A Year of Yeast: Jim Lahey’s Stecca

As I alluded to in yesterday’s post, I’m starting some new series on the blog. Weekend Wanderlust was the first and A Year of Yeast is the second. (I’m basically holding myself accountable for creating some awesome new content because that’s how much I love you!) Anyway, for years, I have avoided any recipe that involves yeast because of the time it takes and my fear that things won’t rise and the recipe will go horribly wrong. Well, with those concerns packed away, I’m challenging myself to embrace yeast. Every other Tuesday, now through the end of the year, I will be sharing my adventure, hence a year of yeast. To start, I will be using other peoples recipes* with hopes of developing my own as I get a bit more comfortable. Sound good?




You can thank my sister-in-law for today’s recipes. A few years ago we went to an Outstanding in the Field dinner and the guest chef was Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City. My sister-in-law bought me his book, My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method, but until now I hadn’t used it. 



Basically, Jim has a technique for bread baking that requires no kneading. For a bread baking novice, I figured this was the perfect place to start. His recipe for Stecca, similar to a baguette, immediately caught my eye as it was covered with tomatoes and olives. Yes, please!


The complete recipe and directions can be found below. The process is really rather simple. Combine all your ingredients. 


 Including the dreaded (not so much anymore) yeast. 


Mix it all up. Then let it sit and rise overnight (12-18 hours).


By the next morning my dough had doubled in size. 


Next, scrape it out of the bowl, fold it over a few times, and let it rise again for another two hours. (Again, detailed directions are below.)


After that, remove it from the bowl again and quarter the dough with a knife.



Stretch each quarter of dough into a long, thin baguette and place the baguettes on an oiled baking sheet. 

Tuck in the olives and tomatoes, brush with olive oil, and add a little salt and / or pepper. You can also use cloves of garlic or green tomatoes. I just used what I had on hand. Be sure to tuck them in pretty good. A few of my olives and tomatoes popped out during the baking process.



Slide the pan into oven and bake for 15-20 minutes at 500 degrees F. That’s it, peeps!


Hot, delicious bread! 


Admittedly, due to the dough-rising process, this recipe does take some advance planning. Here’s the thing, though: the hands-on time is minimal and the process really couldn’t be easier. 

I think this was the the perfect start to my baking adventure. Now, I’m wrapping these up and sending them to my grandparents. If I don’t, I will eat all four loves in one sitting. Seriously.


Just to be clear, this is not my recipe. All the credit goes to Jim Lahey. I’m merely copying his genius.

…………………………


Recipe from My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method by Jim Lahey.

3 cups (400 grams) bread flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon instant or other active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups (350 grams) cool 55-65 degree F water
Additional flour for dusting
20 pieces of any combination of the following: whole garlic cloves, whole olives, halved cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt

1. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, table salt, sugar, and yeast. Add the water, and using a wooden spoon, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough (about 30 seconds). Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size (10-18 hours or 24 hours if you have a cold home).

2.  When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface with flour. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece. Fold the dough over itself two or three times and gently shape it into a somewhat flattened ball. Brush the surface of the dough with some of the olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the coarse salt (which will gradually dissolve on the surface).

3.  Grab a large bowl (large enough to hold the dough when it doubles in size – You could also use a large pot.) and brush the insides of the bowl with olive oil. Gently place the dough, seam side down into the bowl. Cover the bowl with a towel. Place in a warm, draft-free spot and let the dough rise for 1-2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost doubled. If you gently poke it with your finger, it should hold the impression. If it springs back, let it rise for another 15 minutes.

4. Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven (with a rack in the center) to 500 degrees F. Also, oil a 13″ x 18″ x 1″ baking sheet.

5.  Cut the dough into quarters. Gently stretch each piece evenly into a long, thin, baguette shape approximately the length of the pan. Place on the pan, leaving about 1 inch between the loaves. Embed the garlic cloves, olives, or cherry tomatoes into the loaves, about five pieces per loaf. Drizzle, dab, or brush olive oil on each loaf. Sprinkle sea salt or kosher salt over each loaf. Remember to go light on the olive loaf since the olives are salty.

6. Bake for 15-25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Cool on a pan for five minutes; then use a spatula to transfer each baguette to a rack to cool thoroughly.

…………………………


Happy baking, folks! 

*If you have a favorite or go-to bread recipe, please leave it in the comments. Be it salty, sweet, or something in between, I’m looking for great recipes.

This post first appeared on Inspired by Charm on 1/22/2013.


All text, photographs, and graphics were created by Lifestyle Blogger Michael Wurm, Jr. unless stated otherwise.

