five superb, easy doughs

10 minute bread (it's 10 minutes of work, including cleanup, over a 24 hour period)

from Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery in New York.

  1. mix: 3 cups flour, 1/4 tsp yeast, 2 tsp salt, 1 5/8 cups water (that's 1.5 cups plus 2 tbsp). use your hands! (they're easier to clean. we discovered this after making the video.)
  2. cover bowl with plastic wrap (or a plate), let rest at room temperature at least 12 hours, but 18 or 24 is fine too.
  3. 1st nap: sprinkle LOTS of flour on a surface. remove the sticky dough from the bowl and dump it on the surface. sprinkle a lot of flour on the dough. fold it over on itself once or twice. cover with the plastic wrap and leave it alone for 15 minutes.
  4. 2nd nap: find a cotton towel that is not terrycloth (a kitchen towel, not a bath towel). sprinkle it with a lot of flour. shape the dough into a ball (or as close to a ball as you can get it, given that it may be very mushy). as you are tucking the dough into a ball, keep the smooth side up. put it in the towel. leave it alone for 1.5 hours.
  5. after 1.5 hours, turn the oven on to 450 degrees. Put a large pot for which you have a cover into the oven. (A 4 quart pot is good, but bigger is ok too. Cast iron, pyrex, stainless, or ceramic are all fine.) Go away for 30 minutes.
  6. carefully drop the dough into the pan. turning it upside down on the way from the towel to the pan. this way the "seam" from the bottom of the ball ends up on the top of the bread. put the lid on the pay. bake for 30 minutes. if it's starting to brown at this point it's probably done. turn the bread out of the pan and knock the bottom. if it sounds hollow it's done.
  7. if the bread smells yeasty or if it is not yet brown, put it back in the oven without the pot for another 10-20 minutes. how long is a matter of unpredictable oven temperature and your crust preferences. check it every 5 minutes until you get to know your oven and preferences. if you want a crisper crust, but it's already brown when you take it out of the pot, turn the oven off and put the bread back in for a few minutes.

 

Real time (10 minute) How-to video (if you don't see below, click here (quicktime)

Here's another video, with Jim Lahey himself showing you how to do it, with Mark Bittman of the New York Times, who made this recipe famous.
Lahey says "Make sure everyone has access to it. That's the goal."

Notes

  • it's hard to cut the bread when it's hot, so use a sharp knife and saw gently, but it is delicious hot! have butter ready.
  • STORAGE! do NOT put the bread in plastic. do NOT put the bread in the refrigerator. store in a brown paper bag, or wrapped in the kitchen towel on the counter. after the 2nd day, we recommend toasting for best flavor.
  • PROPER TOASTING: do NOT undertoast. you should feel "twoness" when you squeeze the center of the toast slightly. it should feel like souffle on the inside and crisp on on the surface. before you get to this point, it's inadequately toasted.

Additions to the bread:

  • to make a multigrain bread, add up to 4 handfuls of uncooked seeds and grains (wheat berries, rice, buckwheat, flaxseed, quinoa, barley...) in step 1.
  • if you want to add herbs, olives, dried fruit, or nuts, stir them into the bowl (using your hands) just before removing the sticky dough in step 3.
  • our favorite recipe for raisin walnut bread: add 1/4 cup of buckwheat flour in step 1. add 3/4 cup raisins and 3/4 cup walnuts at the beginning of step 3 (stir into the bowl before you dump it out).


 

 

sweet tart dough for fresh fruit tarts, also fine recipe as pie crust (this is called pâte sucrée) . make and bake, no waiting.

  1. mix: 1 cup flour, 2 tbsp granulated sugar, 1/4 tsp salt.
  2. slice into the bowl: 6 tbsp cold butter
  3. using fingers, break the butter into smaller and smaller pieces. as it mixes with the dry ingredients, it will eventually form a mealy texture. remember to break, not squeeze. this is called "cutting in".
  4. once you have an even meal, dribble water into the bowl 1 tbsp at a time, now squeezing the dough together until it forms a ball. as soon as it's all able to stick together, the dough is done. do not knead or work the dough.
  5. use plenty of flour to prevent this delicate dough from sticking. roll to a thickness of 1/8-1/4 inch. if you are using a tart pan with a removable bottom, roll the dough out directly onto the tart pan so you don't have to move it. if you do have to move the dough, such as into a pie pan, it may break, but you can repair it by just pushing on it once it's in place.

for a summer fruit tart

  • bake the pastry shell at 350 until pale golden. (12-15 minutes)
  • while it's baking, mix one tub of ricotta cheese with 1/2 cup white sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  • remove from oven and place a small handful of semi-sweet chocolate in the middle of the shell. return to oven for one minute. remove and turn off the oven. use a butter knife to spread the chocolate across the shell.
  • let cool (if you are in a hurry, you can cool it in the freezer for about 10 minutes)
  • spread 1/2 of the ricotta over the tart and then smother with sliced fresh fruit.

