My kids sometimes tease me and say that actually I'm Amish. I'm not, but they sometimes think I am because I have this tendency to try and make everything by myself, from scratch. I have made homemade peanut butter which was great and really not so difficult. I'm just not sure it's worth the effort when you can get good peanut butter without the preservatives, emulsifiers and all the rest for only slightly more than it costs me to make, and without the fuss. I have made jams, and jellies and, yes, even some soft cheeses. My latest foray into that department was paneer, the soft, white Indian cheese that goes so great with curried spinach, and, of course, chapattis.
This bread is no different. It starts with a poolish of flour, water and only a small pinch of yeast. After 48 hours at room temperature, when it is good and strong, you build the rest. The 'Amish' part in this bread comes from the homemade sun-dried tomatoes, made actually in the oven and stored in olive oil. The result is an artisan loaf, with a thick chewy crust and a close, dense crumb. The flavor has a definite tanginess that comes from the poolish and from the tomatoes. What can I say. Last night I made a salami sandwich with sharp Dijon mustard that couldn't be beat. No sogginess, no falling apart. Just great flavor and texture from beginning to end. Definitely a keeper.
Here's What You'll Need:
(the the poolish)
100g (3 1/2oz) AP flour
100ml warm water
a pinch of instant yeast
For the bread:
350g (about 12oz) bread flour
100g (3 1/2oz) whole wheat flour
50g (1 1/2oz) rye flour
7g (1/2Tbs) instant yeast
225-250ml (7 1/2-8oz) warm water
12g (1/2Tbs) salt
50g (1 1/2oz) sun-dried tomatoes, well drained
50g (1 1/2oz) green or black olives coarsley chopped (optional)
Here's What You'll Need to Do:
1. Mix together the flour, water and yeast for the poolish in a large bowl until you get a very loose slurry. Like thick cake batter. Cover with plastic, and let it ferment at room temperature overnight or even, if you're busy, for 2 days.
2. Mix all the remaining ingredients into the poolish, except the tomatoes and olives, and knead to form a smooth, only slightly sticky dough. Let the dough rise in a covered, lightly-oiled bowl until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
3. Remove the dough from the bowl, and deflate. Add in the tomatoes and olives (if using) then knead until evenly distributed. Form into a tight boule, and place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour.
4. In the meantime, place a baking stone in the oven and preheat to 220C (425F).
5. Just before baking, slash the loaf, then place a pan of boiling water under the stone, and spray the loaf well.
6. Bake with the paper, right on the stone for about 35-40 minutes or until it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cook on a rack completely before slicing.
* This is a variation of a recipe in an Israeli cookbook that features recipes from the outdoor farmer's market in Jerusalem. The artisan bakery there, Teller's Bakery, specializes in artisan loaves.