So... I'm applying to medical school this summer! I started working on a draft of my personal statement a few weeks ago just to get a head start, but when I finished it, I felt like something was still missing. It was essentially my CV but with a rationale behind each activity... so I guess it had everything it needed. But I realized this weekend that what it was missing was me. I needed it to be more passionate, more transparent with respect to who I really am as a person. I decided to throw all scientific endeavors aside and start writing from the heart to see where it led me. Sure enough, I found myself vividly describing the moment I take this bread loaf out of the oven. And soon I was inundated with ideas and analogies and words. It took me weeks to write the first version, and only a mere couple of hours to write this one. I think that in itself shows how much more passion I spilled into my writing this time around. And it's true! I'm passionate about cooking. I'm passionate about sharing my cooking. Just like how I'm passionate about providing healthcare. It might be a lengthy analogy to pull off, but it really is the most genuine way for me to describe how I feel towards being a physician. So, I'm excited! But writing it made me realize that I haven't yet posted this recipe to the blog! And it's so easy! Really! Baking bread sounds intimidating, but if you're going to start somewhere, you should start with this recipe! No kneading by hand necessary (unless you don't have an electric mixer) and you can literally let the dough rise all day while you're at work! Just put in about an hour once you get home and voila, you have yourself a bakery-quality (and a very high quality at that!) loaf of bread! This is probably my most anticipated blog post yet! Every time I bake this bread I get people asking for the recipe. And every time I bake this bread it's completely gone before it even gets to room temperature. It's actually an amazing loaf of bread. The crust is amazing, the texture is amazing, and the flavor is amazing. Plus, I like to serve it with baked brie, which makes it even more amazing! This recipe is sure to impress dinner guests. Just give it a try!!

italian bread loaf with baked brie

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 cups flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
Dutch oven
1 triangle of brie
1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Mix the yeast with warm water and let sit for five minutes in a warm spot until bubbly. Meanwhile, measure four cups of flour and add to a standing mixer bowl. Manually stir in the salt to distribute well, then pour the yeast water over the flour. Mix and knead with the dough hook for about 10 minutes on medium speed. Alternatively, you can mix the yeast water and flour with a wooden spoon and knead on a floured surface for about 10 minutes. When the dough is smooth and elastic, it's ready. Simply coat a bowl with cooking spray or olive oil, place the dough in the bowl, cover with a lid also coated with cooking spray or olive oil, and let rise for at least 4 hours while you sip your coffee and read the newspaper or the whole day while you're at work. When you're ready to bake, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and shape into an oval. It'll be sticky to the touch,  but try not to work with it too much or add too much flour during shaping- the more you mess with the dough, the less amazing the center texture will be. Gently pat or roll the oval out into a thick rectangle, about a foot long and ten inches wide. Fold one long end lengthwise towards the middle and the other long end on top of that one, like you're folding a letter. Turn over so that the crease is on the bottom and let rise for 30-45 minutes. Meanwhile, heat your over to 475 degrees and place your Dutch oven in the warm oven while the bread rises. Using a Dutch oven is really important for this recipe. So important that I actually listed it as an ingredient! If you want the great crust, you have to bake the bread in a ceramic dish with a lid to keep in the moisture. Make sure your dutch oven lid can withstand the heat though! The high heat is important too for the crispy crust. You can probably lower it to 450 if your lid handle will only go that high, but any lower will compromise your crust! After 45 minutes of rising and heating, carefully remove your Dutch oven from the oven and sprinkle a light coating of flower on the bottom of the ceramic dish. Carefully slice the top of your bread round to allow the bread to expand while it bakes and place the dough in the Dutch oven, taking care not to burn yourself. Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes until the top just begins to turn dark brown. It should sound hollow when you tap it after baking. While the bread cools just a bit before cutting, cover your brie triangle with the chopped garlic and place in the oven in a baking dish at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until the cheese has melted. Slice your warm bread, serve, and ENJOY!!!

Coffee time:) I know it's not a coffee post... but the mug gifted to me by some sweet friends and the beautiful French press just had to be included:)

This is what the dough will look like after rising! Super bubbly!

And a little sticky...

Roll it out...

Fold it up...

Let it rise...

And enjoy!


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