Monday, November 1, 2010

No Knead Bread

I am sure that a lot of you have heard of this bread and have even made it yourselves.  I found this bread on so many different blogs that I finally bookmarked it to eventually try myself.  And then it sat in the recipe box on my computer, gathering dust (can computer files do that?) and basically going to waste.  In the past several weeks I have more than made up for that wasted time.  In three weeks I have made this recipe at least four or five times.  It is so good, so easy to put together, and I love how amazing my house smells when it is in the oven.

I used to have a bread maker sitting on my counter and I used it often in the five years I had it, but never once did I actually use it to make bread.  Every single time I used it, it was to make pizza dough.  The dough setting on that baby was so convenient, especially since I only had a hand mixer and a dinky little attach-to-my-blender food processor (we all know how that changed) neither of those were going to be options and making it entirely by hand wasn't as appealing as pressing a button.  It worked really well until I started needing to make more dough at a time.  The poor little thing couldn't handle it.  This happened right around the time I got my first standing mixer (joy!) and so the forlorn bread machine became as covered in literal dust as the aforementioned recipe.  Dusting is always last on my to-do list and so is never really done often enough, if that bothers you the dust rags are in the hall closet feel free to help yourself!

I eventually let my Mom adopt the neglected bread machine.  She has given it a happy home and from what I hear actually uses it as it is intended, to bake bread (how odd).  I am sure that they will bake many loaves and be happy together (with a household of eight at last count, I'm sure it will be many, many loaves).  I now had more free space on my counter as well as no excuse to keep me from trying this recipe. 

Four ingredients, a bowl, a spoon, and a lid.  That's it.  That's all you need.  Unless you count water as an ingredient, if you do then it's five ingredients.  Me?  I don't count water because I don't have to make sure I have it on hand.  It's always right there in the faucet, which I appreciate.  I love that this recipe can be made ahead.  Days ahead.  Weeks ahead.  That complex dinner you are attempting to make for company next weekend that you wanted to serve some fresh bread with?  Not a problem.  Throw this bread together Wednesday and don't stress out.  It will be there waiting for you, primping and making its flavors even more gorgeous, when you want to pull it out and slap it together into a loaf.  And if you can't wait days for it to be ready, that's not a problem because it is great right away also.  I think I need to go make some more.

No Knead White Bread
3 cups warm water
1 -1/2 tablespoons granulated fast acting yeast (2 packets)
1 -1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt
1 tablespoon sugar
6 -1/2 cups unsifted unbleached all purpose white flour

Add warm water, yeast, and salt to a large bowl.  (I actually use a pot because it has a lid but it doesn't seal completely and you are going to need to cover this but not seal it. They also make special plastic containers to let bread rise in, but that isn't necessary.)  Using a strong wooden spoon give it all a quick stir and then add your sugar and all your flour.  Mix it all together, stopping as soon as you don't have any dry patches.  You aren't kneading this so don't do more work then you have to.

Now cover it, but don't seal it or the extra gases won't escape, and let it rise on the counter at room temperature for about 2 hours or until it collapses or begins to flatten on top.  From this point on you can use the dough, but it is easier to work with if you let it rest in the fridge for around three hours (or up to 14 days!)

Around 45 minutes before you want to bake you loaf, sprinkle the surface of the container of dough with flour.  Pull up and cut off about a 1-pound piece of dough (about the size of a grapefruit) and with flour dusted hands begin stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom smoothly into your desired shape.  It doesn't matter if the bottom is funny looking, just make sure the top is smooth and place the dough onto a sheet of parchment paper to rise for 40 minutes.

Place a baking stone in the upper middle of your oven with an empty baking pan (NOT glass) on the rack below.  Start preheating your oven and baking stone to 450°F. If you don't have a baking stone, you can use a baking sheet, but you will not get the same crisp crust on the bottom. Get a cup of water ready to pour into the bottom pan, the steam it will create helps give the bread a nice crust.  I forgot to do this once and it was still good so I now consider this an optional step.

When your bread is done rising (it may not look like it rose much, don't worry it will in the oven), dust the loaf with a little flour.  With a very sharp knife or razor, slash the top of the bread to release some of the trapped gas, (which can otherwise deform your bread).  Slide the parchment paper and bread onto the hot baking stone. Quickly pour the water right into the pan underneath the baking stone and close the oven door. Bake for 25-30 minutes. 

Try and let the bread cool before cutting it.  It is very tempting to eat it right away but the texture is better once it has cooled and it is also easier to cut.  If you have leftover bread (unlikely) store it on a plate at room temperature uncovered with the cut side down. 

Keep the unused dough covered lightly in the fridge for up to 14 days.  When your dough is gone, it is recommended that you don't clean the container before mixing the next batch.  The remaining bits of dough will contribute flavor to the next batch, much like a sourdough starter does. (Of course, to go this route I'll need a container devoted to mixing bread, I kind of need my pot occasionally.)

adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

1 comment:

  1. This looks great. I love that it doesn't have to be kneaded, what a time saver. Looking at your delicious loaves, you'd never know the difference. By the way, I'm holding a CSN giveaway on my blog and you're welcome to come by and enter.


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