Chef Maya Aldy joins The Foodie Magazine with her recurring column, Maya’s Musings. Maya trained at the French Culinary Institute and her experience in various kitchens in New York, Bali, and Jakarta. She is head chef and part owner of Otel Lobby in South Jakarta. Aside from cooking, Maya lives a very active life, works out, does yoga and marathons. Maya’s Musings will feature her take on easy home-prepared meals and dishes.
One of the things I miss most about living in New York has always been the gorgeous fleshly baked breads. My favorite place was Sullivan Street Bakery owned by Jim Lahey. Everyday on my way to work, I would walk passed the bakery and would be mesmerized by the smells of the freshly baked bread wafting through the air. I always had to succumb and buy something from them. One of Jim’s breads which I quite fancied was this ‘no knead’ country rustic bread. The bread was fragrant, had a nice crust and was very delicious, and quite popular. As I did my own research, I discovered that it was fairly easy to do and didn’t need any special equipment. I tried it at home and voila! It was the very first bread I learned to bake.
Since moving back to Indonesia, to satiate my cravings for crusty bread, I’ve started to bake my own. The recipe I am passing on to you is one of my easiest, it doesn’t need any special equipment except for a dutch oven or a ceramic covered casserole in which we bake the bread in. Baking the bread in the casserole gives it that thick and crunchy crust, which I love so much. As this is a basic recipe, once you have done it a few times, you can always customize it on your own. You can add walnuts, pecans, and other nuts and even some dried fruits to it. The bread is great eaten on its own but is also goes well with some churned honey-butter, which we serve at Otel Lobby or with some mousses or pate. It is also perfect for sandwiches because of its density and again, the thick crust!
- 3 cups All-purpose flour
- ½ tea spoon Dry yeast
- 1 ¼ tea spoon Salt
- 1 1/3 cup Water (room temperature)
Optional: Replace 3/4 cup of All-purpose flour with wheat flour
- Oven with temperature control
- A Dutch oven (braadpan)
- Measuring spoons and cups
- Glass or stainless steel mixing bowl
- Put all the ingredients into a mixing bowl.
- Mix the ingredients by hand for around 5 minutes to thicken the dough. Don’t be afraid to add water if needed to keep it a bit moist.
- Keep the dough at least about 12-18 hours inside the bowl but wrapped with damp towel or plastic wrap. Store away from sunlight and in the coolest corner of your kitchen.
- After the dough has risen, it is time to knead and fold. Flour your kitchen counter or table. Gently move the dough from the bowl and flatten it out on your surface.
- Shape the dough so it has four corners and dust it with flour.
- Wrap the dough like an envelope by using the four corners and flip the seam down
OPTIONAL: Dust a bit of wheat flour to make it more colorful after it is baked.
- Dust a kitchen towel with flour and wrap the dough inside. Rest it for about 30-45 minutes.
- While at it, set the oven at 225OC and heat the empty Dutch oven inside for around 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes of heating, the dough should also be ready as well. Put the dough inside the Dutch oven while it’s hot. You want it hot so that the Dutch oven will create some steam during the baking process that helps the dough to get the crusty texture.
- Bake it for 30 minutes still at 225OC with the lid on.
- Take the lid off, lower the temperature to 200OC and bake for another 15-20 minutes. Don’t worry about the color, a dark crust would be okay.
- Take it out from the oven and rest the bread for around 20 minutes before you cut it.
- Enjoy the bread while it’s warm!
MAKE YOUR OWN BUTTER
Whisk fresh heavy cream vigorously or use an electric mixer. Once the cream has broken down into butter, add some honey and continue to mix until the honey is well incorporated.
Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE December 2013 edition
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Photos by Himawan Sutanto