Slow Bread - Aaaaaaaahhhhhhh!
Jim Lahey has changed life at our house. Jim -- I've seen him in a video and he just cannot be "Mr. Lahey" -- owns the Sullivan Street Bakery in Manhattan and has figured out something new. In every house that has time, flour, water, salt, yeast, a heavy covered pan and a hot oven, people who have never made bread before can now make bread that crackles and chews like the finest ciabatta.
Thanks to recent policy changes at the New York Times, here is the original story that included the recipe. And here is the follow-up story, one month later (December 6, 2006), that featured a few helpful tweaks -- but still no kneading.
Not only that. This is the easiest AND best bread we have ever made.
Jim invited New York Times food writer, chef, and cookbook author Mark Bittman to visit the Sullivan Street Bakery (which is actually on West 47th Street) and use the New York Times food pages to describe the wet dough, slow rise, and covered high heat bake that produces this REAL wonder bread. The world -- or at least the millions of us who value real food, love to cook, and don't happen to live down the block from an artisan bakery -- is responding with delirium. Some devotees have skipped a few bureaucratic steps and conferred sainthood on both men.
Really, I agree.
Jim Lahey and Mark Bittman gave the world a gift beyond measure in November and December, 2006, and they wrapped it in newspaper, specifically the New York Times Food section. Jim Lahey didn't get much attention after that in the national media, but maybe I can remedy Time Magazine's silly "You're the Person of the Year" oversight: I name Jim the Savoring Kentucky Best Guy of 2006.
The story I tell myself about all this is that Jim Lahey loved the process and the ingredients so much he wanted to give them to everyone, and doesn't care all that much about the hoopla he knew would follow. I hope Jim thrives and prospers. If you live in New York, you can get hands-on instruction at the Sullivan Street Bakery.
Do try this bread. For the 21 - 23 hours it is making itself in your house, you will feel a sense of goodness and anticipation. You will be just a little bit happier. That's the magic of slow bread.