Making bread was always a frustration for me, until this last year. My Mother was an excellent bread maker. I remember going home on vacation, and the minute I walked in the front door the aroma of fresh bread would hit me. And when I got to the kitchen, I would find the kitchen table hidden beneath loaves of fresh bread, dinner rolls, and cinnamon rolls. There would be 8-10 loaves of bread on the table.
Whenever Marlys’s Step Mother Margaret visited us, she would start making dough, and keep it in the refrigerator. Then, each evening she would take out some of it, and form a pan of dinner rolls. She also would at times make cinnamon rolls. She knew how to slow the rise by using refrigeration. But even more important, both of these women knew how to knead the dough and could determine the amount of flour to add to make the dough. I felt that making bread was a skill that could only be learned with much mentoring by someone who already had the skill, and I didn’t seem to have the time to acquire that skill.
Mom had one bread recipe that I really liked, and so I asked her for it and tried to make it; it was a failure! My notes from that attempt say that the mixture seemed dry, and I didn’t get the rise I thought I should; maybe I added too much flour.
A few years ago, recipes for No-Knead bread became popular, and a recipe by Leslie Cole, an Oregonian reporter, was printed in the Oregonian newspaper. I thought I had found the answer to my lack of skill in making yeast breads! So I tried the recipe. It is a crusty bread, with a rustic texture. It is the type of bread you would be served in a restaurant before the meal, with butter or maybe olive oil and salt for dipping. It is a good crunchy bread to enjoy with a meal. I would make it again just for these qualities.
Here is the pointer to Leslie Cole’s recipe for No-Knead bread. She said in the original newspaper article that it was adapted from Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City. For copyright reasons, I can not duplicate the recipe here, but must give you pointers to the publication of the recipes.
So, we continued to buy our bread for toast and sandwiches rather than try to make it.
Then, last year I learned about the “dough hook” for the stand-mixer. It has opened the world of flavored yeast breads for me. And I will be introducing those recipes to you. But for now, I want you to see the simple, no-knead bread. I use Leslie Cole’s recipe. I find it messy in that the dough seems especially moist and sticky; it might need more flour than indicated in the recipe. So, when working with the dough, I would not be afraid to use flour quite heavily to get the dough to hold together and not stick to fingers or work surface.
If you, too, have trouble kneading yeast breads, then try the no-knead style. And maybe as Leslie suggests, add herbs or olives to suit your own taste.