No-Knead Crusty Bread

So as it turns out, my passion for baking has come back to me in spades.

No-knead crusty white bread  from King Arthur Flour is an easy recipe to make with wonderful results.

6  1/2 -7 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
3 cups of warm water 
1 T salt
1 1/2 T active dry or instant yeast

 If you are scooping the flour out of the bag, use the 6 1/2 cups; if you are sprinkling your flour into the measuring cup, use the 7 1/2 cups.

 Sift flour into a large (8 quart or larger) bowl; add yeast on one side of the bowl, and add salt on the other (salt and yeast are not exactly friends). Heat the water to around 105°F (no hotter than 112° or you'll kill the yeast). 

Add the water and mix thoroughly until dough will form a ball. If you are mixing by hand, use a wooden spoon or silicone spatula (it helps if the spatula is all one piece). If you are using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment and remember to never mix any dough above speed 2. If you find that the dough is enveloping your paddle, it's ok to switch to the dough hook, but just make sure that all the little bits on the bottom are being thoroughly incorporated. 
Once thoroughly mixed, the dough will look like this:

 The dough will be sticky...

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (a shower cap works really nicely) and allow dough to rise in a warm, draft-free spot for 2 hours.The KAF instructions say let your dough rise at room temperature, but I let all my doughs rise in my oven with the heat off. I have an oven with a pilot light, so it's a nice, cozy spot for the dough to get big and puffy. If you have no pilot light, but your oven has a light, you can leave the light on and allow the dough to rise in the oven (which is turned OFF, but with the light ON). Another nie alternative is to turn your oven on to 100°F or 200°F for a few minutes and the turn it off. Stick the dough in there (remember to make sure your oven is off as the dough rises) and pull out in 2 hours. 

After rising the dough should look like this:

Put the dough in the refrigerator (covered) and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 14 days. You will know if the dough has gone rancid. Your nose is your best friend when it comes to cooking, baking and general food safety. Yes, I know there are some germs that you cannot smell (botulism, E. coli, salmonella and listeria for instance) but if the dough has gone bad, you will know, trust me.

When ready to bake, prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper, or if you are using a cloche, line the cloche (or dutch oven) with parchment. Parchment is your friend when baking bread. Grab a hunk of dough (you can comfortably divide this dough recipe into quarters, halves, or thirds) and form into a round, or a log. Plop the dough down on the parchment and sprinkle with flour. Allow dough to rise for an hour at room temperature (longer in winter, or if your kitchen tends to be cold). About 40 minutes into the rise (or 20 minutes before you're ready to bake), place an empty METAL pan on the bottom rack of your oven (it is important that this pan be metal; glass or ceramic may break) and preheat the oven to 450°F. About 5 minutes before you are ready to bake, cut a few 1/2" deep slashes into the top of your bread using a sharp knife. this will allow the bread to expand in a uniform way as it bakes. 
Heat one cup of water (I usually put the water in a glass measuring cup and nuke it on high for 1 minute). Place your loaf on the top rack of the oven and add the water to the metal pan. It will make a very nice swooshing, sizzling sound. Quickly close the oven door and bake the loaf for 25 to 45 minutes (depending on the size of your loaf....larger loaves need longer baking times) until the bread is a deep golden-brown color. 

sometimes, things get wacky and your bread comes out looking like a snake head...

 isn't it cute?

This bread bakes up so easily and the dough is easy to make as well. Whether you are a seasoned baker or a novice, this a great bread!
Just look at that crumb...


I found it! I found it! I found it!

After all this time! I found it....and worked on it! and made a mistake! oh the joy! well, not really joy at having made a mistake, but joy at having restarted a project long overdue for finishing.

In other news, I am trying desperately to keep my various political opinions to myself and also trying to help my students learn something...so far the latter was the more successful of the two attempts.

Why am I back to this blog again? well for two reasons: firstly, I'm sick and so have the time to sit in front of the computer on a saturday afternoon and secondly, I was looking at others' blogs with admiration and I remember my much neglected and audienceless one...

so here's what the project looks like so far...

and now I would like to know why the image is sort of sideways....oh whatever, at least it's there....


life is crazy

so I went looking for the pattern to the project I was knitting and alas, I could not find hide nor hair of it anywhere! sigh... I had known that thankfully, I had stored a copy of it in my computer, though sadly, I have no idea where I stopped in the pattern...This requires some backtracking to figure out exactly where I left off....
wish me luck...
perhaps, there will be pictures to follow


times they are a changin'

though you'd never know it as human history has repeated itself oh, since the beginning of time? and that raises another question: did time exist before people, or is it a human invention?
So yesterday was a great day, despite not having started out as such: work in the morning and then a fun-filled afternoon of housework and housework; I was thinking of going to finish viewing the rest of the Three Faiths exhibit at the library, but then decided that I really didn't feel like going out and dealing with people. Then I got a phone call to come out and play ^..^
I went to dinner with a new-found friend of mine and we had a grand time :-)

