Work-free Wednesday: Simple bread, simple spreads, simple joy.
Love Basket: Simple bread, great pan, delicious spreads.
I call this post a "Work-free Wednesday" post ... not because I'm not working for you here, taking pics and directing this culinary empire, but because this bread recipe is so easy.
And I'm making it easier for you with nifty spreads.
The top line tipS for a top-of-the-line bread recipe
Nothing triggers a joyous exchange at the table better than well-made bread. Last summer we introduced Bread My Way, and now it only seems fit to bring it back, but with our usual blak•label twist. These spreads, oils, mustards and rubs just make your life easier.
- TIP ONE: THE EUROCAST GRIDDLE IS AWESOME FOR BREAD. The bread uses our EuroCAST griddle. Not only is the bread amazing, but so is our griddle. It doesn't come along with many of the EuroCAST sets, so if you haven't gotten it yet, click here to get one.
- TIP TWO: GIVE AND GET EUROCAST TO SPREAD COOKING LOVE. And ... if you want a Starter Set, or have a family member or loved one who'd go bonkers if you gave them one, they are now half off! It's our first summer promotion, and it's only around for a while. Check out the pic below and click through to get it!
- TIP THREE: MAKE IT TASTY BUT DON'T WORK TOO HARD. From the simplest ingredients, pure joy. Abundant nourishment. And delightful choices.
Making bread on the eurocast griddle
Basic dough recipe
- 1 ½ tablespoons yeast
- 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
- 6 ½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough
Make the dough.
- In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Swirl the liquid with clean hands to help the yeast begin to dissolve.
- Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose.
- Cover, but not with an airtight lid.
- Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours.
- Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks.
- When ready to bake, bring back to room temperature, which may require 90 minutes of resting on the counter.
Shape and work the dough.
- Sprinkle some flour on the dough and cut off a grapefruit-sized piece with serrated knife.
- Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch it, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom.
- Put dough on pizza peel, or floured cutting board, sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes.
- Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate what you've done so far.
Prepare the dough for baking.
- Place a small jellyroll pan or edged cookie sheet on bottom of oven
- Place your EuroCAST griddle with handle removed on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat griddle at that temperature for 20 minutes.
- Dust dough with flour, slash top with serrated or very sharp knife three times.
- Slide onto stone.
- Pour one cup hot water into small jellyroll pan or edged cookie sheet and shut oven quickly to trap steam.
- Bake until well-browned, about 30 minutes.
- Cool completely.
If baking multiple loaves in succession, replenish water.
EUROCAST SPECIAL: STARTER SET, HALF OFF!
Starter Set promotion, limited time: Was $399, now only $199.99
Plus free shipping! Click on the image to take advantage of it.
GIVING THE BREAD A NEW TURN
Great bread becomes sublime when you choose new things to put on it, or even to put in it.
What to put on great bread?
Some of the best spreads for bread are right at hand, and some you can buy for the cupboard.
- Butter. Yes, butter. If you have great bread, especially if it's soft and warm right out of the oven, I love to spread it with high-quality, grass-fed organic butter. While too much butter of any kind can be against some doctors' orders, a little butter is amazing, if you choose well. (I won't mention the health benefits of conjugated linoleic acid.)
- Get your jam on. And, good jams. I make them at home. You can buy them at boutiques. Get them, try them, find out what you love. There is a reason the French love their confiture. It's a national secret weapon of pleasure.
- Classics. Great cheeses, dried fruit, and charcuterie (or the sort-of-Italian-equivalent, salumi, which is not to be confused with salami) ... these are absolutely amazing with great bread. I'm also in love with Portuguese sardines lately.
All these toppings are pretty good with average bread, too, but if you want people swooning and fainting in pleasure at your table, get to the store, get these eminently delicious delights at the ready, and deploy forks, knives and spoons set to scoop, slice, and spread.
And, speaking of spreads, we've got spreads from our friends and partners at blak•label. I mean, really. Just look.
Things to put in the bread
The basic bread recipe above is easy to pirouette into your own style or needs. Take it more savory or give it a hint of sweetness -- or even go darkly decadent -- to turn this bread into a pleasure you can welcome on any table, any time of day, for any meal -- or just by itself.
Whatever combination you choose, add 1 total cup to the grapefruit-sized ball of dough in the recipe. Stretch the dough out and put the filling in the center. Fold over the edges and place seam side down in the cornmeal.
A little sweet,
a little crunchy
Raisins plus nuts make the bread heartier and just a little sweeter. It works for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
1/2 cup raisins mixed with 1/2 cup pan-toasted nuts (pecans, walnuts, pignole).
Chocolate enters stage left
Take the nuts and raisins darker with some dark or semisweet chocolate.
1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1/2 cup pan-toasted nuts.
Or ... just the chocolate.