Aye, we are making full recipe this week, matey!
We are making this bread to celebrate Tu B'Shevat. As our fearless leader, Marie Wolf said, "we are nothing if not ecumenical in this group, and so it is not surprising that we mark Jewish Arbor Day." It's a day that is today's time is used to mark ecological awareness, trees are planted in celebration, and marked by eating things that grows on trees.
We got 6 inches of snow last night, so no tree planting this weekend. But we are going to eat this bread.
I love baking bread. It is right up there on my list of favorite things to make alongside cakes and pastries. Bread making is magical. You combine flour, salt, yeast, and water together. Mix it, knead it. Gluten formed. Place in a warm place and somehow it rise and double in size. And then you bake it and after it comes out of the oven it sings!!!
I bake Jim Lahey's No Knead Bread once a month for my husband. It's the same recipe every time and I have been making it for 3-4 years now. My version is slightly tweaked from the original recipe of 400 grams of bread flour. I use 320 grams of bread flour and 80 grams of whole wheat flour. I have all the steps down to a T and never gets bored making it. And every time it came out of the oven it made me so happy. The shape is always different, the cracks in different place. But I can always expect it to fill my kitchen with a wonderful smell and it sings every time.
This bread is pretty easy to make. It does require making biga 3 days before making the dough. But it doesn't take long to do. I made a couple of mistakes on this bread. I added the apricots to the dough with raisins and walnuts. And I rolled the dough the wrong side on the shaping part so my bread was higher and shorter.
I didn't do any altitude adjustment for this bread. Everything is feeling/behaving as described by the recipe. The dough was sticky/tacky. There's no leavening used for bread and I made no adjustment to the yeast or water.
The day before I made the biga, I told my husband that he is going to get a different bread this weekend. "Why?" he asked. "Because we are making a bread for the baking club," I responded. "It has walnuts, raisins, and apricots." I know he loves those ingredients. I didn't expect his next comment. I thought after 30-40 of the same bread, he would welcome a change. "But I like the bread you usually make." So then I promised him if he didn't like this bread, I would make him his usual bread.
After I finished photographing the baked bread, I gave the first several slices to him to try, who said "Excellent! Very good!".
Step by step photos:
Rose gave the instruction of making the biga 3 days before making the dough. And then giving the bread dough the second rise at room temperature before baking or letting it rise overnight. Since I have time, I choose to do the overnight second rise. So the biga is made 4 days before baking.
It took 8 hours on a cold day until it grew to this.
The day before baking, make the dough. First, we toast walnuts.
Then we let the biga swim. Momentarily.
Add flour and yeast.
Mix into shaggy dough.
Add raisins and walnuts.
I have a 1.75 liter container (instead of the 2 liter) in the recipe.
Pat the dough into a rectangle.
Back in the container for overnight rise.
Day of baking. Dough is not as big with second rise in the fridge.
Pat the dough to a rectangle of 7 x 5 inches. This is when I realized I added the apricots to the dough instead of waiting for this step.
Fold the top down like triangles.
Then roll the dough. Mine is only 8 inches long but really high because I fold it down the wrong side.
Place the do dough on baking sheet for rising.
It took 2 hours (again, cold day!) to get to this. It didn't grow as big as I thought it would but we have to leave in an hour to drop the car for maintenance and then to lunch. So I baked it.
For the cheese course. Serve with cheese, salami, jam, or eaten as is. This bread is good!
Click here for a full listing of all the recipes we are baking.