Chemistry does all the work for us in this bread that proofs overnight to get its bubbly crumb and wonderfully chewy-crisp crust
THE RAMBLE: WINNER FOR TEAM SPAIN!
LET’S TALK ABOUT my journey with gluten. I have a sensitivity to it (digestive issues), so I grew up baking primarily with oat flour. I didn’t realize that amazing things bread could do until I lived in Spain as an LDS missionary, where bread really is life. I would treat myself every now-and-again to a ciabatta loaf or common baguette, and it was the biggest indulgence to have. The smells of Spain are fresh bread, olive oil, garlic, and curing meat. I am very careful with the amount of wheat I eat, so practicing bread-making doesn’t happen very much around here, although I am fascinated by it and the amazing magic of a sourdough starter. I’m sure one day I’ll get there, but for now, I have Tool Time: Food Processor French Bread (2.5 hrs!) and Rosemary Sea Salt Toasts that I love, and now this fail-proof beginners’ rustic loaf that only has a 5-minute hands-on time, then it sits in the fridge a night or two, then you add herbs if you wish, throw it into a dutch oven or stock pot, and 45 minutes later, you have the best airiest, chewy-crisp bread worthy of a European table.
My favorite flour has come to be King Arthur Flour, just as America’s Test Kitchen recommends, but as a family in law school, I shop for the cheapest I can so I like the quality for the price of Montana Wheat AP flour in the large zip-top bags. For the love of all that is holy, do not use blenched flour! Just a good, unbleached flour will work, or better yet, bread flour (but use just a little less and add as you need).
This bread is so versatile that you could put whatever you’d like into it, different herbs, chopped olives, grated cheese, etc. The original recipe is from Food on Paper, and she uses rosemary and chopped Kalamata olives in hers, I grew to love herbs de Provence, so try what sounds good! Here is another awesome piece from They Draw and Cook to make the melange yourself:
The original recipe also calls for a dutch oven, but I don’t have one, so I use my 6 qt stockpot and it works perfectly every time.
WHO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT baking really great bread: America’s Test Kitchen @TestKitchen, King Arthur Flour @KingArthurFlour, The Fresh Loaf, Jacques Pépin @jacques_pepin, Baked by Rachel @bakedbyrachel, The Sourdough School @SourdoughClub, Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery, Eva from her amazing blog, Bake Street
Chemistry: Herbs de Provence 5-Minute/Overnight Boule
Adapted from Food on Paper, makes one medium boule, about 5 minutes hands-on time, 1 hr 15 preheat/bake time, 1 hour cool down
3 cups unbleached AP flour (preferably King Arthur Flour)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 heaped tsp dry yeast
1.5 c water at 110 degrees F
1 TBS dried Herbs de Provence
1 TBS dried rosemary
flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
- In a medium mixing bowl, add flour, salt, and yeast, whisk together. Add water a little at a time while mixing with a fork. Once evenly mixed but still very sticky, cover with plastic wrap and let rise 3-6 hours in a warm place or up to 48 hours in the fridge.
- Remove dough from fridge to allow to come to room temperature. Place oven rack low enough to allow room for you dutch oven/stock pot. Place a pizza stone or baking sheet on the rack, then your dutch oven or stock pot with its lid, then preheat oven to 445/450 degrees F. Allow to preheat for 30 minutes.
- Right before baking (or whenever your dough has come up to room temp), add your dried herbs, slightly crushing them in your hands to freshen them. Knead into dough (in the bowl is fine) until incorporated and shape into a round as best you can. Carefully remove preheated dutch oven/stockpot from oven and place dough into the center. Sprinkle an even layer of flaky sea salt over the top, then carefully add lid and place back on stone or sheet. Bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove lid and bake another 15 minutes until dark golden-brown. Remove from oven and let cool on a cooling rack at least an hour for best slicing results.
Try this out and let me know how it went for you in the comments! Good? Confusing? Clear? I’d love to hear from you so I can present the best form of these recipes!