Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan – Street Bakery, NYC
If you don’t happen to have a woodfired oven available, here is Edible Berkshires’ solution to producing that rustic taste at home—in fact, in your yard, if you have an outdoor grill. Start this bread the night before to bake for dinner the next day.
Prep time: 1½ hours plus 14–20 hours for rising.
3 cups bread flour or 2½ cups plus ½ cup whole-wheat flour
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoon salt
15⁄8 cup water at room temperature
Additional flour, cornmeal or bran for dusting
Large mixing bowl
2 flat-woven dish towels, not terry cloth
Sheet pan or cookie sheet
Heavy 6–8-quart container with lid—cast iron, enamel, ceramic or Pyrex, rated for oven cooking
In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest 12–18 hours at room temperature, around 70°. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles.
Remove dough to a lightly floured work surface and fold it over itself a couple times. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; allow to rest for 15 minutes.
Place a flat-weave cotton towel on a sheet pan or cookie sheet; generously coat towel with flour, corn meal or brain. Using enough flour to prevent dough from sticking to the work surface or your hands, gently and quickly form into a ball.
Put dough seam side down on prepared towel. Dust lightly with flour, cornmeal or bran and cover with other cotton towel; allow to rise 2 hours. When ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
At least a half hour before dough is ready, place covered container in oven or in a gas grill or any type of covered grill that has a lid. Heat to 450°–500°, depending on your oven or grill. When dough is ready, carefully remove hot container from oven, remove lid. Lift dough from sheet pan by sliding hand under towel; remove towel and turn dough into pot, seam side up. It may look uneven and messy, but don’t worry, it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover pot with lid and bake for 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake until loaf is beautifully brown, 15 to 20 minutes more. Cool on rack.
Edible Berkshires is a local, independently owned publication dedicated to covering the unique culinary culture of Western Massachusetts.