Back 1700s, bread made up an astounding 60- 85% of people’s daily food intake in New France. And brown bread, with its flakes of bran, was considered bad for your health!
In honour of the hard-working settlers in New France, here is my favourite bread recipe. It’s based on a bread by Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery in New York.
This bread is amazing. Anyone can make it. It requires no skill, no kneading, and no special ingredients. It also takes very little effort — just time, about 15-20 hours to be exact. But most of that time is just waiting for the long, slow fermentation of the dough to take place, which results in the most perfect loaf.
Crusty No-Knead Bread
Yield: One large loaf
- 3 cups flour (400 grams)
- ½ teaspoon instant yeast (3 grams)
- 1¼ teaspoons salt (8 grams)
- 1 ½ cups cool water (300 grams)
- Cornmeal and sesame seeds as needed
In a large bowl, stir flour, yeast, and salt together. Add the water, and stir until you have a wet, shaggy dough, about 30-45 seconds. Cover bowl and let rise at least 12 hours at room temperature. The dough is ready when the surface is bubbly and has doubled in size.
Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it. Don’t be alarmed if the dough is super runny. It will firm up. Sprinkle dough with a little flour and fold it over on itself once or twice.
Return the dough to the bowl, cover, and let rise another 2 hours. The dough is ready when it has doubled in size again.
A half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees and put a heavy pot with the lid on inside the oven. (Cast iron or enamel pots work best, but the high heat will ruin the look of your enamel pot over time).
Carefully remove pot after 30 minutes, cover the bottom of the pot in a layer of cornmeal (so the bread doesn’t stick), then pour the dough into the pot and finally – sprinkle the top of the dough with sesame seeds.
Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake another 20-30 minutes, until loaf is dark, golden brown. Cool on a rack, then cut a huge slice, slather it with homemade apple butter, maple syrup or strawberry jam, and be transported straight to heaven.