I bake fresh bread once or twice a week. At first, the process of producing a loaf of fresh baked bread sounded absolutely intimidating. However, I found a great, easy-to-make recipe from Jim Lahey at Sullivan Street Bakery.
Here, I will offer you my experience with the process and you get to see the final results! You can bake this bread the day before Christmas but just keep in mind you need to start prepping two days in advance. While the dough is rising you can go about your business of other holiday cooking and prep. This recipe doesn’t take a lot of time which is great for your busy Christmas kitchen.
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The dough sits quietly in a corner of your kitchen, rising and getting ready for its stint in the oven. As you follow the recipe the dough will be very sticky and it should be that way. Getting a dough scraper like this one is a great idea and makes the work of lifting the dough after its initial rise will be made much easier.
You can let the dough rise from twelve to sixteen hours while in a large bowl covered with plastic wrap. I find it’s easier to set a timer or an alarm for that initial rise. The biggest investment in this recipe is time for the dough to rise but again you can go about other holiday cooking while that is taking place.
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Tip: Using plenty of flour on your working surface keeps the dough from sticking.
The second rise is about two-hours and for the last half-hour of that process, you can heat up the cast iron or other recommended oven vessel for the baking. Remember, you are working at a high temperature so keep heavy-duty oven mitts handy! Follow the instructions for the baking process and soon you will be rewarded with fresh-baked bread. Jim describes the bread as “singing” and it certainly does while cooling down…Listen!
The final result is fresh-baked bread for Christmas! I keep my bread in a brown paper bag in the kitchen. Incidentally, the bread makes a delicious bread and butter snack and awesome toast!
Thanks Jim Lahey for the gift of easy-to-make bread!