Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Slice on Bread

Things were surprisingly pretty quiet in the dorms this past weekend. Lots of my housemates went home, while the other bunch of them were off celebrating the resilient life of Cesar Chavez via a mass consumption of that well known beverage of the (-OH) functional group. 

I took advantage of a quiet house by basically dominating the entire dining table with stacks of books and study material, and turning on Jack Johnson. For some reason I really prefer to listen to him in the spring and summer. Can someone please tell me again why he is already married?? Not fair. Aside from stuffing my brain with material on ketones, aldehydes, and z-scores, I also took the time to make bread. 

Living in Chico, I feel blessed to live among such a strong locally sourced food community, and spoiled in all the access that I have to quality products. Last September I discovered Miller's Bread, at the farmers market and began buying a different (gorgeous) loaf each week. The crust was always slightly chewy and dark, the whole wheat made for the perfect amount of bitterness in each bite, and it was honestly unlike any bread I had ever tasted. The reason for its unique flavor and texture is the freshly ground flour. Miller's bread is made by flour that is ground at their own mill; its some that has been sitting in a large brown bag for months on end. When I found out I could purchase this flour for my own baking purposes, I couldn't order it fast enough. Now, if you took a peek in my freezer you would see my portion of space is occupied by bags stacked on bags of flour, along with a few zip locks of cooked beans, tomato paste, and tofu. Basic college kid diet right?

I've used Millers flour to make multiple batches of soda bread and pasta, but I find that its flavor and freshness of it truly shines in no-knead bread. There is definitely something old world about making bread by way of the flour from your neighbors. I may no longer buy their bread, but their flour is one of my standby purchases. 

Knowing from where and who your food is from, and how it came to be is its history. Food with a known history has meaning. When I make and enjoy my fresh bread, it is more to me than just nourishing complex carbohydrates; it is a way of life, an art form, a tie between myself and my neighbor and my community. 

I encourage you all to go out and get to know your local bakers. Even if they do not grind their own flour, I am sure they would be more than happy to build a friendship with someone who enjoys the result of their craft. 

No-Knead Bread
I always experiment with my flour ratios, but have found this one to be the best thus far. Try using a mixture of spelt, or regular white, or rye - that's how you learn what works and what doesn't. Happy bread making! 

3 cups whole wheat flour 
1 cup kamut flour 
2 1/4 cups water plus 2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons salt
½ plus 1/8 teaspoon yeast

brown rice flour for dusting and for your tea towel


1) Mix all the ingredients in a bowl just until they are thoroughly mixed. Cover the bowl with plastic and set the bowl aside for 12 to 18 hours.

2) After the first rising, lightly flour the counter top and use a spatula to remove the dough from th bowl and put it on to the counter top. Fold the dough over on itself from left to right, turn the dough 90° and fold it again. Repeat this action twice. 

3) Lightly shape and dough into a ball and place it on a well-floured tea towel. Fold the towel flaps over the dough to cover, and let it rise for an hour and a half.

3) Allow the dough to continue rising on the counter top while you heat the oven. Turn the oven temperature on to 475° and put the covered pot into the oven. Let it the pot and the oven warm for 30 minutes.

4) Take the pot out of the oven and set it on the first cookie rack, remove the lid. Slide the dough off the tea towel and into the pot. Cover the pot, place it back in the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes.

5) After the 30 minutes is up, remove the lid from the pot and place it on a cookie rack to cool. Set the timer for another 12 to 15 minutes and continue cooking the bread. The crust should be dark but not burned.

6) Take the pot out of the oven and use a large spatula to remove the bread. Let rest, until it finishes crackling and is cool on the bottom. Waiting to taste it is the hardest step in the whole recipe, but if you cut into the bread too early it will not finish cooking properly. 

1 comment:

  1. Words of true wisdom. Also quote from the other day: "Did Kala make bread?" "Yeah." "...That's ridiculous." If only they knew how easy it was. Thanks for the recipe sharing!