Sunday, September 16, 2012

No-Knead Bread

It's not that I'm too lazy to knead dough, it's just that I don't want to. I'm pretty sure I'm not lazy because I didn't have to make this bread, but I did. And just because I wanted to see if it worked...not for any special occasion or anything. Would a lazy person do that? No, she wouldn't. Of course a lazy person would have folded the laundry by now, but that will get done in due time (I will run out of clean clothes eventually). Anyway, back to the bread. As you can see with your own eyes, this really works. It makes gorgeous, crusty, chewy bread with little effort.

Yield: 1 (1/2 pound) loaf

Time: about 1 ½ hours (plus 14 to 20 hours rising)

3 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 5/8 cups water
cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

1.      In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add the water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70º F.
2.      Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3.      Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4.      At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450º F.  Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats.
5.      When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is okay. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

barely adapted from The New York Times
(originally adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery)

ideas for variations
-  lemon, thyme and asiago
-  rosemary and roasted garlic
-  cranberry and orange
-  sharp cheddar (or any other strong cheese)
-  cinnamon-golden raisin
-  honey and rosemary
-  mixed herbs
-  caramelized onion
adding water to flour, yeast and salt
bubbly the next day (about 17 hours later)
dough on floured surface
dough folded over

I used a large silicone spatula.
15 minutes later...dough in a floured kitchen towel

Even though the instructions specifically said NOT to use
a terry cloth towel, that's the only kind of kitchen towel I have,
so I used it just to see what would happen for everyone else out
there who only has terry cloth kitchen towels (you're welcome).
Yes, it stuck a little. But if you scroll down two photos, you'll see
those little imperfections on top just added character.
2 hours later
dough in pot

You don't need to grease the pot, the bread pops right out.
You can see those imperfections on top that I was talking
about from the towel sticking to the dough. Big deal.
baked for 30 minutes (with lid)
baked for 15 more minutes (with no lid)
no knead bread, cooling on rack
cut in half

As you can see, my loaf is kind of flat and wide. That's just
because of the size/shape of my pot. Next time I'll try one
that's a little narrower and bake a smaller, taller loaf.

If you like this post, check out the almost-no-knead baguette.
Remember it says almost no knead (don't be lazy).

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