I’ve never made a loaf of homemade bread in my life. IN MY LIFE. The mere mention of starters and kneading and rolling and rising and etc. is enough to send me into a cold sweat. It’s just always seemed like a whole lot of trouble considering that I can pick up a loaf at the store and never even have to turn on my oven, thank you very much.
Lately, however, I’ve had a little bit of a change of heart. For the last few months I’ve been trying to eliminate “convenience” foods from our meals – with the exception of the occasional box of Cheez-Its, DON’T YOU JUDGE ME – and I’ve been looking for ways to make things I would ordinarily buy. That’s why I can now make a pretty decent homemade pizza crust, and it’s why my favorite new smell in the world is a pot of black beans simmering on the stove (oh, cumin – you do marvelous work).
Last week I picked up the May issue of Food Network Magazine (I LOVE IT), and I noticed a recipe for No-Knead Peasant Bread. I read the directions and thought it sounded do-able, but I wondered if it was way more complicated than the recipe indicated. After a little research, though, I discovered that Jaden at Steamy Kitchen has a similar recipe on her site, and for me that was confirmation that I needed to try it.
All that to say: I finally worked up the nerve to make my first loaf of homemade bread. And I used Jaden’s recipe, just FYI.
Sunday afternoon I mixed the dough together, covered it and let it sit tight for 24 hours. Monday afternoon I floured the dough, turned under the edges, then wrapped it in a floured dishtowel and put it back in the bowl. Two hours later I flipped the dough into a Dutch oven (SO BRILLIANT, THAT METHOD), followed the instructions, and 45 minutes later my house smelled like heaven.
It tasted better than anything ever should. Alex just ate buttered bread for supper, in fact. Couldn’t be bothered with anything else.
But the grown-ups kicked the bread up a notch, oh yes we did.
Sunday night I made a batch oven-dried tomatoes and stored them in the refrigerator. These tomatoes are DIVINE and have so much flavor – which is a bit of a wonder considering the state of tomatoes in April. I also made a big pot of homemade black beans (2 cups soaked beans, sauteed onion and garlic, salt, cumin, chili powder and red pepper brought to a boil in 6 cups of water, then simmered for 2 1/2-3 hours – with about half a teaspoon of red wine vinegar added after they’re done).
Once the bread was ready Monday night, I made a little Feta yogurt sauce (1 cup plain nonfat yogurt, 1/2 container crumbled Feta, 1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon fresh). David and I spread some yogurt sauce on our homemade bread, then topped it with black beans and oven-dried tomatoes.
OH MY WORD THERE ARE NO WORDS.
(And please excuse the shadow of my phone in the picture.)
(Remember, I am a reliably dreadful photographer.)
We absolutely loved the combo of the bread with the other stuff. It was fresh and tasty and crunchy and hearty. We decided to call it International Bruschetta (a little Greek, a little Italian, a little Mexican) – except that it wasn’t really bruschetta because I didn’t toast the bread, but that is merely a technicality. And you could do all sorts of toppings: a favorite cheese, roasted eggplant, roasted garlic, shredded parmesan on top of pesto sauce, a Caprese salad on top of the bread – I could go on and on and on. There was actually a walnut-pepper spread in the magazine that looked delicious, not to mention glazed figs – but I think my people would revolt if I served them either of those options.
Regardless, I still can’t get over how easy it was to make bread in a Dutch oven. I HAD NO IDEA THIS WAS POSSIBLE. I think my life is changed forever. In fact, I think this is going to be the spring of eating Homemade Bread With Some Stuff On Top Of It for supper.
And I can’t wait.