My quest for understanding the history of religion continues...
I was researching the Freemasons yesterday which was really a result from my serch on christian mysticism which, truth be told, was utterly fruitless; well, ok not UTTERLY, but damn close to it. I found it realy interesting that the Jews have the Kabbalah, the Muslims have Sufism and the Christians, well, they got a lot of nothing. I found a couple of interesting sites on Christian mysticism, but there's no "branch" or "sect" that specifically deals with mysticism per se. Though I did discover that Gnosticism come pretty close....this warrants further research...
The semester is alost finished! Both me and my students were kind of shocked to figure out that we only have three or four class meetings left! I assume they're all busy working on their presenations now...I asked them to let me know what they were planning on presenting, but haven't heard anything from anyone....perhaps this warrants an e.mail?
In other news, winter, I think, is upon us (oh the joy) and I have noticed that I only think to spend hours behind the computer screen in the cold weather....any puzzle? any wonder?
I think not...


monotheism sweeps the world

should I get my broom?
I went to see a fantastic exhibit yesterday at the NYPL (sometimes they can be so fantastic) on the three Abrahamic religions. I learned a lot! It reminded me that when I was an undergrad, a favorite prof of mine gave me a book on exegesis in the middle ages in Europe (of course). But I learned that many bibles and other religious book (psalters, hymnals, books of hours) had been written in Ethopian...who knew? I'm sure some people knew, though I was not one of them ^..^
Anyway, I plan to go back, as I had only enough patience to get through about the first half of the exhibit and then it got crowded in the library (I hate when that happens). But this little adventure of mine has inspired me to remember to take full advantage of hte city in which I live. I have Friday afternoons free, and well, I should really exploit that time and use it to my advantage; there is so much to do here! I haven't been to the Met in ages....I think it's high time for a return trip.
I also learned of the interesting importance of Gabriel in all three religions (makes me wonder if there isn't some sort of conspiracy going on here....) in Judaism, he apparently was a go-between (but not like Galeotto) for Moses when he received the commandments on Mount Sinai, not to mention the laws and other tuff that G-d told him to do; in Christianity, he told Mary of her virgin birth (pregnancy?) (the Annunciation); in Islam, he was again the go-between for Mohammed when he was talking to G-d. Gabriel's role as messenger in each religion is intriguing to me for several reasons: firstly, I have always had an attraction to the Gabriel, whatever his guise; secondly, when my brother was born, my father gave me the opportunity to give him a middle name....I chose Gabriel; thirdly, I have always been able to pick the guy out of a crowd (no kidding). This certainly requires further research. I wonder why each religion "chose" Gabriel as the messenger...perhaps the Jews did it first, and the other two needed to follow suit (kind of like what the Christians did with the Pagans...but whatever, I say nothing); or perhaps there really is something to it.....maybe I will meditate on this for a time and come back with an answer.
I also learned quite a bit about the various commentaries on each "book" which in the beginning (no pun intended) were scrolls until people (thank you Gutenberg) figured out that the book format is easier to carry. Actuall, it isn't thanks to Gutenberg, as many of the torahs, bibles, qur'ans, psalters, prayer books, etc. were hand-written all the way into the 20th Century in some cases. Judaism mandates that the Torah and the Megillah remain in scroll format when they are used for ritual purposes. In reality, I think it was the Protestants who encouraged education in that they were the first Cristian sect (though I'm not sure about the Orthodox) to require that participants be able to read, and to read the bible as a means of enlightenment.
I learned that sometime between 200 and 500 CE the Talmud was codified and the oral tradition was redacted; sometime between 70 and 120 CE the writing of the Synoptic Gospels took place and by 900 CE, the Qur'an was completely codified with vowels and diacritical marks...
Interesting that by 397 BCE the text of the Torah was finalized and being read (thank you Ezra the Scribe).
I also recently read a really interesting article about Cleopatra in the New Yorker....mental note: find a link to that. The New Yorker keeps trying to get me to renew my subscription and is luring me with the promise of free gifts...perhaps I will exploit their offer and get my free gift for renewing early.
You know what they say; the early bird gets the worm. My big question has always been: who wants worms?


politics, anyone?

so the political discussion never materialized....oh well, today is a new day and more discussions will happen! Interested to see what will be....
I planned presentations and the last few weeks of class with my Italian students yesterday; it was really nice to finally see them excited and motivated about something. Of course, I think it has more to do with extra credit than anything else....whatever, we'll see what happens. I'm kind of looking forward to seeing what they will produce. They were actually interested in doing more work than less work, which I thought was funny based on their past performances and past motivational levels.
Today is promising to be a beautiful day, though cold. Have I mentioned that I hate winter? speaking of which, I have a knitting project left over from last year that I really must take up again....if I could only find the damn pattern! Perhaps it's time to look for that....


some handguns, a couple of rifles and an organized militia

will I really start maintaining this blog again? don't I ask that question every time I visit here and the first answer is always yes! I will blog! and the reality turns out to be the exact opposite.
I had an interesting debate this morning over the second amendment to the US constitution (it's nice to speak with a native English speaker every now and again....keeps things in perspective for me) which perhaps will continue at some later date as we didn't have much time to actively debate anything besides the expression of opinions...
I find it intriguing....this idea of states' rights vs. federal rights and wonder why there should be discrepancies of such epic proportions...but more on that later....afer we reconvene and continue our debate (though that may not actually happen)
I also wonder why students find it necessary to refer to their profs as u in e.mails....this is completely baffling to me.
So now I must go eat an apple and find my way up into the bronx for my italian adventure....
more news later (with any luck that later will be sooner than later...)