegar, and other essentials, so I swept past it, choosing to just oil the bottom and sides. Wrong move: I had to launch the bread out using a rubber offset spatula because it stuck to the bottom. It came out fine, but it took some muscle. Lesson learned: use the semolina or a nice dusting of cornmeal if you’re lacking in semolina.

Best thing about this was the no-knead part. I actually enjoy a good knead, but I have to be in the right mood, and yesterday, I wasn’t there for it. If you’d like to try it, the recipe is right here.

A note about the Dutch oven part of things: there’s lots of info out there that tells you NEVER to heat a dutch oven empty, lest it crack or explode: it’s simply not made for that sort of task. I was too afraid to tempt fate with my own Staub, so I employed this method: you make the bread in a Dutch oven, but without the preheating, which is way safer on your cookware, and makes a lovely, crusty loaf.

Sourdough starter update: I had my doubts yesterday – day 2 of 5 – because it just didn’t look like it was doing anything. I resisted overthinking it and followed the KAF instructions (here), so divide / discard half / add more flour and water / let it be. Today, things are looking surprisingly good! It has a few bubbles, seems smoother and smells like it should according to The King – fruity, and indeed, it does smell a little like ripe bananas with an undercurrent of general berry. I’ll keep you posted, but if tending to a starter sounds like self-care right now, here are the King’s basic guidelines. My biggest hurdle in this process right now is that it’s cold here, and my kitchen isn’t the warmest place in the world. Find a solid warmish spot and you’re halfway there – for any yeasted bread projects, really.

On the agenda today: I did some layered stocking up of food and essentials over the past few weeks, and in that stocking up, took note of what I currently had in my deep freezer. I always think master lists are helpful when you have large amounts, so we have one of all our frozen meat, vegetables, dry goods, cans/jars, etc., listed out so I can plan meals around our fresh ingredients.

Today, I’m rubbing a pork loin with some fresh rosemary and thyme, a little grainy mustard and garlic, and roasting it. If it sounds extravagant, it’s not: I found the pork loin hanging out in the freezer from a little while ago, and the rub ingredients are all leftovers from other things too. Bonus? It’ll feed us for several days, and I can switch out the sides to make it more interesting.

Also, grilling some chicken breasts for lunch salads: I neglect proteins sometimes without meaning to, and these were also hanging out in the freezer. So that’s me today! Hope you all are staying well.

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  • Reply John / Kitchen Riffs March 24, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    You’re right about King Arthur Flour recipes. We’ve made this sort of bread often, and do just heat our Le Creuset in the oven. Not supposed to, I know, particularly since I know it’s not as sturdy as it looks (example: years ago I accidentally dropped a Pyrex bowl on a small Le Creuset Dutch oven, and a piece of enamel from the Dutch oven chipped off!). Anyway, been ages since we’ve baked bread — but with spot shortages in the grocery stores, may start doing so again. Wonder if that instant yeast that’s in our freezer is still good? 🙂

    • Reply shannon April 14, 2020 at 8:43 am

      You’re a brave soul for preheating the empty Le Creuset! I want to….like, really want to, because I know it would turn out better, but i would cry if i broke the Staub right now. I use it too much to risk it at this moment in time. 🙂
      Go ahead and give that old freezer yeast a go! I’ve definitely fished some out of my fridge that was over the date, but i’ve never had a yeast-related fail yet.

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