The Best Bread I’ve Ever Made

This was going to be a tale of two breads, made by two strikingly different methods, but after tasting the results, there’s really only one bread to talk about. This one.

I can’t express my excitement about this bread adequately. All the bread I’ve ever made by hand was dense and heavy, with a crunchy crust that almost got in the way. This, on the other hand, has a nice open crumb, an elastic texture, and a crisp, crackly crust. The first one was with all white flour (actually “Gold-n-wheat” flour, which has germ but no bran or some such intermediary between white and whole wheat flour). The second loaf had some whole wheat and rye flour, plus a splash of olive oil. Freakin’ amazing, is all I can say.

Another neat aspect of this is that it makes use of some other food prep gear I procured in recent months: the muslin I originally got for cheesemaking, and the cast iron pot I got for making stew…that’s actually too small to cook much stew.

And did I mention the part where this takes about three minutes of actual work?

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16 Comments

  1. r8chel said,

    January 7, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    I’m glad your bread turned out better than MY sad attempt at making rye bread yesterday! 🙂

  2. Paul said,

    January 8, 2008 at 8:02 am

    Would you post your recipe. The bread looks awesome!!

  3. farm mom said,

    January 8, 2008 at 8:48 am

    I’m with Paul, I’d love the recipe, I’m working on making bread this month too.

  4. espringf said,

    January 8, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Oh, bother! I got so wrapped up in “holy cats, this is tasty!” that I forgot the recipe. So, you get three things:
    The recipe I used. I did one version with 100% “Golden wheat” and one with 2c. white and 1/2 c. each whole wheat and rye and 2Tbl olive oil (which was the tastiest).
    The NY Times recipe this is based on
    A fantastic explanation of why this recipe works so well

  5. Mia said,

    January 8, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    This looks super! I’m looking forward to trying it.

  6. Starr said,

    January 8, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    That looks and sounds amazing! Congrats!

  7. espringf said,

    January 8, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    What else rocks about this bread? When made with organic flour, it costs $1. One. Dollar.
    *shuts up and eats more bread*

  8. Ken said,

    January 8, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    oh, my that sounds (and looks) amazing! must try this at home =)

  9. onestraw said,

    January 9, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    Emily,

    What size is your d.oven? I looked at a 5qt today and it didn’t look big enough. We bake alot of bread in the Rob/Mia household- and yours looks incredible!
    -Rob

  10. espringf said,

    January 10, 2008 at 9:57 am

    Rob-

    I’m not sure how many quarts…it’s maybe 14″ wide and 6″ deep, and the lid is very shallowly domed. I could probably go with a smaller baking dish; in fact, I’m looking for one that’s oblong or oval to make the bread slices a little closer to round instead of biscotti-shaped. Ken (above) is going to experiment with a ceramic baking dish to see if that will work – that would offer a lot more variety of shapes at a much lower cost.

    Emily

  11. El said,

    January 11, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    Hey Emily,

    Had to pipe up here about the pots, and the no-knead method! I have been making this bread, maybe 3 loaves a week, for about a year with lots of experimentation. I also hate white flour of any kind…I usually use a mix of whole wheat and spelt. I now make it with my sourdough starter. I have tried all manner of pots to cook it in (enameled cast iron, regular cast iron dutch oven, ceramic covered pot, stainless steel covered pot) and I keep coming back to using my stainless steel one out of sheer laziness, as it’s the easiest to clean. The Le Creuset pan (the enameled one) has a handle that won’t take a 500* oven (though mine did with no problems, and I can remove it); the regular cast iron dutch oven’s lid kept rusting because of the steam, the ceramic covered pot did fine but it’s in an odd part of the kitchen…and on and on. You know what I do now, though? I put it in a simple loaf pan! (At punchdown, I add enough flour that it isn’t super-sticky, then fold it into a loaf, then put it into a greased loaf pan to rise for the last 2 hours.) The crust does not get as crispy, but I can make decent sandwiches out of it.

    I think what’s great is that this recipe has gotten a lot more people baking bread. Nothing wrong with that! And that people (like me, say) keep experimenting with the method shows how great it is.

    Glad you found my site, glad I found yours!

    –El

  12. espringf said,

    January 11, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    El-

    Thanks for the lowdown! A loaf pan was going to be one of the next things I tried. I love this bread, but it isn’t quite right for sandwiches, so a less-crispy crust might be just right.

    Emily

  13. Christy O said,

    January 19, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    I bake it right on my preheated pizza stone. Makes it more like an artisan bread.

  14. onestraw said,

    January 21, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Officially inspired- your picks are haunting me and I have to make my own. Bought an enamel dutch oven from Lodge today and the oven is preheating. This from a guy who makes bread every week already from October through May.

    I thought I had totally screwed it up since the dough was so gooey, but watching this video helped reassure me. Plus the freedom with which the baker tells the WORLD how to make better bread than he sells is incredibly refreshing. This guy loves bread!

    • Emily said,

      November 22, 2016 at 2:35 pm

      This video from my colleague Heiko is also great. Love the time lapse, and the way you can see how the texture of teh dough changes over its long rise. https://vimeo.com/74097275

  15. Anonymous said,

    March 13, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    I find the best baker is two stoneware loaf pans one upside down on the other. It always turns out perfect.


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