The food blog world is abuzz with this method of making wonderful artisinal bread. I first caught the news at T.W. Baritt’s Culinary Types blog when the NY times featured a Mark Bittman article on “The Secret of Great Bread: Let time do the Work”. The method detailed here is so easy that he said an ambitious 8 yr old could master this; it requires no kneading, nada, not a single squeeze! Now this is perfect for a person like me who enjoys crusty, tasty bread but alas, have small weak puny hands. The piece came out the 8th of November and I have tucked away the recipe somewhere thinking I will make it soon. Then before Thanksgiving, the bread began popping up on a lot of food blogs with the authors hailing much success with the process. This got me all excited so that same evening I made the dough which took me all but 10 minutes; I baked a crusty, tasty bread the next day ! And you know what the clincher is; I have never made bread before, not from scratch, not even from a bread machine. This method is so amazing and I encourage every bread lover out there to try it. A lot of experienced bakers say it is an ancient technique, but I think with all the advances in technology it somehow got lost in time. Now though, I think it has made a comeback and has sparked a bread making revolution! Just to name a few :
Brilynn over at Jumbo Empanadas is having a bread baking success
McAuliflower at Brownie Points hails it as a revolution
Slashfood has a list of successful foodies who have caught the no-knead bug
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.
1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups 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 70 degrees.
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 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. 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 O.K. 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.
Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.
The video that accompanied this recipe, has the water at 1 ½ cup instead of 1 5/8 cup. I used 1 ½ cup and added water a tablespoon at a time until all the flour got combined.
Also, because there was a lot of complaint about blandness in the bread from the food blogs, I upped the salt to 1 ¾ tsp and the taste was perfect for me. I did not have an enameled cast iron pot big enough for the loaf, so I use my All Clad stock pot which yielded great results in my opinion. And a quick note, the crust continuous to harden as the bread cools down but if you are anything like me and “hungry” hubby you cannot wait for it to be cool enough before slicing into it. In any case 30 minutes on a cooling rack should be good J.