Whole Wheat Bread with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Olives
I wish I could say I’m an expert bread baker, or even a mediocre bread baker. But I can’t because I’m not. My early bread making experiences resulted in hard, inedible baguettes that resembled the fake bread home décor and furniture stores often use as props. Sadness. It was one failed experiment after another, until eventually I just stopped trying. But then I discovered Jim Lahey’s magical no-knead bread recipe. Happiness!
When Mark Bittman wrote about Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread in 2006, food bloggers on the Interwebs buzzed with excitement. Why? Because the recipe is so easy, requires little work and yields a deliciously crusty loaf. The aroma of freshly baked bread soon filled my kitchen. I experimented with variations: whole wheat flour, grated cheeses, onions, garlic, fresh herbs… life was grand.
One of my favorite combinations is whole wheat with sun-dried tomatoes and olives. Sometimes I’ll add a little Parmesan and caramelized onions. It’s really fabulous as sandwich bread or drizzled with a bit of olive oil and good balsamic vinegar.
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped black olives
2 cups water at about 70 degrees F
Cornmeal as needed
1. Combine whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Add water and stir until blended. Fold in sun-dried tomatoes and olives. Dough will be shaggy and sticky. Add a little more water if dough seems dry.
2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest for about 18 hours in a warmish area, about 70 degrees F.
3. Remove dough from bowl, and place on a lightly floured work surface. Fold dough a few times. Cover the dough loosely with plastic, and let it rest for about 15 minutes.
4. Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking, gently shape the dough into a ball. Coat a cotton towel with cornmeal. Place the dough seam side down on the towel, and dust with more flour or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel or plastic wrap. Let it rise for two hours.
4. About half an hour before the dough is ready, heat a 3- to 4-quart cast-iron, ceramic, Pyrex, or enamel pot with the cover on at 450 degrees F.
5. When the dough is ready. Carefully remove the pot from the oven, and place the dough seam side up inside the pot. Cover with the lid, and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake for another 20-30 minutes, until the loaf is browned.
6. Carefully remove the bread, and cool on rack for 30 minutes before slicing.