Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sullivan's Homemade Crusty Bread-with a shortcut

Post Edit: Thanks to Shanzanne for pointing out that the name of the bread creator is Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery. Forgive the error. I promise to keep making mistakes just as long as you will keep forgiving them.
I am pretty certain at this point that most people have tried the famous no-knead bread. I have and I'm a believer. Sullivan Bakery master Jim Lahey believed that the ancient Romans probably weren't setting a timer for 8 minutes to knead their bread erstwhile eeking out a living and guarding their homes against invading Barbarians. No, more likely than not, they were mixing up some very basic and standard ingredients and leaving the mass to fend for itself for the day. Sullivan mixed up some flour, water, and salt and found that with a very small amount of yeast and an ample amount of time, he could produce some exemplary loaves of bread. The other issue, of course, is capturing the crustiness produced by the blazing hot temperatures of the old wood fired ovens. Lahey found that if you preheat a pot and lid in your oven at 450 degrees for 30 minutes, you could slip in your dough and produce roughly the same effect. It works. The bread is crusty and full of beautiful holes. It was grand.... Except I have to confess that it really bothered me to have my oven on for 30 minutes with nothing inside of it. It's an apalling waste of energy and money. I started skipping the 30 minute hellfire and began putting my pot in the oven for as long as it took for the oven to preheat to 450 degrees. I felt a little better. But wait; it gets better still. A while back, Lahey found that he could produce the same great results by popping his bread into the cold pot and skipping the preheat all together. The first time I tried it, my bread was stubbornly plastered to the bottom of the pan. The next time, I coated my pot with a slick of vegetable oil and the problem was solved.
Here's what you're going to do. Roughly 24 hours before you want to eat bread, mix up 3 cups flour, 1/4 teaspoon yeast (If you're kitchen isn't at least 70 degrees, use 1/2 teaspoon yeast), 1 and 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 and 7/8 cups water. Stir it together just until you have a shaggy mess. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit for somewhere between 12 and 18 hours.

Get a little flour on your hands. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it for a few seconds until it comes together in a smooth ball. I used to take the smooth ball and put it on a floured dishcloth to let it rise for two additional hours. Now, I oil the bottom of an oven-safe cooking pot and dust it with cornmeal and put the bread in there to rise.Here's a picture of my pot when I used to preheat. You could use a Dutch Oven, or a glass casserole dish. I use my regular old stock pot, but I cover the handles with tinfoil, since the handles aren't ovenproof.
If you're using the shortcut method, you won't have to worry about the preheat. In fact, Jim says you can even skip the second two hour rise. I tried it once, but I had better results with a second rise in the cold pot for two hours. Place the cold pot with your bread inside, covered with a lid, in the oven and turn the oven on to 450 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake an additional 30 minutes. Here's what's waiting for you. Ta-da. You're not supposed to slice into it until it cools. I can never last that long. I bet the ancient Romans didn't resist, either. Sullivan's Homemade Crusty Bread-the shortcut
Cost: less than $1 a loaf
3 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon yeast (double it if your kitchen is colder than 70 degrees)
1 and 7/8 cup water
1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
cornmeal for dusting
Stir together flour, yeast and salt. Add water and stir until shaggy and combined. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 12-18 hours. Coat hands with flour and shape dough into ball. Place in pot with lid. (I grease the bottom of my pot.) Let rise for two more hours. Place bread in pot, covered with lid, in the oven and turn the oven to 450 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake an additional 30 minutes.
PS Thanks everybody for all of your Tiger Mother input on the last post. I'm still thinking about it and your comments were very insightful.

24 comments:

Evelyn said...

Holy amazing!! I can't wait to try this. I've just gotta get me an oven proof pot...looks SO good!

Meg Baxter said...

re.: "Place the cold pot with your bread inside, covered with a lid, in the oven and turn the oven on to 450 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake an additional 30 minutes."

Just to clarify - do I bake at 450 for 30 mins AFTER the oven has reached temperature? Or 30 mins from the time I turn ON the oven?

Thanks!

gigi said...

Now, Prudy, that one is a keeper and I can't wait to try it out! I like me some short cuts, thanks!!

Prudy said...

Meg-Bake for 30 minutes starting the moment you put it in the oven, remove the lid and bake an additional 30 minutes for one hour total. Good question-I'll go rewrite my instructions! Good luck!

The Japanese Redneck said...

I luv a good crusty bread. And I have not tried the no-knead breads.

It's the yeast that scares me away. One day I'll get over my fear and try it.

Shanzanne said...

FYI - the name is Jim Lahey from the Sullivan Street Bakery, not Jim Sullivan. You also might want to mention that he uses instant yeast (or rapid rise) not just regular yeast. I'm going to have to try it without the preheat... I've been so successful making this bread I'm afraid to mess with it. I use the Cook's Illustrated recipe, which adds a little white vinegar and beer.

Prudy said...

Shanzanne, Yikes-you're right! I'll fix the name. I use regular yeast, though and it comes out great!

Adrienne said...