 

 

savory tart dough for quiches, onion tarts, etc. (this is called pâte brisée) . make and bake, no waiting.

  1. mix: 2.5 cup flour, 1 tsp salt
  2. slice into the bowl: 1 cup cold butter
  3. using fingers, break the butter into smaller and smaller pieces. as it mixes with the dry ingredients, it will eventually form a mealy texture. remember to break, not squeeze. this is called "cutting in".
  4. once you have an even meal, dribble water into the bowl 1 tbsp at a time, now squeezing the dough together until it forms a ball. as soon as it's all able to stick together, the dough is done. do not knead or work the dough.
  5. use plenty of flour to prevent this delicate dough from sticking. roll to a thickness of 1/8-1/4 inch. if you are using a tart pan with a removable bottom, roll the dough out directly onto the tart pan so you don't have to move it. if you do have to move the dough, such as into a pie pan, it may break, but you can repair it by just pushing on it once it's in place.

quiche filling:

  • some vegetables can be put in raw: asparagus, corn, tomatoes, red onions, spinach. others should be cooked: white onions, leeks, mushrooms, kale, bacon
  • roll out 1/2 batch of dough and fold into a tart pan.
    put the vegetables and cheese if you want into the bottom of the pan
  • then pour in the following, which you have mixed in a bowl: 4 eggs,1 cup cream (yogurt is even better), 1 tsp salt, pinch nutmeg, pinch black pepper)
  • bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted comes out cleanly.

pizza dough this is closer to a foccaccia dough than a traditional pizza dough. it's chewier and saltier, which we prefer.

  1. dissolve 2 1/2 tsp yeast in 1 cup warm (body temperature) water. use the inside of your wrist to guage the water. if the water feels neither hot nor cold on your wrist, it's close to body temperature.
  2. add 1 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tbsp olive oil, and a pinch of sugar
  3. stir in 2 cups of flour. you can also use up to one cup of cornmeal. keep adding flour until you can't stir any more.
  4. dump the dough out on a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, keep adding flour to control stickiness. eventually it should not be sticky at all.
  5. put the dough in a bowl oiled with olive oil, turn over to coat. cover with a towel and let rise for 30-40 minutes.
  6. divide dough in half pat into ovals about 1/2" thick.
  7. brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, add toppings.
  8. let rise 20 minutes.
  9. bake at 375 until golden brown on bottom and edges

pasta dough you may never go back to dry pasta after trying this.

be sure to put a big pot of water on to boil before starting, because that takes as long as making the dough!

  1. put in a bowl: 1 cup flour, 1 egg, 1 tsp olive oil, and a large pinch of salt. (you can actually add as many eggs as you like for more eggy flavour.)
  2. using your hands, mix until the wet and dry are evenly distrubted. the result will be sort of flaky and clumpy, but evenly so.
  3. add a tiny bit of water and squeeze the mixture together until it all sticks together.
  4. set up a broomstick or some other vertical thing on which you can hang the cut dough until you are ready to cook it.
  5. if you have a pasta machine, take a small piece of the dough (about 1/8 of it) and roll it through the widest setting of the rollers. tighten the rollers and go again, until you have reached desired thinness. i prefer dough done at 5 or 6. if the dough tears in the rollers, smash it up and try again. flouring between rollings will prevent the tearing which happens because the dough is too sticky to go through cleanly. you can use the machines cutters or cut by hand with a knife.
  6. you do not need a pasta machine. you can roll the dough by hand with a rolling pin and cut it with a knife. don't worry about having uneven strips, they will look beautiful!
  7. use lots of water and boil the pasta for only a few minutes. you can tell it's done when the color changes from yellow to white.

some of our favorite simple sauces

  • butter, fresh sliced tomatoes, crunchy maldon sea salt
  • butter, fresh flat leaf parsley, fresh mint, toasted walnuts (bake about 10 min until they are fragrant)
  • browned butter (cooked until it gives off a toasty smell and turns slightly brown) with a pinch of clove, toasted fresh sage leaves (bake in the oven about 5 minutes until they become brittle)
  • skillet roasted corn, pecorino or parmesan cut with a big grater, lots of black pepper