I needed a bread for an ETWYRT recipe, and it’s been a while since I made this, but it’s so good. And it’s super easy to make up, it just takes a while. This is a bread that can take two days to make, or you can do it in five hours. Most of that is resting time while it rises. Two things you should know about this recipe: one, it’s very unlike most other bread recipes. And two: there’s NO kneading. At least not in the way you’re probably thinking of.
I highly recommend a stand mixer, sorry. I know many of you don’t have one. But you can do this recipe in a food processor with a large bowl and the bread blade, too.
I developed the recipe from one for five-hour ciabatta bread because I vaguely remembered using something like it in the past quite successfully.
The first thing you’ll need is your stand mixer, bowl, and either the paddle or dough hook. Either will work here.
Put 2 cups of hot (not boiling, just from the tap) water and about 2 tsp yeast (a packet is 2 1/4 tsp, that will work fine) in the bowl. Walk away and leave it for 10-15 minutes. Maybe throw in a teaspoon of sugar, but you don’t need to.
Wander back into the kitchen and throw 2 tablespoons of wheat gluten in the frothing colony of yeast you have brought back to life. Weigh out 500 grams of flour, and put that in along with a teaspoon of salt, then stir it all together with the mixer until it’s roughly combined. Walk away again for about ten minutes to allow the gluten some time to get started. I was cooking other things and cleaning while doing this, it’s easy to multitask around it as it’s fairly forgiving on the time at this point.
Come back to the mixer and set it to a medium speed, and allow to run for ten minutes and more. Keep a close eye on it starting around the ten-minute mark. You want to stop it when it’s really balling up on the paddle/hook and pulling away from the walls of the bowl. At this point, stop the mixer. Grab a large bowl and put a healthy slug of olive oil in it (any oil will work, I just wanted the flavor of the EVOO) and swirl it around a bit to coat the walls. Pour the viscous batter from the mixer bowl into the greased bowl. Yes, it’s very wet. Yes, that’s what it should look like, and adding more flour will destroy that lovely chewy gluten structure you’ve been creating so far.
I flipped the dough ball over to fully coat it with oil, and set it on the counter. It’s 80ish, but in the winter a warming oven isn’t a bad idea. I then went off to do other things, and came back to it about an hour later. It had risen to probably triple the size of the original dough, and I carefully turned it out onto a floured surface. I then cut it in half, and carefully separated the pieces. You do not want to knead here. Don’t even punch it down. Just let it do it’s thing.
Walk away again. Come back in 30-40 minutes (depending on how warm your room is) and start preheating the oven to 500 deg F. Get a sheet pan – I used a full sheet – and lightly flour it, or you can use cornmeal. Carefully flip the rising loaves from your floured surface to the pan, giving them a bit of a stretch to make the slipper shape (think old comfy broken-down moccasins) if you so desire. You want to give them a full flip upside-down, I’m told it arranges the bubble nicely. It also gets that rustic floured look going on both sides.
Set the pan on the stove and let the dough rise for another 30-40 minutes. I could have given mine a bit longer, but the oven was hot and so was I. Slide the pan into the oven and bake for about 15 minutes. You want the bread to be browned and hollow when tapped. It will feel almost too crusty, but that will ease up once the loaf is out on the rack for a while to cool.
Serve fresh, warm, and delicious with pretty much anything. I favor tapenade. Marmalade is also excellent (the proper bitter sort, not the super-sweet and insipid American version). The interior should be full of holes (mine would have been larger had I been more patient on the final rise) and chewy. The crust should be crisp but not too thick.
- 2 c warm water
- 2 tsp (or one packet) yeast
- 500 g flour (roughly 3 cups)
- 1 tsp salt