Saturday, October 4, 2008

Week 2: No Knead Bread

I love bread! I admit I am a carb addict and love hot out of the oven bread that practically burns your fingers as you break it apart and slather the piece with lots and lots of butter! But, I seem to have a fear of kneading bread! Or at least I think it seems like it is way too much work to make your own fresh homemade bread, let it rise, punch it down, knead it, let it rise, punch it down, etc. So... when I came across this recipe for a no-knead bread, I was ready to give it a try. Scott and I had actually heard about this recipe first from his cousin, Andy, who made it daily. Then my trusty Williams Sonoma catalog came in the mail and there it was, the perfect no-knead bread recipe! Okay I guess the New York Times published this recipe ages ago and it was all the rage, but I didn't get on the bandwagon until this year. This bread comes out absolutely beautiful, crispy on the outside, soft and yummy on the inside! After my first attempt, I thought I could go into business selling bread to local restaurants since it was THE best bread I had ever had or at least made. So here is my version of this recipe.

No-Knead Bread:

  • 3 cups flour (experiment with mixtures of all-purpose, whole wheat, etc.)

  • 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast (in the packets) Yes, I know there is barely any yeast!

  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt

  • 1 5/8 cups warm water (105 degrees)

  • Cornmeal as needed

  • Optional: chopped fresh or dry herbs, olives, feta cheese, lemon zest (or anything you like)

Special items needed: candy thermometer, cast iron dutch oven or oven safe container with a lid

Step 1: In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast, salt, and herbs if desired.

Step 2: Add warm water and blend until sticky. I live in Southern California and it is dry, so I add a little extra water until it is sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature.

Step 3: Let rest for 12 to 18 hours! I know that is forever, but just let it do its thing. If I want bread for dinner the next day, I usually start the process the night before just before I go to bed. It will be ready for you the next day around dinner time.

Step 4: Place dough on a floured surface, sprinkle with a little additional flour and fold it over on itself once, then twice. That’s it! Pick it up and put it back in the bowl, cover again, and let rest for 15 minutes. See no kneading required! I like it.

Step 5: Get a cookie sheet out and place a towel on it (a smooth towel works best without cloth fibers sticking out) and sprinkle corn meal on the bottom. I prefer white corn meal, which is a whole other story and will write a Blog about various corn meal options in the future.

Step 6: After the dough has had its little rest. Take it out and place it on the floured surface again and just move it around a little to try and shape it, sorta. I just try and get it into a round-ish shape. Place the dough on the towel with corn meal, sprinkle the top with a little more corn meal, and fold over the towel to cover the dough. Let rest for 2 hours.

Step 7: About 30 minutes before I bake the dough, I turn on the oven to 450 degrees. At about 10 minutes before you are ready, put your cast iron Dutch oven in to warm up. I highly recommend a cast iron Dutch oven for baking a nice and crispy bread.

Step 8: Take out the cast iron Dutch oven, remove the lid, and now pick up the dough in the towel and sorta scoot the dough into the Dutch oven. I try to center it best I can. Replace the lid and put it in the oven.

Step 9: Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and test the bread by tapping it. You want to hear a hollow-ish sound to know if it is done. I usually place it in for another 10-15 minutes without the lid to help brown the top. I check it every 5 minutes or so. You don’t want to over cook the bottom of the loaf so, as soon as it is done and sounds hollow or has a thud sound take it out.

Step 10: I remove it right away from the cast iron since it will continue to cook and place the loaf on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Then tear into the loaf, burn your fingers in the process, add butter, and eat piping hot bread!! It is yummy. That’s it! Pretty easy.

Eat & enjoy! I find there is little effort in making the bread and you just need to plan your timing of when you want to bake it. You just need to give yourself about 3 hours total the next day to do the folding, resting, and baking. (Most of that is passive and you just need to be around the house) I found that it is best the day you make the bread and will keep crisp on the outside. If you store it, the follow day the crust has softened, but you can always just toast it again. The dough does not rise a ton, hey look, you only put 1/4 teaspoon of yeast in there, so it does pretty well with little yeast! We also tried using cast iron loaf pans and it worked great. There was no lid on the loaf pans, but seemed to rise nicely and still tasted great. Experiment, test, and try various flours, herbs, etc. I have made this so many times that you can do almost anything and it will still come out nice. Have fun and enjoy! See no kneading required!

Recipe credit to: Williams Sonoma. Click here to view their recipe. Great site by the way!


Becca said...

Thanks for sharing this recipe. I love bread and should really make my own more often.

Greg said...

Looks good & sounds interesting. I didn't know good knead-free bread was really possible.


Greg said...

Hey I mentioned your blog in my latest post.

Thanks again!