23 February 2011

Homemade Bread | Realizing my Pioneer Life

 No-Knead Bread (Recipe @ A Chow Life)

When I was young I had an obsession with the past.  I loved classical music; I loved the dresses and the bloomers. I loved the carriages and horses. A five year old who dreams of being a princess is not unusual, perhaps a bit odd for an eleven or twelve year old. The age to which I acted out this fantasy is a bit quirky, I admit; but I was unable to control my imagination and I had the supplies at my fingertips.
My parents owned a dry cleaning business in North Carolina from when I was nine to the summer I turned 13. This was of huge benefit to my “budding career” as an actress. Local theaters would drop off period costumes for cleaning, and abandon them at the back of the store. These became mine, and so my backyard became my stage and old gowns and antique hoop skirts were my main characters. I spent my afternoons prancing around the hills, channeling Scarlett O’Hara and Audrey Hepburn’s Sabrina. I was a mess. When I got too dizzy for spinning, and too hoarse from singing I would take to a life in the old west, making mud pies and grass cakes.

Not only were these wonderful memories that I now can’t imagine a life without, it was the development of an imagination, of creativity, and independent thought. This type of play is so scarce among American children today, but that’s another topic for another post. My point is- I was always pulled toward a simpler time. A time when we did things with our hands, where women wore feminine dresses, braved the outdoors, swooned over strong men, and made everything from scratch.

Last weekend I made homemade bread. Watching it rise and working it with my hands, feeling the weight of the dough and the powder up my nails reminded me of those simple times and for a moment I felt as if I was living it. As the smell of the bread wafted through the house, and my hard working husband walked in the door saying “wow, it smells like a bakery in here!” I knew I had gotten something right, and somehow, finally, realized my dream.

This is the bread recipe I made. It's the second bread recipe I have tried from Robin at A Chow Life. She makes cooking fun, and I have her to thank for teaching me that making my own bread is not only possible, but a skill I can perfect with practice.

No Knead (kind of) Bread

2 cups bread flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 & 1/2 tsp salt
1 package quick rise yeast
1 & 1/2 cup warm water
1 tblsp. cornmeal
1/2 tblsp. olive oil

Mix the flour, salt, yeast, and water in a large bowl. Dough will appear kind of shaggy when mixed. Cover bowl with plastic wrap tightly. Place in a warm place for 4 hours. Near the end of 4 hours, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

After 4 hours, knead the bread for 1 minute with flour so that it’s not too sticky and form it into a ball. Pour the olive oil into the bottom of your dutch oven. Pour cornmeal over the oil and coat the bottom of the dutch oven. Place dough in center. Place lid on the oven and cook covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and cook until golden 15-20 minutes. Cool on a rack.


  1. Seriously the BEST bread ever! When will you make this for me again? :) Love you.

  2. Hey Hannah! Silly question- what is the difference between bread flour and other flours? Can I just use all purpose flour or whole wheat flour? :) I'm a newbie at this bread baking thing!

  3. Yay! Great job!! Looks really good and the form is great - mine free-form breads always turn out...weird.

  4. Looks so yummy! I second Emily's question, and ask another silly newbie question: dutch oven? Whats the difference between that and other pots/pans? Is there a way to do this without a dutch oven?

  5. Bread flour is different from other flours (like all-purpose or self-rising) in that it's heavier..more dense, and less processed. Best for bread baking.

    A dutch oven is a bigger pot...like one you would make a huge batch of soup in or something. http://dutchovencookwarereviews.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Calphalon-Dutch-Oven.jpg