Last weekend we had our belated “Beach Babes and their Boys” Valentine Dinner. This has been a tradition for my Beach Babe group for years!
It is the one time of year we let our husbands in on some of our fun!
Shauna and Merrill are always our delightful hosts for the evening.
As usual, the table was beautiful!
And the food was delicious!
We started out with these amazing grilled artichokes! Not only were they delicious they were beautiful too!
The main course was a medley of grilled vegetables – parsnips, sweet potatoes and asparagus and grilled chicken with an orange sauce. As usual Merrill’s presentation was beautiful!
Everything was delicious but my favorite part of the meal was the amazing Artisan style bread Shauna made!
It has a beautiful crispy crust and is moist and chewy on the inside – perfect! I loved it so much I have made it twice since the party last week!
The recipe for this bread originally came from Sullivan Street Bakery and was featured in the New York Times by food writer Mark Bittman in 2006. I remember seeing it in the paper and all over the internet at the time but never gave it a try.
The bread is incredibly easy to make because there is no kneading – all it requires is a little planning and time -about 12 -18 hours to be exact!
After mixing it up your dough will be VERY sticky!
I mixed up the dough the night before and let it rise all night and through half of the next day. Small, bubbles will form on the surface. I got distracted by a phone call and forgot to take of a picture of it before I turned it out onto the floured surface.
After just a few turns on the floured surface it is covered with plastic wrap and left to rest for about 15 minutes.
Then transfer it to a well floured towel and cover with another towel and let it rise for 2-3 more hours, until doubled in size.
After rising you transfer it to the hot, 3 to 6 qt. heavy covered pot (see directions below) and bake for 30 minutes covered and 15 minutes uncovered.
Baking the bread covered allows the steam to create a bread that is chewy yet has an amazing artisian style crust.
If you have never attempted yeast bread before this is the recipe to try. I really think it is pretty much no fail! And yes – it is only 1/4 tsp. of yeast! That is not a typo. It does use the rapid rise yeast although Smitten Kitchen says you can substitute 1/3 tsp. of regular yeast.
Yields one 1 1/2 pound loaf
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon rapid rise, instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.
1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450°. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.