Julian Street's French Brick-Oven Bread

Ingredients

  • ½ cup milk, scalded
  • cups water
  • tablespoons vegetable shortening or lard
  • 1 package active dry yeast or ½ ounce fresh yeast
  • tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Method

Combine the scalded milk with 1 cup boiling water and cool to lukewarm, then add the shortening. Combine the yeast with the remaining ¼ cup water, warmed to lukewarm, and 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Set aside.

Combine the flour, salt and remaining sugar in a large mixing bowl and blend well. Add the lukewarm milk mixture to the yeast mixture, then pour into the flour. Stir thoroughly, but don't knead. (The dough will be soft.) Place the dough in a well-greased large bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside in a warm place until it rises to double its bulk (about 1 hour). At the end of the rising time, divide the dough into 2 equal parts and form into long, thin rolls to fit the pot.

Presoak one or more clay pots, top and bottom, in water for 15 minutes.

Place a small piece of aluminum foil in the bottom of the pot to prevent sticking. Place the loaves in the pot or pots, cover with a lid, and allow to rise in a warm place to almost double its bulk.

Cover the pot(s) and place in a cold oven.

Set the oven temperature at 525 degrees.

Bake for 45 minutes, removing the lid for the last 5 minutes of baking to brown the crust.

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