Becca and I have left beef, chicken, and pork behind (thanks to the many revealing food documentaries on Netflix…) and are eating more salads these days. To ensure that we’re getting our protein, we’ve amassed a store of canned beans to make a doomsday prepper proud. We’ve got canned garbanzo beans, black beans, white beans, red beans, and lentils. That wall of cans was my inspiration for this recipe.
This loaf turned out great (my wife Becca gave it an enthusiastic, “Yum!”), but things were sketchy during the making of the recipe. I almost had a dud on my hands.
There were several problems (which I detail below), but fortunately, I was able to MacGyver a few quick solutions that worked out nicely.
I recently bought these beauties – bread cloches – that create amazing artisan-style loaves. I’ve clearly broken in the round one and this morning, I was looking forward to using the long one.
Problem #1: the wrong size
I put the dough in a bowl for the first rise and transferred it to a long proofing basket for the second rise.
The proofing basket is a wee bit shorter than the long cloche and as the dough rose, it became clear that it would be too wide for the cloche base. I couldn’t put the risen dough into the long cloche without it hitting the lid as it baked. I briefly entertained the idea of using the round cloche, but the long proofing basket is wider than its base so the dough wouldn’t fit without trimming.
Argh. I didn’t feel like cutting the dough since it was already rising so nicely. So, I placed my trusty baking stone in the oven as it pre-heated. The stone was my Mom’s – one of the many treasures I have from her kitchen. It’s a nice, heavy, well-seasoned stone that provided ample space for the large, oblong loaf I was going to be baking on it.
Problem #2: out of ingredients
The recipe calls for cornmeal or semolina to sprinkle on the cloche base to keep the dough from sticking. Much to my dismay, I discovered that I had run out of both ingredients. Fortunately, I had some masa harina from the time I attempted to make homemade tortillas (ah, the false confidence of too much tequila). Masa harina is corn flour – essentially a finer ground cornmeal – and turned out to be a perfectly suitable substitute.
Problem #3: no lid large enough
When I transferred the dough to the baking stone, I realized it was too large to be covered by either cloche lid. I could have baked it with no lid, but I really like the cripsy, crunchy crust the cloche produces. So, I made a lid from aluminum foil. (How do the Brits and Aussies get five syllables out of a-lu-min-um?).
Problem #4: escaping steam
Since I wasn’t going to have a nice cloche lid to keep the steam in, I created some extra steam in the oven by throwing a cup of ice cubes in a tray on the bottom shelf. I hoped that my foil cover would help keep some of it near the crust.
The crust was not as crispy as it would have been with the cloche, but it came out just right: mildly chewy with a hint of crunch. The crumb is soft and textured with flecks of lentil. Note: if you like more texture and flavor, be bold! Add a whole cup of lentils and a full tablespoon of garlic.
Lentil Garlic Bread
Becca and I have amassed a store of canned beans to make a doomsday prepper proud. Nice to have a can of organic black lentils on hand when you need them!
- 1 scant tablespoon (or one ¼-ounce package) active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¼ cup warm water about 110 degrees
- 1½ cup warm water about 110 degrees
- ¾ tablespoon salt
- 5 cups unbleached flour
- ½ tablespoon garlic purée
- ½ cup black lentils (pre-made, from a can)
- cornmeal or semolina flour
Note: this recipe uses a baking stone.
In a small bowl, stir yeast and sugar into ¼ cup water to soften.
Combine flour, salt, lentils, and garlic in a large bowl.
Add the yeast mixture and the rest of the water. Mix well adding more flour or water as necessary.
Turn dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead until you have a smooth, elastic dough.
Dust the dough with flour and place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about one hour.
Punch the dough down, remove from the bowl, and knead it a few times. Let the dough rest on the counter for about 5 minutes and then shape into a ball.
Place the dough in a well-floured proofing basket, cover with a tightly woven towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.
About 30 minutes before baking, place the baking stone in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees. Place a shallow pan or cookie sheet on the shelf below the baking stone.
When ready to bake, sprinkle the baking stone with corn meal or semolina flour. Gently turn the dough onto the baking stone and score the top of the loaf with a sharp knife.
Make a cover out of tin foil and place over the dough. Right before you close the oven, toss a cup of ice cubes in the pan on the bottom shelf. Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the foil cover. Bake for 15 minutes more or until the crust is golden brown. The internal temperature of the loaf should be about 190 degrees. Immediately remove bread from the baking stone and cool on a rack.