Simple Crusty Bread

My daughter is the bread lover in our family.  Wait, I take that back.  We are the bread lovers of our family!  While Tony can low carb and not touch a piece of bread for months, Hannah and I immediately go through withdrawal if we don’t get our fix.  You can’t get much easier than this.   This recipe is from “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day”  The secret is that this is baked at a high temperature with a water bath to steam the outside for a crunchy crust. 

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of yeast (which turned out to be 1 packet + half of a second packet – I need to buy it loose to measure better)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough

In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees).  Stir in flour with a wooden spoon, mixing until there are no dry patches.  Dough will be quite loose and sticky.  I covered with plastic wrap sprayed with Pam.  Let dough rise at room temperature for 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).

Bake at this point, or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks.  When ready to bake, sprinkle a little (I used more than a little) and cut into four pieces.  Each one of my doughs weighed in at about 6 ounces.  Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch the surface creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom.  Put dough on a pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal and rest for 40 minutes.

Place a broiler pan in the bottom of the oven.  Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.

Dust dough with flour; slash the top with a serrated knife.  Slide onto stone (I had to lift it up as it kind of stuck to my pizza peel).  Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam.  Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes.  (Mine took 28 minutes).  Cool completely.  Are you kidding?  We let it cool all of about 5 minutes!

here's how it looked after the two hour rise

here's how it looked after the two hour rise

here they are resting on my pizza peel

here they are resting on my pizza peel

So as I was reaching to open a new canister of corn meal, Hannah tells me that we have two that are already opened, and I should use those first.  Um, I am not kidding, the one I took out of the pantry expired in 1999! 

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Yep, it was made in 1997!!

Here is what the bread looks like in all its delicious glory:

This is hands down the best bread I have ever made!

This is hands down the best bread I have ever made!

Sliced up ready to eat:

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So although Hannah and I could have eaten this bread all by itself as a meal, I did make other things – crunchy pork chops and spiral macaroni and cheese.

For the pork chops I took two pieces of the last of our Panera sourdough bread and put them in the food processor with a drizzle of olive oil, minced garlic and Italian seasoning.

don't chop the bread crumbs too fine

don't chop the bread crumbs too fine

I brined the pork chops in 1 quart of water to 1/4 cup salt for 30 minutes.  I patted them dry, tossed them in flour to coat, then into a mixture of 2 egg whites a 1 tablespoon dijon mustard mix.  Then into the garlic bread crumbs, pressing the bread crumbs into the meat.

I put them in a cast iron skillet on medium heat in about 1 teaspoon of canola oil and Pam spray.  I pan fried them just until both sides got crunchy, then finished them off in the oven at 350 until the meat thermometer reached 150. 

here's how they look before the first flip

here's how they look before the first flip

here's how it looks on my plate - this weighed in at 4.5 ounces

here's how it looks on my plate - this weighed in at 4.5 ounces

With my side of mac n cheese:

I used some of my garlic bread crumbs on the top - so good!

I used some of my garlic bread crumbs on the top - so good!

As I was clearing the table, and Hannah was loading the dishwasher, she took the liberty of taking some extra pictures!

Love you Han!

Love you Han!

So I ran out of time for my superbowl recipe, but I’ll do that tomorrow – in my head its simple and good, but you never know!

Night all, see you in the a.m.