rustic French boule [a.k.a. no knead bread)

Two posts in 24 hours? Crazy, right? Not. There will be a lot more now that law school is officially done (and I am still able to procrastinate the whole moving thing…) And not only is this my second post in 24 hours, but it is another bread recipe. If you know me, you know that this isn’t an extraordinary thing. I. love. bread. I love baking all different kinds of bread. I love eating even more different kinds of bread. I love forcing my bread on other people. Oh, I’m late for study group? Here’s some sweet potato bread to make up for it. It’s just a thing. I also fail 50% of the time I try to make bread. But that’s what cooking/baking new things is all about, right? Right. 

One of my dear friends taught me how to make this bread a little over a year ago, and I’ve been addicted to it ever since. He also taught me the art of the pizza (although he scoffs wholeheartedly at my use of wheat flour). He is a much more proficient bread-baker than I am, and so he won’t approve of my lack of scale-usage… but I do what I can. So, with that out of the way, let’s learn how to make bread. 

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Rustic French Boule [no knead bread] – recipe courtesy of the Sullivan Street Bakery 

[there aren’t any picture of the process, because this post is *gasp* backlogged… but next time I bake it – which, let’s be honest, won’t be too far down the road – I’ll add some photos so y’all can see what each step should look like. But the whole thing is superbly easy, so don’t be deterred by the lack of photo!]

Ingredients

  • 3 c flour (all purpose) [note: if you want to make whole wheat, it gets trickier. The ratio still needs to be probably 3:1 wheat-to-white if you want it to rise properly]
  • 1 1/2 c H2O (room temp)
  • 1/4 tsp yeast (dry active – you can get it at any grocery store in small packets)
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt (but it’s better with a dash more) 
  • olive oil, for coating
  • extra flour or wheat bran, for dusting 

Equipment:

  • 2 mixing bowls
  • plastic wrap
  • 6-8 qt pot, with lid (that can be used in the oven. I use my great grandmother’s cast iron dutch oven – see below!) 
  • 2-3 cotton dish towels
  • wooden spoon or spatula 

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Directions:

Mix all your dry ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the H2O and incorporate it with either a spatula or your hand for 30 seconds to a minute [I find that using your hand is the easiest way]. Lightly coat the inside of another mixing bowl with olive oil and drop your dough in it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest for 12 hours at room temp [I like to put it in the oven (not on, of course!) so it’s out of the way. It also helps to do this if you live in a drafty house like ours and it gets cold during the winter!] 

After 12 hours, remove the dough and fold it over twice (fold it in half, on top of itself; then fold it on top of itself, again). Let it rest for 15 minutes on your work surface. Next, shape the dough into a ball. Coat one of your cotton towels (generously) with flour or wheat bran and place the dough-ball seam side down on it. Dust with flour/wheat bran and cover with another cotton towel for 1 to 2 hours, or until the dough has at least doubled in size. 

Preheat your oven to 450-500F (I usually err on the lower side because our oven is super hot) with your pot inside. You want to pot (with lid) to preheat for at least 30 minutes prior to baking. Once the dough is ready and the pot is good and hot, remove it (carefully!) from the oven and place the dough inside. Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the lid and bake uncovered for another 15 – 30, or until the loaf is nicely browed (again, I err on the lower side). Let your loaf-of-deliciousness rest for about 15 minutes after removing it from the oven to finish the internal cooking. Then voilà! You’re a bread baker. See, baking bread wasn’t nearly as hard as it sounds, was it?

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