Hurricane Harvey may have devastated Houston, but it did not destroy us. Even if you didn’t directly experience the flooding and loss, we are still all touched by it through our friends, families and communities. For almost a year people have been displaced from their homes and the routines of daily living where we find sanctuary. Kitchens are slowly being redesigned and remodeled. Instant Pots, induction cook tops and microwaves are playing a role feeding us. We’re getting back to some basics in the kitchen. I’m back to the basics of bread.
Our Harvey preparations were a last minute affair, so no bread was to be found on grocery shelves. No matter, we had flour, yeast, salt and time. The baking began. I must give credit to my husband for bringing home a bag of Bob's Redmill Artisan Bread Flour when he couldn't locate bread. He made a loaf of pan de mie. I found an easier recipe right on the back of the bag. I’m partial to this very easy, no-knead bread. The crust is not too hard, but has body and the crumb is soft and tender. Great for sandwiches, toast or dipping into soups. I hope you’ll try this. It takes a little planning, but it’s so worth it.
A word on bread and gluten. Unless you have Celiac Disease (I have plenty of patients who do) or have a true wheat allergy (which is rare), you do not need to be gluten free. Our bodies have evolved over tens of thousands of years to digest and process wheat. Wheat is a main source of many B vitamins which are essential for good health, with thiamin and riboflavin being essential for memory and brain function. That said, I do not support the consumption of grocery store and commercial breads which have large amounts of gluten added for longer shelf life and that strangely soft texture; they do indeed cause bloating, digestion, rashes and a whole host of other problems. This is the reason why eating store bought bread in the United States makes you feel sick but you are able to eat bread in Europe without any problems. In most places in Europe the bread is made daily the old fashioned way. Bread should have good flour, preferably unbleached, water, yeast and salt if you like (Tuscan bread is made without salt and is delicious). The gluten that is developed in the dough undergoes a conformational change when baked making it more difficult for the human gut to absorb. Evolution has already done this for us. We just messed things up by adding gluten to everything and turning it from food, which should be fresh, into a commodity to sit on shelves for convenience. So, EAT REAL BREAD. I'm sure there are bakers where you live who are following this noble tradition which has fed the world for ages. Or try the recipe below and become a fresh bread baker yourself.
No Knead Bread-a Hurricane Harvey Recipe
Dutch oven with lid
Large mixing bowl
3 C artisan bread flour
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1-1/2 C warm water
1. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. Add water and mix completely to form a shaggy dough. Cover with plastic wrap and set at room temperature or proof setting in oven for 10 hours.
2. Preheat oven with uncovered Dutch oven inside to 450 degrees for 30 minutes.
3. While the oven is preheating, place dough on floured surface and form into a round and allow to rest for 30 minutes covered with plastic wrap.
4. Carefully place dough into hot Dutch oven, cover with lid and bake 20 minutes.
5. Remove Dutch oven lid and continue to bake another 12-18 minutes until crust is a golden brown.
6. Remove loaf from oven and cool.