Whew, I'm in the market for a no-knead bread recipe. I'm embarrassed to admit that after hand-kneading 6 pounds of dough for 30 minutes I still have sore abs. It was great bread, don't catch me complaining, but this recipe looks a lot less intense. Perfect holes to hold lots of fresh marinara sauce too!

floweringmama said...

Oh my that looks great!



Cathy @ Country Cathy

Katie and Mark said...

Mmmmmm..... This looks so good! I thought I might make it for Sunday, but I'm not sure if I can wait that long! :)

Catherine said...

This looks perfect! I can't wait to try it out. And I don't care if his name is Jim Sullivan or Jim Lahey . . . if you endorse I know it will be great! Thanks for sharing Prudy!

Kim said...

All my pots have glass lids which are not oven-safe, which is really lame.

Could I cover my pan with aluminum foil instead?

Leslie said...

Prudy, I've made bread like this before, courtesy of you showing and telling me how.
It's wonderful and turns out so well, but I will try Jim's suggestions.
I love homemade bread, and love that we grew up with Mom always making it.

Prudy said...

Kim, I'd say go for it. Use a double layer, just for good measure. I also made it in a glass round dish with a glass lid. I'm sure I shouldn't have but it turned out just fine. Maybe yours would, but then again, if it broke I would feel really horrible.

Rachel said...

How do you measure out your flour? I measured by scooping 1/4 cup at a time until I reached the 3 cups but instead of seeming "shaggy" it was "soupy" so I added more flour. Can I just scoop up a whole cup of flour at a time? What to you advise? Made it as soon as I read your post yesterday. It is in the oven now...gonna earn me points with the kiddos when they get home from school!

Prudy said...

Rachel, I use the old scoop and sweep method. This bread is practically full proof, so I'll bet it will work no matter what! Let me know how it turns out.

Prudy said...

Oops, I meant fool-proof!

Frieda said...

This is a GREAT recipe! Didn't know about the shortcut...I'll have to try it. I made this in my removable crockpot liner with the glass lid, which worked perfectly.
Kim, try covering your pot with a baking sheet. Covering the pan is to create steam in the pan, which will help your bread 'spring up' and create a crispy crust. Most Pyrex glass dishes are oven safe.

Michal said...

I've never attempted this bread or even read about it. I can't wait to try it.Yummy. Yummy. Yummy.

CanoeDolly said...

Whoaa!! Made this today, but checking a more original Lehay recipe, quantity of water was ONE AND A THIRD CUPS to 3 cups of flour. Yuppers, I had flour soup or wallpaper paste with the 1 and 7/8 C. water after Step #1. Kneaded in copious flour in Step #2, and fully expected a brick as the result....but hey, although not as "holey" a result as the pic, family deemed this denser-than-expected-but-still-light loaf quite edible.
PS I baked this in a pyrex casserole with lid....an hour total from a cold start....had to drop a loose square of tinfoil over for the last 10 minutes to prevent the loaf from over-browning, perhaps a fault of my convection oven baking in pyrex at 450F??? Centre of loaf was cooked just spot-on, never the less.

Kari said...

First, I LOVE your blog! I make many of the recipes, and they have all wonderful. I'm sorry I haven't posted my praises in the past. I will change that!

Second, I was SO excited to try this recipe, and even happier that CanoeDolly posted that she had wallpaper paste after the first rising -- I couldn't have described it better myself. Yikes! What a mess! I added a lot more flour, and well, the rest of my story is almost exactly like hers. I used my LeCreuset, which is always wonderful for everything, including this! I will try this again, but I will reduce the amount of water. It was still pretty great bread!

I also love your Vermont grilled cheese recipe! As a former Vermonter, I would recommend Cabot Extra Sharp White Cheddar from Vermont. You can order it online, or I’ve found that many Walmart stores carry the 2 pound block for less than $8! https://www.shopcabot.com/product.php?id=4 Once you try it, you’ll never go back!

Love your blog,

Kari

Kameron said...

So odd about people's "wallpaper paste" comments... I'm currently on the cold 2-hour rise portion of the recipe, and it's totally fine! I measured out 2 cups of water, then took out and eighth of a cup... although, I accidentally had a bit too much flour so I ended up adding in that extra eighth of a cup anyway! Add to that the fact that we're currently having a crazy cold spell here in Phoenix (below 30 in the mornings!) and our downstairs air conditioner is broken, so no heat. It's been 55-59 degrees INSIDE the last few days... but my dough still rose just beautifully sitting right on the counter for about 18 hours. Love it!!!

Kameron said...

Update: Bread has baked and is yummy! Perfect crust, perfect texture... but there is a "however". I'm not sold on the taste! I'm wondering if it's because I used all-purpose flour and added ground flax. It almost tastes like there isn't enough "taste" to it. Like it might need more salt or something. But I"m gonna keep going with it, because I think it's a winner! Will grind some wheat tomorrow and try again with fresh whole wheat flour. Thanks for all your recipes!!

Stacey said...

Ok, I've tried this twice and I need some help. The first time I didn't use enough yeast so I doubled it the 2nd time. It was still dense. Do you think my yeast is old? It is crusty though, the oil helps in that dept. Thanks for the recipe.