Fresh From The Oven February Challenge

This month I’m actually writing my blog as I’m doing the challenge. I’ve had a couple of problems already, so I’m really not confident about the outcome on this one, but we’ll soon see.

The http://www.freshoven.blogspot.com/ February challenge comes courtesy of the fabulous Claire Sutton of  http://thingswemake.wordpress.com/ and is a no knead bread. I liked the sound of this straight away, as it will encourage me to think ahead more.  I love making bread but am often foiled by lack of organisation, in that I only think about making some when I’m already hungry!

The recipe sounds easy enough.

The Mix

•15oz Strong White bread flour – it works best with all white I think
•¼ tsp instant easibake yeast (out of a sachet)
•1 tsp table salt
Stir together well then add 10.5 fl oz of lukewarm water (a mugful)

Slosh it round into a gooey lump of dough with a fork

Leave in a big bowl and cover with cling film or put the bowl in a bin bag
Leave it in kitchen for 16-18 hours – or more if you forget.

The 16hr Sloosh

Use a dough scraper/cutter or your fingers, to scrape the wet porridgy dough away from the sides, using plenty of flour to stop it sticking, and shuffle it back into a nice round shape. Don’t be tempted to knead it.

Cover with a tea towel and leave for 2 more hours.

The Bake

Preheat oven to 200-220 and put in a lightly oiled Le Creuset or other large cast iron casserole with a lid on until the oven and the pan are super hot.

Again use the scraper and a good sprinkle of flour to detach the dough from the bowl without puncturing it’s airy goodness. Then quick as you can, without losing the heat from the oven and pan, tip the dough onto one hand then flop it into the hot pan the right way up again and put the lid back on and get it back in the oven immediately.

•Bake for 30 minutes lid-on
•Then cook for 10-12 minutes more, lid-off until golden brown

If it’s not hollow sounding on the bottom put it back in, without it’s tin for an extra 5 minutes. Tip out and cool well before trying to slice.

Claire’s helpful instructions and tips immediately alerted me that not all was well as my mixture was more like ordinary dough than the gooey one she had described, but I knew I had the quantities correct so I persevered. (Knowing I only had time for one go at this challenge my OCDness took over and I double checked everything as I was working.)  It remains to be seen, but I think my crucial mistake may have been in the choice of bowl in which to prove the dough. I have used my trusty old tupperware bowl for lots of proving before, but never so long as this recipe demands. What I failed to anticipate was that the amount of gas produced by the proving process would actually blow the lid off the bowl at some point overnight. It was thus that I came downstairs this morning expecting a lovely proving loaf to be met my the lid some way away from the bowl, and a much dried out dough with a pronounced dried out crust waiting for me.

I dutifully slooshed the dough as described, but I have to say it was more playdough than porridge. As I write it’s baking in the oven and so although I have persevered I’ve no great hopes for this one…..

Well, the first half an hour cooking is over, and my first peak at the loaf suggests that I might just have got away with it. It’s a little eccentric in its shape perhaps, but does at least appear to have risen OK….

The final results

Wow, despite my misgivings on how things were progressing it actually worked! 

 The crust on the bread was so crisp, just how I like it.  I’ll definitely be making this one again.  Thanks Claire for a really fun challenge this month, and for improving my bread making knowledge and confidence.

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