Recipe 1.31.19

Laura Donnelly

Hearth Bread
    This recipe is from King Arthur Flour. My loaves came out rather squat, but delicious nonetheless.
    Makes two loaves.

    1 packet active dry yeast or 2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
    1 Tbsp. sugar
    1 Tbsp. salt
    2 cups lukewarm water, not over 110 degrees
    5 1/2 to 6 cups King Arthur all purpose unbleached flour
    Cornmeal or semolina for sprinkling on the pan.
    Butter or oil to grease bowl

    Mix all of the ingredients together, using the smaller amount of flour. Mix thoroughly until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, adding more flour if necessary. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface to knead.
    To knead, fold the far edge of the dough back over onto itself towards you. Press into the dough with the heels of your hands and push away. After each push, rotate the dough 90 degrees. Repeat this process in a rhythmic rocking motion for five minutes, sprinkling only enough flour on your kneading surface to prevent sticking. Let the dough rest while you scrape out and grease the mixing bowl. Knead the dough again for two to three minutes. Alternatively, you can mix the dough in a standing mixer with a bread dough hook, for about seven to nine minutes.
    Return the dough to the bowl and turn it over once to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap or a dish towel and place in a warm, draft-free place (a turned off gas oven works well) until the dough doubles in bulk, about one to two hours.
    Gently deflate the dough, cut it in half, and shape into two oval Italian, or longer, thinner, French-style loaves. Place loaves on a baking sheet generously sprinkled with cornmeal or semolina. Let loaves rise, gently covered in greased plastic wrap, for about 45 minutes, until they’re noticeably puffy. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 425.
    Lightly slash the tops of the loaves three or more times diagonally and brush or spray them generously with lukewarm water. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven.
    Bake bread for 25 to 35 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and sounds hollow to the touch. Remove the loaves from the oven, take them off the pan, and return them to the oven, placing them right on the rack. Turn the oven off and crack the door open several inches. Let the loaves cool in the cooling oven, this will make them extra crusty.
    Store completely cool bread in a paper bag at room temperature for a couple of days. For longer storage, wrap well and freeze.

Irish Soda Bread
    This recipe for Irish soda bread is from Cathal Armstrong’s “My Irish Table.” This will be a very wet dough, like a biscuit dough.
    Makes one one-pound loaf.

    4 cups all purpose flour
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1 tsp. kosher salt
    1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter, diced, plus more for serving
    2 1/4 cups buttermilk

    Preheat oven to 400.
    Lightly dust a baking sheet with flour. In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Using your fingertips, rub the butter pieces into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, pour in the buttermilk, and work it into the dough with your hands just until it is incorporated. Do not overmix the dough.
    To bake the bread, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a round loaf about eight inches in diameter. Place it on the baking sheet and, using a sharp knife, cut a half-inch-deep cross into its top. Bake for one hour until well browned.
    Transfer the bread to a wire rack and let it rest for at least 20 minutes before serving with lots of butter.