In case you haven’t guessed, I love bread. I especially love fresh from the oven, homemade bread. While at Langlois Culinary Crossroads in New Orleans for cooking school, I learned just how easy it is to make delicious, wonderful bread at home. From scratch. Even though it officially takes two days, I promise it is really worth it.
Note: The most important ingredient is a clay or cast iron dutch oven or clay pot with a tight-fitting lid. We found this one from Lodge on sale and couldn’t be happier.
Langlois Crusty Bread
Wish together the flour, salt and yeast in your favorite mixing bowl.
Add the water and mix until a "shaggy mixture" forms.
As Chef Matt said when showing us how to make this, it should look like a wet dog.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for at least 12 hours or overnight. Longer in this case is better.
The next day (or 12 hours later) place the dutch oven and lid in a 450-degree oven so the pot and the oven are heating at the same time.
Turn out the dough on a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball.
When the oven (and the dutch oven) reach 450 degrees, place the dough in the center of a piece of parchment paper and put the whole thing in the dutch oven with the parchment paper side down.
Cover with the lid and either return to the oven, or slide the wire rack back in and close the oven door (I find the second way to be the easiest rather than trying to lift the super hot dutch oven in and out of the oven more than once).
Cook covered for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, remove the lid and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Bake for an additional 30 minutes.
Remove the bread from the oven and place on a cooling rack. (This means take it out of the dutch oven.)
There are directions for stuffed bread, but I haven’t tried it yet. I want to get the basics down first. In my first few trials (and errors!) I learned valuable lessons, like the difference between iodized and kosher salt, that sometimes the times are off and it is ok to cook bread a little longer to get a more golden crust. If you do accidentally use iodized salt and the bread is a bit on the salty side, treat it like a bagel and just don’t salt the eggs for the bagel, egg and cheese sandwich (it evens out in the end). It’s been hard not to make this every single weekend since we returned!
As promised, now that Thanksgiving is over and we have had a chance to do a post-mortem on what worked and what didn’t, I’ll be sharing the recipes that made the cut. First, is this delicious take on sweet potato casserole.
C found this recipe on the Fabulousfoodshow.com and has perfected it in the last year. We kept it warm in a crock pot while other dishes took up precious oven and burner space.
Tyler Florence's Roasted Sweet Potato Banana Puree
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork and put them on a roasting pan.
On another roasting pan prick bananas and lay out in a single layer.
Roast sweet potatoes for 45 minutes until very soft and roast bananas for 25 minutes. (If you are in a huge hurry, you can boil the sweet potatoes, but do not try boiling the bananas!)
Remove both pans from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
In a small sauce pot heat cream with bay leaf until reduced by half, then keep warm until ready to puree potatoes and bananas.
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh into the bowl of a food processor (A blender will work, but only if the potatoes are cool).
Add peeled bananas. Season with salt, add butter, cream (make sure you took the bay leaves out!), cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and puree until smooth (or if you like it a little chunky, a little chunky).
Pour into an oven-proof dish.
Make the topping by combining flour, cold butter and brown sugar in the food processor and pulse until you have the texture of coarse bread crumbs.
Sprinkle on top of the puree and place under the broiler until golden brown and crispy, about 4-5 minutes.
I really love this dish. This year we actually forgot the topping and it was still just as wonderful! You can make it a couple of days (no more than 2!) ahead of your holiday meal and keep it refrigerated. Then reheat in a crock pot like we did or in the oven. If you are keeping it in the crock pot, sprinkle each serving with the topping and use a brûlée torch to make it golden brown and crispy.