I cannot tell you the joy of seeing my daughters cook and they take such pride in their accomplishments.
As they were growing up, we often cooked in the kitchen together.
We seldom bought prepared foods but rather cooked from scratch... breads, pies, desserts, simmering stews, soups, etc.
So on Easter, my daughter Molly invited us for lunch and served this delicious bread.
It always amazes me how both daughters find time to work, be a mom and wife, and also take the time to cook in the kitchen!
This bread is almost effortless to make because it requires no kneading. Instead, the dough is allowed to slowly rise over a long period of time.
Then it is baked in a preheated covered cast-iron pot, which helps produce a crispy, bakery-style crust on the finished loaf.
3 c. all-purpose FLOUR
1/4 tsp. ACTIVE DRY YEAST
1 3/4 tsp. SALT
2 tsp. chopped fresh ROSEMARY
2 tsp. chopped LEMON ZEST
Cornmeal, as needed
In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt, rosemary and zest.
Add 1 5/8 cups water and stir until blended; the dough will be shaggy and very sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Let the dough rest at warm room temperature (about 70°F) until the surface is dotted with bubbles, 12 to 18 hours.
Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle the dough with a little flour and fold the dough over onto itself once or twice.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or your fingers, gently and quickly shape the dough into a ball.
Generously coat a cotton towel, preferably a flour sack towel (not terry cloth), with cornmeal.
Put the dough, seam side down, on the towel and dust with more flour or cornmeal.
Cover with another cotton towel and let rise until the dough is more than double in size and does not readily spring back when poked with a finger, about 2 hours.
At least 30 minutes before the dough is ready, put a 2 3/4-quart cast-iron pot in the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F.
Carefully remove the pot from the oven. Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over, seam side up, into the pot; it may look like a mess, but that is OK.
Shake the pan once or twice if the dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.
Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the loaf is browned, 15 to 30 minutes more.
Transfer the pot to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Using oven mitts, turn the pot on its side and gently turn the bread; it will release easily. Makes one 1 1/2-lb. loaf.
Adapted from Sullivan Street Bakery (New York City) and Mark Bittman, "The Secret of Great Bread: Let Time Do the Work," The New York Times, Nov. 8, 2006.