When I tell people that I have a baking blog, one question that invariably comes up is, “What’s it called?” After hearing the name “Needs Baked”, sometimes people ask if it’s “Kneads Baked”. In retrospect that would have been a great name. But unfortunately I wasn’t clever enough to put a pun on top of another linguistic reference. Perhaps the blog name didn’t need “knead”. And this recipe didn’t need kneading. 😉
After the great success of the skillet cookie, I thought it would be fun to make skillet bread. I wanted to make something savory instead of sweet, and I thought I didn’t have the right equipment to make bread. But I remembered that skillet based recipes are a thing, and I found this one.
It was super easy. There were very few ingredients and very few steps. However, I almost failed at the first one. I accidentally heated up the water too hot. I needed to let it cool down, so I put it in the fridge to cool. Apparently if the water is too hot it kills the yeast. That just meant waiting around a little bit for it to cool. I used the time to measure the other ingredients. I used sea salt instead of kosher salt. I didn’t have any rosemary. Well I did, but it turns out it had gone to that great spice rack in the sky. After doing some research, I went with thyme as a substitute. (I mean it’s right there in the song, so I figured it had to be okay. ;))
After all my previous issues with bowls, I made sure to use a very big bowl. I mixed it up per the directions. I covered it with plastic wrap and let it rise. After rising, I put it into an oiled skillet. That wasn’t as easy as it sounds. The recipe mentioned that the dough would be sticky. They weren’t kidding. It was super sticky. (Super sticky. Hmm. Wouldn’t that be an interesting super power?) It was hard to really shape it at all, but I manged to kinda shape it and plop it down in the skillet. (Yes, “plop” is also an industry term.) I covered it with a paper towel, and let it rise again.
I preheated the oven. Normally I take a while making recipes, so if I preheat the oven when they say I should, it gets preheated way before I need it. But the last step of this recipe took only a couple of minutes (including taking the pictures), so I had to wait a little while for it to be hot.
How easy was the last step? I drizzled a little bit more olive oil on top and slashed the dough. I then sprinkled some salt and thyme on top. (I got this awesome coarse salt a little while ago. It has these great big flakes. I’ve been using it a lot more than I thought I would. It comes in pretty handy.) That was it!
I then baked it for 35 minutes and it was done. Holy hats of Hercules it smelled good! I could smell it all the way upstairs as it was baking. It looked fantastic. Lovely color and texture. The toppings made it look even better. My wife said it looked like a loaf of bread you would buy in a bakery (which was a pretty nice thing to say).
I probably should have let it sit for a while, but I was eager to try it. I tried cutting it with a spatula because of the cast-iron skillet, but the bottom was too crusty. I took it out and used a bread knife which got the job done. It was still letting off steam as we cut into it. It was nice and crusty all around and soft and chewy in the middle.
It tasted as good as it looked. It had a yummy, crunchy crust and a nice soft inside. There was a little hint of flavor from the thyme on top and a little bit of saltiness. (Although some bites were fine, some had a little bit too much salt, but I think that was due to cutting big chunks the way I did.) It had a lovely almost buttery taste to it, which was amazing considering there was no butter in it. In fact, there were hardly any fats of any kind. There was just a little bit of olive oil on the pan, and a little bit of olive oil drizzled on top. I was quite impressed with how few ingredients and how little work went into making something so delicious.
I didn’t realize how late it was when I finished (that happens sometimes). I asked my wife if she wanted some, but she said she had already brushed her teeth. “Oh,” I said, somewhat sad that she wouldn’t get to taste it fresh out of the oven. But, she said, she could easily brush her teeth again afterwards. It was fresh-baked bread after all. She had already helped by doing what few dishes there were. I cleaned up all the flour. Yeah, there was flour everywhere. It was bread. It happens.
The first night I ate about a third of the loaf, it was so good. I just cut it up into wedges and chowed down. At some point I had to stop myself. The second night I did basically the same thing. After removing it from the fridge and getting it to room temperature, it seemed good, but I lightly toasted it. And it was delicious.
After doing some research into storage methods for bread, I had wrapped it in aluminum foil and stuck it in the fridge. There are different schools of thought and different tradeoffs (between crunch, moistness, and fighting mold). I figured this was a decent choice given the options I had.
It ended up not lasting long. It wasn’t because it went bad. The storage actually worked out fine. The “problem” was that it was so darn tasty, we ate up very quickly. But it was so good and so easy to make, I decided to make a second one soon after. By this point I had gotten some rosemary, so I used that this time. It was simple and delicious yet again. It was slightly different, but still amazing.
Making bread from scratch makes me think a little bit about civilization. It’s not a big deal that I made bread, but it’s not an everyday occurrence for your average citizen in an industrialized country. Most people in my situation never make bread anymore. A century or two ago, that would have been different. All the things which would have been mundane for people of that era (making bread, making a dress, etc.) are kinda a big deal when we do them today. By the same token, things that seem mundane to us, would likely amaze them. Wait, you’re talking to someone in Paris? And how did you reproduce all those pages of writing so quickly? Progress. 😉
And one more thing. If you’re paying attention to the tags, you might notice this bread is vegan. I didn’t even realize it until I saw the tag on the original and then I was like, oh yeah, I guess it is. I thought about the yeast for a second, but apparently yeast is vegan. This bread is also parve. Most vegan things are parve, and vice-versa, but it’s not always the case.
So there you go: delicious, savory, easy, vegan. It’s a nice recipe for bread if I’ve ever seen one. Well, it’s a nice recipe period. Do you have any favorite bread recipes? Any favorite easy bread recipes? Any favorite skillet bread recipes? This one was a blast, and I’d be happy to try out more. Just let me know.
Recipe courtesy of Baker Bettie.