Monday, April 27, 2009
Manna from Heaven
Certain things come to mind when I picture a Thanksgiving spread, the most obvious being the bird, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. I look forward to eating each and every one of those traditional dishes with absolute fervor but I kid you not, the unexpected star of last Thanksgiving dinner was a loaf of bread.
Our friend Talley made Jim Lahey's celebrated No-Knead Bread that was published in the New York Times a few years back. The one that requires a quick mix of flour, water and yeast followed by a long, uninterrupted rest of about 18 hours. I was intrigued when he explained the process (this is the same guy who cures his own bacon and steeps homemade limoncello for 90 days). And the taste! It had a perfectly chewy, crispy crust surrounding an airy, delicate middle. My beautiful plate of turkey, squash and dressing took a back seat while I buttered and ate one, two, three, oh god knows how many slices of bread. It was that good.
Needless to say, we've been making it ever since. The classic version with a cornmeal crust is a trusted standby but I've been experimenting (I've got a loaf coated with sesame salt in the oven this very moment). I'm not exactly an accomplished baker but this no-fuss recipe turns out glorious, miraculous bread every single time.