Bouled Over

I’m just catching up from a media trip to Toronto last week—a whirlwind of television, radio, internet, print media, and two events at First Canadian Place with packed houses both times. (See the video from LeGourmet TV below).

I’m a big fan of interior designer Sarah Richardson (Sarah’s House, Design Inc. on the Fine Living cable network), so I was delighted to spend a little time in her city. And also delighted to spy actor Sam Neill having dinner at Nota Bene, one table down from us.

Bright lights, big city—count me in!

Last time, we entered the world of no-knead, one bowl artisan bread with the basic recipe—just four ingredients. Now, that’s fresh idea. Keep it simple.

When you want to form a boule—a round loaf—just remove half of the dough from the bowl and pat it into a round. This dough does most of the work for you. Just remember to pinch any seams together so the dough has one smooth skin.

If you want to make a batard or a fatter baguette, and make one with a little drama, try this new recipe. Just because your cookbook has been published doesn’t mean you’re still not having fun coming up with new ideas. After all, that’s one of the premises of the book—use the recipes as blueprints to come up with your own signature breads.

One-Bowl, No-Knead Wild Rice Batard

Can you whip up a batch of brownies from a mix? Sure, you can. Well, those are the basic skills you need to make this savory, one-bowl, no-knead artisan bread, believe it or not. Follow 10 easy steps and you’re on your way—without expensive equipment, lots of time, or baker’s angst. Use instant or bread machine yeast, available in jars in the baking section, as it can just be stirred into the flour. More moisture in the dough takes the place of kneading. And you’ll know when your bread is done by taking its temperature (with an instant read thermometer). What’s even better, this dough follows your lead: You can bake right after the dough has risen or wait a couple of days. If only the rest of our lives worked like that. . .

Makes 1 loaf to serve 8 to 12
3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 tbsp instant or bread machine yeast
3/4 tbsp fine table salt
1 ½ tsp ground white pepper
¾ cup cooked wild rice or shortgrain black pearl rice, patted dry with paper towels
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water, about 100°F
2 tbsp honey
¼ cup cornmeal for sprinkling
2 cups hot water for broiler pan

1. Measure. Spoon the flours into a measuring cup, level with a knife or your finger, then dump the flour into a large mixing bowl.

2. Mix. Add the yeast, salt, ground white pepper, and cooked rice to the flours. Stir together with a wooden spoon. Stir the water and honey together, then pour into the dry ingredients. Stir together until just moistened. Beat 40 strokes, scraping the bottom and the sides of the bowl, until the dough forms a lumpy, sticky mass.

3. Rise. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature 72°F for 2 hours or until the dough has risen near the top of the bowl and has a sponge-like appearance.

4. Use Right Away or Refrigerate. Use that day or place the dough, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before baking.

5. Form. To form a batard, remove the dough with a dough scraper to a floured surface and dust very lightly with flour. Flour your hands. Working the dough as little as possible and adding flour as necessary, form the dough into a 14-inch cylinder. Smooth the dough with your hands to form a soft, non-sticky skin. Pinch any seams together to prevent “blow-outs” as the loaf bakes. Pinch each end into a point. Lightly flour any sticky places on the dough. The dough should feel soft and smooth all over, like a baby’s skin (but with lumps from the rice), not at all sticky.

6. Rest. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the dough on the baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel and let rest at room temperature for 40 minutes.

7. Prepare Oven for Artisan Baking. About 30 minutes before baking, place a broiler pan on the lower shelf. Preheat to 450°F.

8. Slash Batard with Serrated Knife. When ready to bake, the dough will not have risen much, but will finish rising dramatically in the oven. Using a serrated knife, make five evenly spaced diagonal slashes across and down the length of the dough—about 1-inch deep—exposing the moist dough under the surface. The slashes help the batard bake more evenly and add an attractive pattern where the exposed moist dough “blows out.”

9. Slide Batard into Oven and Add Water to Broiler Pan. Place the baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven. Pull the lower rack out, pour the hot water into the broiler pan, and push the lower rack back in place.

10. Bake. Bake for 27 to 29 minutes or until the crust is a medium dark brown and an instant read thermometer inserted in the center of the loaf registers at least 190°F. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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