Saturday, September 12, 2009

Why You Should Make This No-Knead Bread Recipe!

If you have never made bread before, you should try this recipe because it's easy and delicious. And if you have made bread, for a moment forget your previous knowledge and try this recipe.

Ok, so if you haven't heard about the NY Times no-knead bread recipe, it has been the subject of much debate...converts claim it is the easy and amazing recipe, purists believe dough needs to be kneaded. Now I have made a bit of bread and I think the tactile nature of baking bread is one of the best parts. The elasticity and smoothness of a ball of dough, it's potential to rise- it's wonderful to touch. Some many parts of cooking and baking is about using tools, not touching, not contaminating- but bread dough is about rolling, kneading, shaping, poking. That's how you know it's right!

And that being said, I AM A CONVERT. This no knead recipe is pretty fantastic. Here's the link to a video of making it and here's the link to the recipe. It's so easy, I'm going to show you how we did it and how you need to forget what you know about bread.

**This recipe has a 12-18 hour rise time so I recommend starting it on a Friday night so you can bake it Saturday morning and you need a cast iron pot and lid or dutch oven to bake it in. If you don't have one, check out this link for alternatives.**

The ingredients: bread flour, water, yeast and salt.

Measure the ingredients and mix into a very wet and sticky dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 12- 18 hours.

The dough will be very sticky and undeveloped. Forget about what you think bread dough should look like.

After 12 to 18 hours, the yeast has been fermenting and developing wonderful flavors. There are little bubbles all over the surface of the dough. And the dough is still really sticky.

Take the dough out onto a well floured surface, gather it together and fold it on itself twice. This isn't that easy because the dough is loose and runny. So...

I used lots of flour and this scraper to help with the folding. After letting it rest, shape it into a ball...

and using lots of flour, wrap it in towel and let rise for 2 more hours. Use LOTS of flour. And preheat the oven.Put the dutch oven or cast iron pot with the lid in oven to preheat for 3o min.

Our "dutch oven" was actually a bit more oval than round but I hoped it would work. I actually was pretty concerned at this point. I had the wrong shaped pan, the dough seemed really wet and sticky, and I wasn't sure this was going to turn out at all.

Sorry for the bad lighting here, but you can see the dough . I actually had a really hard time unsticking it from part of the towel. Into the oven it went with the lid on for 30 min. It was supposed to bake for 30 min with the lid on and then 15-30 min with the lid off.

When I took the lid off, it looked like this!! Yahoo!! I let it bake for a few more minutes uncovered but it was done! I think the oval shaped pot made the loaf a bit thinner than a round one which needed less baking time.

And I sliced it open, and it had the most beautiful, open crumb and the most crispy, delicious crust!!!

Here's one more delicious, crusty shot. It was best right away before the moisture inside migrated to the crust and softened it. But even then, it had terrific flavor!

So, please...bake this bread!!! You won't be disappointed!