Roasted Garlic & Parmesan No-Knead Bread
Finding chemistry and compatibility with another person is a tricky thing to be sure and as many of us know, there is no such thing as a perfect match. Frankly, I cringe when I hear talk of long lists of qualities someone is seeking in a mate. No doubt, we all have items or issues that are major dealbreakers but I’ve found compatibility and the symptoms of love to be much simpler than complicated ratings games or laundry lists of pros and flaws.
My list, for better or worse, has always been pretty short. The ability to make me laugh, love for family, ambition and of course, attraction but, there was one thing that encompassed all the others and told me, this is it. So, what served as a sign that I was ready for a lifelong partnership?
My desire to give him the last piece of pie.
Yep, that was it. And it didn’t stop at pie, it’s the leftovers from a gorgeous Saturday night dinner, the last bite of my favorite cookie, or that final slice of homemade bread. I often sit at work, making plans for those last little bits, like using that bread to sop up the remaining drops of broth and rosemary in a bowl of soup. But then I arrive home to find only the tell-tale signs of stray crumbs littering the countertop and a crumpled bag in the garbage.
I am undoubtedly disappointed and even at times, momentarily angry. Anger was the case with the bread pictured this week. I was saving half the loaf for blog photos as I did not get a chance to snap the finished product before nightfall on Sunday. Though I asked Zach to hold off on eating that last half, I arrived home on Monday afternoon to a hacked up disk and a meek, “Sorry…” echoing from the basement. Ultimately, the anger subsided and I made do with a hasty Plan B.
My joy for cooking and baking stems not from eating it all alone, but from the happiness it can bring to others. It’s an expression of love in a humble slice of bread, studded with golden garlic cloves. And for me, there’s no better form of love in return, than an empty plate and a few stray crumbs.
It’s a good thing Zach is always hungry.
Roasted Garlic & Parmesan N0-Knead Bread
Adapted from Jim Lahey via The New York Times
This recipe is an adaptation of Jim Lahey’s infamous No-Knead bread method first published in The New York Times a few years ago. For those unfamiliar, this bread is virtually labor-free but does require a day or more to proof. I used a combination of mashed roast garlic and whole garlic cloves as I like the flavor to permeate throughout but also the zing from the whole cloves. This basic bread technique is wonderful for bread baking newbies and can be used as a blank canvas for an endless variety of add-ins.
1 head roasted garlic*
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 tsp yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbs water
1. Take half of the roasted garlic cloves and mash gently in a small bowl. Leave the remaining roasted cloves intact.
2. Combine the flour, yeast, salt, parmesan in a large bowl. Add the mashed garlic and mix to distribute then fold in the whole cloves gently.
3. Add the water and stir until blended. Tip, I find using my hand to mix the dough, though messy, is the best method for mixing. The dough will be pretty sticky and very shaggy. Carefully move to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm place for 12, preferably 18 hours. Note, the microwave makes for a fabulous bread proofing box as it’s free of drafts and fairly warm.
4. When the dough is ready (it will be bubbly on the top) flour a work surface and place dough on it. Lightly flour the dough and fold it over itself once or twice. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
5. Working quickly, shape the dough into a boule, doing your best to form a taut top and pinch the underside seams well to seal. Note, this dough is harder to shape as it is very loose, but the baking process is very forgiving, so don’t stress over it.
6. Generously coat a cotton towel with flour and place the shaped loaf on it. Sprinkle the top with flour and place another cotton towel over it. Let rise for 2 hours, the dough should be double in size.
7. Thirty minutes or more before the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a 6-8 quart cast iron, enamel or ceramic pot and its lid in the oven. When the dough is ready, remove the pot from the oven and carefully flip the boule into the pot, with the seam side facing up. Shake the pot once or twice to even out, cover, and return to the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 15-30 minutes to achieve a dark, golden crust. Cool on a wire rack.
*Note: To roast garlic, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut off the very top of the head of garlic, drizzle with olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil. Roast for 30-35 minutes, let cool and use a fork to pluck out the cloves.