  1. I’ve always been afraid of the yeast too! Which is a damn shame because maaaaan do I love bread. I’d be right there with you eating all 4 loaves. But you make it sound not totally complicated! And since my days are broken up into pieces and run by a toddler, doing things in multiple steps is actually preferable. Can’t wait to see more :)

  2. Oooh these look yummy, and I love the no-kneading aspect of this recipe. I recently tried Pioneer Woman cinnamon rolls and her dough is a no-knead gig. We loved the bread part of the rolls, but I’d use a little less sugar next time. Looking forward to seeing more yeast recipes here on your blog. Well done!

  3. A year of yeast……….now that is my kind of year! Your bread is beautiful and I will be giving it a try! Thank you Michael! lin

  4. Oh my! This looks fabulous! I too have always steered away from recipes with yeast and also kneading! They always sound like too much work and have too many opportunities for error. You make this seem so easy! I must try! I’m excited to follow you on your journey with yeast!

  5. LOVE!!!! Thanks for sharing Michael. I’ll be adding Jim’s book to my “no knead” and no fuss bread library. This is definitely on the menu this weekend, I can almost smell that yeasty lovin’. I believe the girl version is dude-ette, hee, hee

  6. I can’t believe you made that bread………it is beautiful and looks delicious! I’m definitely going to try it, I hope mine looks as “professional” as yours!

  7. Love it!!! I actually lived right next door to Sullivan St Bakery for 4 yrs (late 90′s) and believe me it was hard not buying a loaf of bread to eat EVERY time I left my apt!!! I had never thought about making my own baguettes (share the same fear of yeast as you) Am going to try these for book club next month! Loving the new content! HRT

  8. Well guess what everybody I was one of the lucky ones, along with Michaels grandparents who got to enjoy this scrumptious bread. It definetly tasted as good as it look. Most of the time this Son of mine truly amazes me.. Love Mom

  9. This looks like a wonderful recipe! I love making bread but my wrists can’t handle the kneading. I finally bought myself a KitchenAid mixer but this no-knead bread sounds so easy that I’ll have to try it out.

    I’m going to like your “Year of Yeast”. :)

  10. Awesome idea, Michael! This new series fits into my own goal of perfecting yeasted bread-making, like my mom did when I was a kid. I am on week two of baking and am slowly figuring out nuances. Looking forward to the recipes you post.

  11. The only problem I have ever had with yeast is trying to get the dough to rise when the house is just not warm enough. During the winter I usually turn the oven on to the lowest temperature and put the dough inside the oven with the door open. When you keep the house cool (to save energy and money) the extra heat is needed for the yeast to work. I can remember trying to bake bread during a week long power failure…needless to say, it didn’t work!

    Just remember, baking is pure chemistry, you can’t mess around with things too much.

    Good luck and have fun, there is no better smell than that of bread baking!

    Kathy T.
    bkdbm@charter.net

  12. Another important point is the humidity in the oven. You need to put a cup of water in your oven while baking your bread.
    That’s what I always do since I began to make my own bread a few years ago.
    That was a little advice from a French girl who LOVES bread ;-)

  13. Lol, I am terrified of using yeast as I have “bombed” many recipes calling for it! Monday I made bread from a box requiring yeast and it actually turned out delicious and gave me a little more confidence. I think I may try this recipe next, sounds yummy! Good luck on your baking adventures!!

  14. Michael, I’ve done something similar, but used Italian seasoning with the tomatoes and, instead of canned olives used the Olive Salad from DeLullo’s Deli(minus the pits). Gives the bread much more flavor. I also sprinkled Grated Parmesan on top. It’s yummy!

  15. These look so delicious Michael! I can’t go without some good carbs definitely want to try these. I love your new logo by the way, maybe it’s not new and I’m just dreaming but either way I love it =)!

  16. Hi Michael, you are going to laugh, but I didn’t. I am not new to bread baking so this will be even funnier. When I made this, and it is really easy and fast except the rising time I didn’t really see the amount of sugar. For some reason I thought it said 3/4c instead of tsp. When I did it, it didn’t seem right, but I thought it might have to do with the no knead and the rising. Well, needless to say, it was very sweet. The texture and everything about it was great, just a little sweet, Ha Ha. Will make again. Also be carefull with the water, don’t add all at once. My dough was pretty wet.

  17. Thanks for the recipe! I’m going to make the dough tonight so when I get home from work tomorrow I can finish it up. I make a LOT of bread – my family can’t get enough & my kids always want homemade bread for lunches. I have a sourdough starter from King Arthur Flour & that forces me to do something at least once a week with it – so I make a lot of sourdough (but sometimes cakes & cookies with it, too). My favorite bread recipes usually come from the KA website (http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/bread) or I improvise & love to add meats and cheeses to the doughs – then we don’t even make sandwiches, we can just take a meat stuffed bun to-go.

  18. Pingback: What I Discovered/Learned/Found In Vancouver | Maurice Kaehler

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