This recipe is relatively simple, but you do need about 24 hours to complete the process, so you’ll have to plan ahead for this one. You really don’t do any kneading, so this is unlike any other bread making method. You just throw the ingredients together, let it do its thing, pull it out of the bowl, let it reset, then bake it. So if you can plan ahead 24 hours, you can make this bread. And the best part is that is tastes amazing. It has a nice thick, chewy crust, and a good density to the bread.
You will need a baking dish with a lid; I used a Romertopf clay baker, which I soaked in water before using. I have also used a le Creuset baker.
What you need:
3 cups white flour
1 & 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoons yeast (I used Fleischmann’s active dry yeast, which I store in my fridge)
1 & 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup wheat bran
What you do:
1. Combine the flour, salt and yeast in a bowl. Add the water and mix; add more water until you have a wet, sticky dough.
2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a plate and let sit at room temperature and out of direct sunlight for 12-18 hours. The dough should be about double in size and dotted with bubbles. I put mine on top of the fridge because it was warm there. When I lived in a place that was cold it always took the full 18 hours or even more. This slow fermentation is what gives the bread its flavour.
3. Lay a cotton or linen tea towel (not terry cloth unless you want cotton in your bread) on a cutting board or on your counter and sprinkle it with some wheat bran, then scrape the dough onto the towel. Tuck the edges of the dough under to make it round. Sprinkle it with wheat bran, then lightly pull the edges of the towel over the dough. If your towel isn’t big enough just spread another towel over the top and tuck it in lightly. Let this sit for 1-2 hours, or until it has doubled in volume.
4. Preheat the oven to 475 F and place your baking pot on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Let the pot heat up, and when the oven has reached 475 F, remove the pot from the oven and carefully tip the dough into the pot. Put the cover on the pot and bake for 30 minutes. The bread is forming a nice thick crust.
5. Remove the lid from the pot and continue to bake for 15-30 minutes. The bread should be a deep brown when it is done. Remove it from the oven, and lift the bread out of the pot carefully and place it on a rack to cool. Let the loaf cool before cutting.
I made an herb butter to go with mine. I just softened some butter, then added a little salt, some dried garlic, and some chopped chives.