Thursday, March 3, 2011


I can't think of anything offhand that I enjoy more than simple buttered toast. It makes a great breakfast, or a worthy substrate for other foods, or a sustaining snack. I applaud whoever first took a slice of bread and held it over a fire until it turned lightly brown, then slathered it with butter. Whoever she was, she invented something so comforting, so universal that it ranks right up there with chicken soup in the pantheon of comfort foods.

When toast is made with bread like this, it surpasses good and goes straight to great. Cousin Jan gave us part of a loaf that she got from the estimable James Sartain, along with the recipe. I haven't made the bread myself yet but I have partaken of it and it comes recommended with several stars.

It's a no-knead bread, too, so even easier to make. I have to admit to being so wonky that I actually enjoy kneading bread, but even I rejoice when something this tasty doesn't require heavy work to produce.

Here's the recipe* - let me know if you make it and how it turned out. And don't forget to toast and butter a couple of the slices.


This recipe makes enough for four 1-pound loves and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Bake it unadorned as a Crusty Boule, or roll ingredients into the refrigerated dough to create sweet and savory loaves.

*James Sartain left a comment and mentioned that he added 1/2 cup of his sourdough starter to the ingredients below, to give the bread added chewiness. If you have starter, you might want to do that, too.

3 1/2 Cups lukewarm water
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 teaspoons coarse salt
7 1/4 cups (2 lb. 4 oz.; 1027.67 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour (measure using scoop and sweep method)
1) Combine water, yeast and salt in large bowl. With spoon (or mixer with paddle attachment), stir in flour (dough will be wet)
2) Place dough in 5-quart lidded container; cover with lid (do not snap airtight). Let rise at room temperature 2 hours.

Refrigerate overnight or up to 14 days.


This crusty European-style loaf has a crisp and hearty crumb. It's perfect as an everyday bread to serve with soups and salads or just a slice of cheese.

1-lb. (grapefruit-sized) portion of Master Recipe (above)

1) Hold dough and dust top with flour; quickly shape into ball by stretching surface of dough around to bottom on all four sides, rotating a quarter turn as you go.

2) Place dough on pizza peel or baking sheet liberally sprinkled with cornmeal or lined with parchment paper; cover loosely with lightly floured plastic wrap. Let stand in warm draft-free place 1 hour or until dough is slightly puffed and no longer chilled.

3)Thirty minutes before baking, place baking stone on center oven rack; place empty broiler pan on bottom oven rack. Heat oven to 450 F.

4) Dust loaf with flour. With serrated knife, make 2 or 3 (1/4-inch-deep) slashes in top of laof. Slide loaf (with parchment paper if using) onto baking stone. Immediately pour 1 cup of hot water into broiler pan; quickly close oven door to trap steam.

5) Bake 30 minutes or until deep golden brown and loaf sounds hollow when topped on bottom. Cool completely on wire rack.

1 (12-slice) loaf.
PER SLICE: 80 calories, 0 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 2.5 g protein, 16.5 g carbohydrate, 0 mg cholesterol, 135 mg sodium, .5 g fiber.



Blogger James said...

Well I'm so glad you liked the bread. I copied the recipe from the "Cooking Club" magazine, though I added a cup and a half of my sourdough starter to the dough in step one. I find that the starter gives the finished bread a bit more chew.

Thursday, March 03, 2011  
Blogger namastenancy said...

I am with you on the good toast. I try to stay away from bread like a good pre-diabetic should. But I do indulge on occasion. One of my favorite breads is Acme's Italian loaf; that with good butter is To Die For. I have also made the no knead bread but it's not sour enough for my taste - and with only one person eating, that's too much bread. But if you make James' bread, I will be very glad to participate in the tasting tests. I'm generous that way.

Thursday, March 03, 2011  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Makes me hungry.
I suspect you wouldn't have any Marmite in the pantry. But think for a second about scraping (not slathering) a very thin swipe of miso on your buttered toast. There's some flavor!

Thursday, March 03, 2011  
Blogger Teresa said...

Love it

btw, bird nest ( is made up of about 58% soluable proteins...the highest amoung all food and even synetic protein powders

it greatly increase tissue regeneration

Friday, March 04, 2011  
Blogger Ms Brown Mouse said...

Cookie, she's got vegemite, much better than that other muck :)

Friday, March 04, 2011  
Blogger Zoomie said...

James, thanks for the bread - and the tip about how to improve it. I added that into the text.

Nancy, James added sourdough starter to his, upping the sour quotient - you two must be on the same wavelength. Also, if you make too much bread, it freezes well, so you could make some and keep some f'later.

Cookiecrumb, I do have Vegemite, thanks to a certain Mouse we know - and she maintains that's better.

Teresa, you spammin' me? Cut that out!

Friday, March 04, 2011  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

No, Vegemite is great. I have some myself. But I was suggesting another use for miso. (We're gonna give it a try ourselves, maybe today.)
Sheesh, culture wars! As for me, I am mouth wide open. (Even have some Bovril, Mouse!)

Friday, March 04, 2011  

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