fontas food

eating my way through suburbia

Monday, October 08, 2007

Recipe: No Knead Bread

Sept. 24, 2007

No cruel hoaxes here! This is, without a doubt, the easiest bread in the world to make and yet the end product tastes like centuries of baking history went into it...

Here is a picture of my second loaf (even better than the first). It's day-old at this point but everyone should see the crumb:


The crust is crisp yet chewy and it shatters when you first bite into it. As the bread cools when it's first out of the oven, you can hear the crust crackling. < !!!> My only complaint is a tough-to-slice bottom crust.

At any rate, on to the how-to's...

The NY Times article:

(make sure you watch the fact, you can watch the video without reading the article!)

The recipe:

(except only use 1.5 cups of water and use extra salt...if you watch the video, you will notice the discrepancy between what Bittman's recipe says and what Jim Lahey does)

Other things that are crucial knowledge..."instant yeast" is also called "bread machine yeast". I don't have any of that but I did have fresh compressed yeast, so I figured out an equivalent and dissolved the yeast in the water. Apparently, active dry yeast will work as well too, using 1/3 tsp. proofed ahead of time.

And just in case anyone doesn't have a NY Times login, here is the recipe I've been using:

* 3 cups of flour (just scooped out of the bin, not spooned into the cup and then levelled...apparently, this can make a difference of a substantial number of grams in the amount of flour used)
* 2-3 tsp. salt (okay, I confess, I didn't measure this. I just poured what looked like a good bit into the palm of my hand and then added it)
* 1/4 of a 17g cube of fresh compressed yeast (or, if you prefer, 1/4 tsp. of instant yeast or 1/3 tsp. active dry yeast, proofed in some of the water)
* 1.5 cups water (for my first loaf, I used 1/2 cup of milk in which the yeast was dissolved for some of the water and for my second loaf, I used 1.5 cups of potato water)

Mix all the dry ingredients up until well combined. Add the water and stir until everything is wet. The article says you'll have a "shaggy" dough and that's exactly what you end up with.

Cover the bowl with SaranWrap (or some other brand) and leave it somewhere where it will be 70 degrees for 12-18 hours.

When the time is up, dump the dough out onto a floured surface and form it into a boule by folding in the edges. Put the dough, seam-side down, on a clean cotton cloth that has been covered by cornmeal (or wheat bran or something). Sprinkle the top with more cornmeal and then cover with the cloth.

(Watching the video for that part makes it all much easier.)

Let it rest for 2 hours.

Thirty minutes before that 2 hours is up, put a heavy, lidded pot into the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. I've been using my enamelled cast iron braising pan (a very pretty red one, I might add) but I have heard of people using Pyrex and/or corningware. When the oven comes to temperature, take the pot out, de-lid it, and flip the dough into the pot. Cover and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.

When the 30 minutes is up, remove the lid and continue to bake it for 15-30 minutes. then it's done.

My first loaf was cooked hatless for 15 minutes and was slightly underdone. The second loaf was cooked for 20 minutes and was perfect.

A note about timing, since I'm at home, I've been able to bake in the morning. That means I mix the dough in mid-afternoon and do the turning out at around 8 in the morning.

And that's it! Bittman doesn't really go into the science of why it works, just that "time does the work for you".


Blogger JRB said...

It just occurred to me -- how does the yeast work without sugar...?

November 21, 2007 at 4:04 p.m.  
Blogger JRB said...

Ah -- really long fermentation.

November 21, 2007 at 4:11 p.m.  

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