I was very excited when my Amazon order came in last week, having been waiting through two backorders with great anticipation for My Daily Bread ever since flipping through it in an overpriced bookstore and seeing a walnut bread with a snappable crust like nothing else. That is, until I had the book in my hands and learned that every recipe called for a clay baking pot, lidded cast iron skillet, or le Creuset style earthenware dish. The trick to that cracked crust, apparently, was in the pot.
Such cookware has been on my kitchen wish list for a long while, but it was not the time to cross any of them off of it (le Creusets, as I am sure you know, are worth their weight in gold as the saying goes). But I had to have that bread, and I tortured myself for the next few days perusing cooking stores and lifting many a heavy clay pot. Just when I was beginning to think I would not have the bread of my dreams until next April (when i would again be comfortably employed), I found a much less expensive version by Wolfgang Puck, just as heavy, but less than a third the price. I could smell the yeast already.
Now I did not jump right into the walnut loaf (though I have a shwonkity-shwonk of them, more on that later), deciding to start with something a little simpler, read: no add ins. Settling on a ciabatta I prepped the dough last night, giving it its full eighteen hours rising time. Then a second rise of one hour, then onto a hot pizza stone with my knock-off creuset as a lid, into the oven and more pensive waiting for bread. At least this time, the smells were real. And it turned out lovely, see?!
It was so lovely, in fact, that I decided to do another. Well, really, I decided that this morning, preparing a rye dough before heading to school (bread this way is not exactly a spur-of-the-moment-notion). Technically I could have let it rise another six hours (though that would have had it ready for the second rise at 2 am, so perhaps I am better off...), but it looked ready, bubbly and stretched on top, and I let excitement get the better of me. Another hour and half rising, and now it is in the oven. It is nearly midnight. I have school tomorrow and will be up in six hours. And the bread still has and hour to go. But it smells so damn good. I will sleep, eventually, very well.