Helping Mom bake bread or make cookies with a chair pulled up to the island so I could get tall enough to see. Getting my hand smacked by Mom when I tried to commit larceny of the crispy turkey skin on Thanksgiving day. Watching Mom think as she leaned up against the warm stove on a winter day. Everyone should have kitchen memories of Mom like that. While I couldn’t be with my mom on Mother’s Day, I decided to do some home cooking to honor her: bread, roast chicken and potatoes.
I found this great peasant bread recipe on Food Network. It sounded pretty easy – a no knead bread. Kneading really doesn’t bother me, I kind of like to pound the dough into submission. But I was ready to change it up so I mixed up the dough and left it to sit for its rise of eighteen hours. Doing good.
It was Sunday morning. I turned the dough out onto a floured counter and tucked the sides in like I was told to in the recipe. I put it on a floured piece of parchment paper. The recipe said to cover it with a kitchen towel, but after one experience where I was scraping gooey dough off of a towel I opted to lay a piece of plastic wrap sprayed with olive oil over it, then add the towel. It started to rise and all was well. It looked kind of pregnant on the counter. If my counter is pregnant, does that make me a mother or a grandmother?
I was looking over the recipe to make sure I was good to go for the bread. Good thing…I failed to read the part about needing a dutch oven to do the baking in. Let’s just say it…I don’t learn. Shoot first and ask questions later. Someday I’ll grow up. But in the mean time, I needed a dutch oven and I needed one fast.
Options: a Lodge cast iron dutch oven. Reasonably priced, good looking and long lasting. Drawbacks: it needs to be seasoned and I don’t have that kind of time. (I don’t trust “pre-seasoned” and if I’m going to do enameled, well….see next.) Next: Le Creuset dutch oven. Expensive, but cool as heck and I’ve always wanted one. So the choice was made.
I had to wait for Williams-Sonoma to open before I could dash in and pick one up. Once I was there…more choices. What color? Round or oval? Luckily I knew what size I need from the recipe and was clearly looking at the 3 1/2 quart. Red would go with my kitchen and honor my mom (her favorite color is red). After some discussion with the clerk at WS, I opted for the oval. I was the proud mother of a Le Creuset baby.
I ran home, cleaned up my baby and stuck it in the oven. That sounds just awful.
In this recipe, you pull the hot dutch oven out of the oven and invert your risen bread dough into it. Carefully. This junk is hot. It sizzles and everything, so that’s kind of fun. Cover it and back into the oven it goes for 30 minutes. De-lid and let it go for another 15 to 30 minutes. Mine was done in 15.
The bread came out nice and crunchy on the outside – perfect! When I cut it open…oh, my. Chewy and moist. My baby can make some bread. I immediately shared with test subject Bill, who announced it far superior to my other bread efforts. Score!
(I made this bread again yesterday, this time doing the optional refrigerated rise of 12-24 hours prior to the 18 hour counter rise. It resulted in a bigger loaf, but didn’t really do much flavorwise. I’ll skip this step from now on. It doesn’t need it.)
While the chicken stuffed with my CSA herbs and surrounded by farmer’s market red potatoes roasted away in the oven, I munched on bread. It was true love.