All of you remember the No-knead bread revolution that started last year when Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery revealed that the secret to great artisan bread is within the reach of the average home cook or even a four-year old. Having never made bread in my life before this (and that includes the bread machine) , I was highly doubtful that I could pull this off – but surprisingly I did and I had made the No-Knead Bread (NKB) a couple of times after that.
In the latest issue of Cook’s Illustrated (Jan/Feb 2008), they declared that they have developed a way to improve on the flavor and shape of Lahey’s NKB which they called No-Knead Bread 2.0 Personally, I thought Lahey’s version was pretty good, so I was wondering what else can be done to improve it? For the flavor issue, CI used lager which had the same yeast attributes found in bread and used less water which made the dough easier to form into a ball.
The resulting bread was mighty tasty but the crumb was closer knit unlike the original where it was perfectly airy.
I’m sorry for the lack of pictures, as I made this during a dinner party, the vultures descended before I was able to get a close-up of the sliced bread.
Just for giggles and because we did not want to waste beer, I tried ale in my next bread. Uh…the crumb was really close, the bread was heavy – it was tasty but it was as hard as a rock by day 2.
So, would I try this version again. No. I’d go with Lahey’s recipe – besides the times when I want to make this bread did not necessarily coincide with the time the “Hungry” Hubby might want to have a beer. The HH always says “Thou shalt not waste beer in this house.”
However, I would employ the method in the CI version of letting the dough rest, seam side down on top of parchment paper on a 10-inch skillet. This does make transferring the dough to a preheated Dutch oven easier. You do have to slash the top though.
No-Knead Bread 2.0
From Cook’s Illustrated Jan/Feb 2008
3 cups (15 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting work surface
¼ tsp instant yeast
1 ½ tsp table salt
¾ cup plus 2 tbsp water (7 ounces), at room temperature
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp (3oz) mild-flavored lager
1 tbsp white vinegar
Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.
Lay a 12-by 18 inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into a ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough seam side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.
About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack , and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and using a razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, ½-inch deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to rat out the “Hungry” Hubby’s anal-retentive, mild OCD nature when it comes to kitchen cleanliness. Boy, do the Reynolds people love him! His motto is “the less to clean up, the better”.
Can you all imagine the look on his face whenever I tell him I’m about to fry or sauté something? He’d rather order take-out than have me cook just to avoid oil splatters.
I do admit his little trick does help especially when we have dinner guests coming over.