In less than a day from now, this newlywed will be in Cabo San Lucas for a heavenly week with her husband, Christopher.
Sun, sand and more naturally acquired vitamin D than you can shake a sombrero at; if I were any more excited, I probably wouldn’t be allowed into the country.
What makes it all the more special though, is that it’s our honeymoon. And not just that, but the eve of our one year wedding anniversary.
I.E. When this newlywed officially becomes a One Year Wife. And it’s amazingly, heart-swellingly nice.
It has been a beautiful, difficult, wonderful first year.
And a year of loss too.
They don’t ever tell you that in wedding magazines but it’s true. No manual for that part of newlywed life but there should be.
You see, when we get married, we have to let go of the life we’ve had up to that point in order to begin the one we’ve eagerly walked down the aisle to.
We must then mourn the life we’ve left, at the same time we’re waking up each morning to our best friend.
You can see then how the first year can then be so oftentimes so confusing and frightening.
Yet — along with the sad and darkness — it was a beautiful, wonderful first year too.
I got to start my very own, brand new family of two with my best friend.
And laugh every day.
And among learning so many things — and much about myself — I learned that marriage is much like making good, artisan bread.
You must tend to it at exactly the right time and give it a chance to rise (which at times means leaving it alone and not fussing with it).
And yet you can’t just forget about it and expect it to turn out right.
It requires attention.
Patience, a gentle hand and tenderness.
(A little bit of cultured butter doesn’t hurt either).
Just the right amount of heat …
Lots and lots of love …
Making the other person’s needs just as important as your own …
And always seeking to understand, above all.
Ursula K. LeGuin said it best,
Love does not just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.
And if you tend to it right, it rewards you with the most wonderful of gifts. Itself. And the heart and trust of another.
And the very best ones — like the one I find myself a year later so blessed enough to have — help you rise higher in so many more ways than you ever thought you could.
Best-Ever No-Knead Bread
Simply put, like the very best of marriages, this recipe will change your life. And without even needing a single lick of kneading to do it.
Makes one 1 1/2 pound artisan loaf
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons warm water (heated to 100 – 110 Degrees F)
1/4 cup coarse wheat bran
salted butter, for serving
Add in warmed water and — using a wooden spoon — work ingredients together for about 30 seconds until rough, sticky dough forms and flour is no longer visible.
Cover stock pot with plastic wrap, then with lid and let dough rise for 18 hours at warm room temperature (around 70 Degrees F).
Heavily flour clean work surface with flour — dough will be very wet and sticky — and with your hands, invert pot and gently pull dough out onto flour.
Dust dough generously with more flour and working quickly, gently stretch dough into rough 10-inch square. Fold square into thirds. It will now look roughly like a long rectangle.
Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let sit for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, spread a clean cotton kitchen towel onto clean work surface and rub a generous amount of flour into half of towel. Sprinkle a generous amount of wheat bran over flour.
Note: The flour and wheat bran will prevent the dough from sticking to it, so be sure not to skip this step and be extra generous with both!
Starting with one of the narrow ends of your dough rectangle, fold dough into thirds again. Your dough should now look roughly cube-shaped.
Then very gently — with lightly floured hands — stretch top layer of dough over seams on sides and tuck under, transferring your now-round loaf to the flour/bran-middle of your prepared towel.
Sprinkle generously with more wheat bran, cover lightly with other half of towel — and with plastic wrap — and let rise for another 2 hours.
Note: The cast iron pot is a key piece of equipment here, folks. Without it, the recipe just won’t work, so make sure to use one.
An hour later, place a large baking sheet in center of bottom rack of oven. Close oven door.
Note: This will create a barrier and prevent the bottom of loaf from burning.
Remove plastic wrap and towel from loaf. Then crack open the windows and keep them open (I’m super-duper serious), it’s going to get steamy, real quick.
Then — working quickly and very carefully — remove pot from oven, place on stove top and — using a kitchen towel — very carefully remove lid while looking away.
Working very quickly now, slide hand under towel, lift towel up along with your loaf and quickly invert into pot. Shake pot if necessary to straighten loaf and cover pot with lid.
Transfer pot back to center of middle rack of oven and bake for 30 minutes.
Carefully remove lid and bake loaf for another 15 – 25 minutes uncovered and until loaf is nice and dark brown.
Remove pot from oven and place loaf on wire cooling rack to cool until barely warm to the touch.
Note: As unbelievably tempting as it may be to just rip into your fresh-from-the-oven bread, I urge you to dig deep and wait. Bread develops a great deal of its awesome flavor as it cools, from the crust. The flavors migrate inward as it cools.
Cut into slices using a serrated knife, serve with your favorite butter and …
- Baking the Perfect Loaf of Bread at Home (sullivanstreetbakery.com)
- Adventures in Bread Making: Whole Wheat Flour No-Knead Bread (babyhedgehogs.wordpress.com)
- Bread: the need-to-know about kneading (telegraph.co.uk)
Announcement: As I will be on my honeymoon, Small Kitchen Chronicles and yours truly will be on hiatus through March 27th. As such, I will get back to all your lovely comments when I return. ‘Til then, have a wonderful week, everybody, and see you all back here soon!