These few days of not being able to belly up at my favorite watering hole or meet friends at our usual pizzeria have felt like an eternity. Thankfully many of our go-to spots offer takeout and delivery options, giving us a delicious taste of normalcy during this uncertain time.
And I strongly encourage us all to support our local restaurants and each other while we navigate through the coronavirus outbreak. However, I know ordering out is not a feasible option for every day of the week.
Putting together meals with whatever we can find from our apocalyptic grocery shelves can be challenging, too. But with pantry staples, you can make the necessities you need like bread.
Don’t roll your eyes or tell me you can’t bake. My dog could make this.
Flour, yeast, salt and water are mixed in a bowl and set to rest 8-24 hours. It’s then shaped into a ball and placed in a pot with a lid and baked. That’s it. No machine needed. No kneading involved.
And the end result will blow you away. It’s crusty, fluffy and gorgeously golden. You just made the easiest loaf of artisan bread. Look at you! Who would’ve thought you’d emerge from quarantine as a baker?
Lathered in butter, dipped in soup or topped with bruschetta, this bread is tasty and beyond easy to make. I make it the night before and pop it in the oven right before dinner.
You can add flavor by mixing in your favorite herbs, seasonings, cheese, dried fruits or nuts. Just stir them in before adding the water.
No-Knead Crusty Artisan Bread
Adapted from thecomfortofcooking.com
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dry yeast (active or instant)
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon cornmeal
Special cookware needed: Large Dutch oven or any oven-safe pot with lid.
Combine the flour, salt and yeast in large bowl. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the water until the mixture forms a shaggy but cohesive dough (be sure not to overwork the dough).
Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 8-24 hours. The dough will rise and bubble up. When ready to bake, place your Dutch oven or pot uncovered into the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.
While that’s heating, turn the dough onto a floured surface, and, with lightly floured hands, form the dough into a ball. Sprinkle cornmeal on a piece of parchment paper that’s slightly bigger than the dough ball, and transfer the dough onto it. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 30 minutes.
When the dough is done resting, carefully remove the Dutch oven or pot from the oven. Lift the parchment paper with the dough ball on it and drop it into the hot pot, parchment paper and all.
Cover with the lid, return the pot to the oven and bake for 30 minutes covered.
Carefully remove the lid and bake for 7-15 minutes more until golden brown and crusty.
Carefully remove the bread, let it cool a bit, then slice it and serve it warm.
Audrey Alfaro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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