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No-Knead Bread

September 3, 2008

I’ve been wanting to bake this bread for a long time. Possibly a year and a half or more. So, as soon as my dutch oven came in, I was ready to give it a shot. It is, in fact, the second thing I made in it. It is the famous No-Knead Bread recipe published in the New York Times, which I heard about in a round about sort of way, not directly from NYT. I love freshly baked bread. The kind with the crusty outer and soft and spongy inner. We have a local bakery here, but they are a bit on the pricey side (most good quality is) and I find their consistency in quality rather spotty. Sometimes the crust is way too crusty or the bread tastes unsalted and sometimes it’s great. So, if I could make artisan bread at a fraction of the cost with constant results and minimal effort, I think that would be just about the perfect solution.

The recipe is ridiculously easy. Seriously, a six year old could do it. I know this because as I was running late the night before last, I set Isabel with the task of mixing the ingredients or we wouldn’t have had bread with dinner the next night as I planned. (These photos happen to be from the first batch that I did, not the one Isabel did.)

You take three cups of flour, 1/4 tsp. yeast, 1 1/4 tsp salt and blend.

Then you stir in 1 5/8 c. of water. Stir until it is all moistened but still rough looking. This just takes a minute. Then you cover with plastic wrap or waxed paper and let sit for 12-20 hours.

After it has been sitting for nearly a day, it will be bubbly and yeasty smelling. Take it and fold it over itself twice.

Then let it rest for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, shape into a ball, flour a cotton towel very well (or you can sprinkle bran or cornmeal in place of flour) and snuggle the dough ball into the well-floured cotton towel. It needs to sit and rise for about another two hours. Towards the end of the rising period, preheat your oven to 450 degrees and stick your covered dutch oven into the oven as well, so that it can get scorching hot. When your oven and pot are hot, take the dough off the towel (at this point you will probably want to make sure your dough hasn’t stuck to the towel before you open your very hot oven and pot, otherwise you might be shaking a towel and the enclosed flour all over your kitchen to try to loosen it while your oven door is hanging open and the ambient heat is starting to burn your arms). When you have the dough ball free from the towel, open your oven and remove the lid to your pot (quickly to preserve heat) and dump the dough into the dutch oven seam side up. If you like, you can jiggle the dutch oven a bit to disperse the dough, but this step is really unnecessary and up to you; it will be a matter of aesthetics, not taste or function. Bake with the lid on for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 15 minutes or so. When it is fully baked and you can knock on the crust and it sounds hollow, remove from the pot to a wire rack. At this point I like to wrap in a clean towel, because it softens the crust just slightly to my idea of perfection.

When it’s no longer burning hot, slice and serve slathered with butter (or whatever else you’d like to smear or stack on it).

It is a recipe that I will try to make regularly. I say try, because we all start off with good intentions and then it all falls apart in the everyday rush to do whatever else needs to be done. I am very happy with the results. It is what it promises. A no-knead bread recipe that has a crusty crust and soft interior. I use an unbleached flour that still has the germ (or maybe bran) that I get from Azure Standard. It is touted to be a fine compromise between whole wheat and white flour. As such, it has a lighter texture than wheat, but a darker finished product than white. Lawrence and I are pleased with it, but the girls have said they like the white loaf from our local bakery more because of this. They did like this one, just liked the white better. Second, I have to play around with the salt a bit more. I used 1 1/4 tsp as the recipe calls for the first time, but it wasn’t salted enough for me. I used grey sea salt, so this might affect the saltiness. I tried 1 1/2 tsp the second time and it was a bit better. I will add probably 1/4 tsp the next time. I don’t like things overly salted, but I do like them properly salted and this wasn’t properly salted for my or the rest of the family’s palate.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Angeleen permalink
    September 3, 2008 7:49 pm

    OOOOOOOOO!!! I gotta try this!

    I have a non-enameled Lodge dutch oven that I LOVE (elk and beef stew…oh my goodness!) and I’m trying to make all of our bread now so… THANKS!

  2. Evelyn permalink
    September 3, 2008 8:05 pm

    It looks wonderful and so, so yummy!

  3. JesPlayin permalink
    September 3, 2008 11:19 pm

    The bread does look delicious! what a coincidence, I made bread today too, just not in a dutch oven…will have to try that another day.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog, and for your comments. I’m glad to hear another perspective on the homemade laundry detergent issue. I will try it, but I will definitely look into the bio-kleen as well.

  4. Angelina permalink
    September 5, 2008 9:52 pm

    I want to try this. Must get Dutch oven!

  5. Anonymous permalink
    September 11, 2008 4:16 am

    Lisa I have made this bread since about a week after my husband showed me the newly published article. I have changed it some at times and we do not eat bread now like we did then but man oh man is that a good one. Kalmata olives and rosemary were my favorite change. Be brave….it is not hard to add or change to this as long as you follow the basic rules of bread.

    I have lots of Le Crueset pots that we have purchased and I have made it in several.

    We have another nice recipe that is much better for rolls or small loaves for sandwiches that is pleasurable as well though not quite the texture. We use it regularly for the holidays.

    And if you like rye……OMG hang on Lisa……I have a fantastic recipe…….yup it takes TWO DAYS….but Wow. Really…. really really.

    Oh the things I can’t wait to share!

    Jana

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