Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bread Made Easy

"Man does not live on bread alone." Luke 4:4

Although we don't live on bread alone, for me it wouldn't be hard! I love bread. Not store bought white bread that sticks to the roof of your mouth, but the hard crusty kind you have to tear apart and fight to chew!

Making yeast bread is an art I never managed to master. Thinking a bread machine would have me churning out perfect loaves, I eagerly purchased one when they first came out. Trying to save a few bucks, my husband found a refurbished model. Right. Out of every five loaves made, only one would turn out perfect.

My faulty bread machine dampened my enthusiasm about bread making and was used less and less. The last time I pulled it out was about four years ago. I was having a large family gathering on Christmas Eve, serving lasagna and Italian meatball soup. Wouldn't homemade Italian bread be good with that? Needless to say, the bread machine let me down again. My loaf, which should have been 12" high, rose only four and resembled a mass of concrete.

Back to the shelf. Why I kept it, I don't know. Perhaps I hoped that next time it wouldn't fail me and produce a tall, golden brown, dome topped flawless loaf, like it had on three other occasions during the 12 years I owned it.

Not long after this, my friend Lisa gave me a recipe for European rustic bread. I think I'd been complaining about my bad luck with yeast bread and she felt sorry for me. Lisa assured me the recipe was easy--and to my disbelief, not even a bread machine was necessary!

I've been making Lisa's bread ever since and have shared the recipe with others who are shocked to learn that I actually made it myself! A big thanks to Lisa!

Oh, so what happened to my bread machine? The day after I made the rustic bread for the first time, the bread maker went to the curb! Hope you enjoy this recipe! As with all yeast breads, several hours must be allowed to let it rise.

Rustic Bread

3 cups flour
1 1/4 t salt
1/4 t yeast
1 1/2 cups water

Mix all ingredients by hand. Knead dough until firm. Cover and let rise 9 hours.
Pour enough oil into the bottom of a cast iron pot with lid to cover bottom. Set inside cold oven. Preheat oven to 500 degrees with pot inside. Once oven is heated, remove cast iron pot and dump dough into it (it should be sizzling hot). Cover, and place back in oven. Bake 25 minutes. Remove cover and bake 7-13 more minutes.

Have a bread disaster story? I'd love to hear it!

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