{New York Deli Loaf}

I came across this recipe a while ago, I copied and pasted it to myself in an email and it took me about 3 months to make it, what a waste of 3 months !! this is the kind of bread that stops you from trying any other bread recipe. Its the kind of bread you would happily pay five bucks for at the farmers market, the outside is crunchy, it actually crackles as its cooling on the rack and the inside is sourdoughy and chewy, its really divine and the whole loaf always disappears within a few hours, completely irresistible. 

On the down side it takes more than a day to make but don't let that put you off, for 24 hours you are just leaving it alone to do its thing.

...the loaf
3 cups white bread flour
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups, plus 2 tbsp water
extra polenta or flour for dusting

Mix flour, yeast, salt and water together until if forms a shaggy and sticky dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it on your bench or somewhere warm for 24 hours, its ready once its doubled in size and the surface is covered in bubbles.

Lightly flour your bench and hands and pop dough on it (its sticky), turn it over on itself a couple of times then cover with plastic wrap and leave it for 15 minutes.

Get a clean tea towel and put a thickish layer of polenta or flour over half of it then pick up the dough and drop it on top, sprinkle polenta or flour on the top of the loaf and then fold the tea towel over it and leave it for another 2 hours, it will double in size again and won't bounce back when gently poked.

Half an hour before the dough is ready heat the oven to 220 with your Le Crueset (I use the dutch oven shape) in there, or any other cast iron or casserole dish with a lid, when the dough is ready and pot heated carefully slide your hand under the towel and turn dough over into the hot pot. Give it a bit of a jiggle then put the lid on and pop it in the oven for 30 minutes, after 30 mintues remove the lid and bake for another 20 - 30 minutes or until nicely browned and hollow when tapped. Pop onto rack to cool.


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