Sunday, February 04, 2007

About Finding Bread on TV

OK, first the admission that I watched Martha Stewart on TV in the middle of the day in the middle of the week. It was just while I was eating lunch in the den. Never mind the rest but know that I know that my friends mockingly call me Martha Stewart behind my back.

Anyway, the guest happened to be the baker of the famous Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City who was there to demonstrate his No-Knead Bread recipe which apparently everyone knew had been circulated widely on the Internet after publication in the New York Times. Intriguingly, Martha mentioned that she loved this recipe so much she took it with her on her recent cruise in the Greek Islands (!) and the on-board chef graciously made if for her shipmates…so they would not have to be without New York bread I guess…God forbid they would eat bread made in Greece?. Anyway, in the TV demo kitchen, Martha submissively made the bread along side of the baker and although she played with her dough much more than instructed and insisted on adding more salt that he directed – even when he warned against adding too much - it did look easy and I searched for and easily found the recipe online.

Besides having to have a large dutch oven pot, the only difficult thing about this recipe is that you have to plan about 20 hours ahead of time and work backwards so that you’re not putting the bread in the oven at 2 am or something. For me, starting in the evening for a noon-ish or early evening final product the next day is perfect. The first steps seem ridiculously simple, considering the sophistication of the final product. You mix dry flour, yeast and salt (so Biblical, so simple), add some water and put it away for 12-18 hours. This gooey mess doesn’t do much but rise a little and bubble. When you get back to it, it looks particularly unappetizingly grey and indeed, alive. After you play with it just a little (this is the part Martha wanted to over-do), give it a gentle dusting of corn meal, and then leave it alone for another 2 hours, it’s ready to go in the oven. So far, mine have taken less time that the recipe suggested, about 30 minutes with the lid on, then only 10-15 minutes with the lid off. Then voila, a gorgeous loaf of break that is probably $10 in a New York City bakery. Astoundingly easy.

I’m thinking that all the bakery owners in the world now hate this man for revealing the profit margins they are enjoying and revealing the simplicity of their ingredients and their art. Also for encouraging home cooks who had been intimidated out of the practice to start making bread again. I have.

Check this out: