Bread Like Grandma Used To Bake

3 years ago
So, the other day, I was flipping through catalogs as a way to be physically present, but not actually actively engaged in something Ben was talking to me about. 

It probably had something to do with his 'day' or what his dreams were. Can the inane conversations ever end?

Anywho, as he was seeking input from me as to what I felt our retirement plans should look like, I stumbled across a picture of a interesting unglazed ceramic thingy that said delicious bread could be baked in it.

OMG! I'm all in.

But, Ben is still talking.

I say,

'Yes. That sounds right.'

'Do you really think so?'

'Okay, if you believe that's wise.'

This keeps him talking and thinking and writing on a legal pad, with only the slightest prompting. 

I, being the professional wife that I am, can both read the small print describing the wonderful ways to bake a loaf and occasionally, at just the right moment, either make direct eye contact, or mumble a 'Ah ha' in Ben's direction.

He, of course, is oblivious, which is as commonplace as the Earth remaining in orbit.

As the conversation takes a turn, whereby Ben now needs to access his briefcase Oh Gawd and leaves the room, I change the television station to FoxNews and turn up the volume. This should act as the catalyst for total immersion within seconds.

Upon re-entry, am now plating our supper, responding to an invitation with a lick-of-a-stamp, texting our broker after having seen the market close, sorting the mail, mentally tallying the necessary documents for a trip abroad, writing-out appointment reminders on little post-it notes (for him), sorting the laundry, and taking a call from one of the kids.

And I have hit 'buy'. 

So, a few days later, when this all plays about again, and he asks me if I've heard a word he's said, and I say 'of course', as he becomes engrossed in the latest political debacle, mumbling what 'he'd do' and pacing the kitchen around me, and I'm one step ahead of him on all things 'us', he's confident that the world is still round because of his effort, and I go back to baking bread and making sure...

he and the Earth 
are doing what they should be.
Bread Cloche  from Williams Sonoma

It works!!!

I brushed the surface with an egg wash, 
and then sprinkled with some rock salt and herbs de'provence


1 package active dry yeast

1 tsp. sugar

1/4 cup hot tap water
1-1/2 cups water

5 cups all purpose flour

1 Tbs. salt

Cornmeal for sprinkling

Egg Wash

In a small bowl, pour 1/4 cup hot tap water. Add the sugar and yeast. Whip with a small whisk and cover with plastic wrap. Let it stand until bubbly- about 10 minutes.

In a bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a dough hook, add the flour and salt, give it a stir with a clean whisk, and then add in 1-1/2 cups water, with the mixer on low.

Add the fermented yeast liquid and continue to blend in the mixer.

Add more flour, or water, if needed, to form the dough into a ball that is holding together.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until soft and elastic. About 4-6 movements.

Spray the inside of a clean bowl with non-stick cooking spray and but the dough in it.

Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm place to double in size. About an hour.

Punch down the dough and return it to a floured surface. Knead the dough a few times and let rest for 5 minutes- then form into a ball.

Sprinkle the base of the bread cloche with cornmeal.

Place the dough ball in the center, and cover with the bread cloche lid.

Place the entire cloche in a warm place to rise. About another hour.

Pre-heat your oven to 450.

Take the lid off of the bread cloche and with a sharp knife (or scissors) cut several shallow slashes across the top of the risen bread loaf. *Don't go too deep or the puncture will open the dough and it will loose some of it's gas (and in this case- gas is good).

*At this point, you can, if you want, wash the surface with an egg wash, and sprinkle with rock salt, or anything else you'd like to add for flavor. 

Put the cloche lid back on the base and place in the HOT oven. Bake for 15 minutes.

WITHOUT taking the cloche out of the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees and continue baking for 40 minutes.

NOW take the lid off, and finish baking for 10 minutes (this last step will golden-up the surface).

Transfer to a wire rack. 

You can thank me later.



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