Neni’s White Bread
Neni’s husband Stathis says the only downside of homemade bread is you end up eating too much of it. He’s right. But it is so easy to make, using the Lahey technique that in my opinion is the most significant contribution to recipe writing in years. You need a 2-quart Dutch oven to make this bread.
Makes one 2 lb loaf
3 1/3 cups organic white flour
½ cup white semolina
½ teaspoon dry yeast
1 ¾ cups tepid water (or a little more, depending on the humidity in your kitchen)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
- In a large bowl combine the flour, semolina, yeast and salt and mix well. Add the water and mix with a spoon until the dough easily pulls away from the sides of the bowl, a minute or so. Form the dough into a loose ball and leave in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 4 hours. (Neni covers her with a shower cap she filched from a hotel. It is such a perfect solution that I almost checked into a hotel just to get one. Luckily, I got one from my sister Lisa, an aerialist turned JEWELER, who travels frequently and saves everything. Once I opened a drawer in her kitchen and it had about a thousand twist ties in it. Really, Lisa? If you don’t cover the dough with plastic, or use a dishtowel, the dough will dry out a bit on top. It’s okay.)
- After 4 hours tip the bowl: the dough will have developed many tiny stretchy holes. If it has not, then let the dough rest 30 minutes more.
- Lay a dishcloth onto your counter. Add ¼ cup of flour and ¼ cup of semolina to the center of the dishtowel and spread it in a large circle with your palm.
- Preheat the oven to 450F.
- Form the dough into a ball, turning the sides down and under the dough. Place the dough seam side down into the flour on the dishcloth. Rub 1 teaspoon of olive oil over the top of the dough, cover with the bowl you raised the dough in and let rest 30 minutes.
- Flip the dough into a 2-quart Dutch oven so that the oiled side is down. Cover and place the dough in the middle of the oven. Bake 30 minutes, then remove the top and bake 20 to 30 minutes more.