My Motto

May the muffin rise to greet you, may your friends be always at your door, and until we meet again, warm a single-malt in the palm of your hand and make something homemade for someone you love.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

No-Knead Bread

“Bread is the king of the table and all else is merely the court that surrounds the king. The countries are the soup, the meat, the vegetables, the salad, but bread is king.”

~Louis Bromfield, American novelist  (1896-1956)

Apparently I was in Siberia in 2006 (well, juggling 3 teenagers and a full time job...might as well have been) and missed the memo on this bread.  Here's what Amanda Hesser writes about it:

"I'm not sure this Jim Lahey recipe needs an introduction.  After it was published in Mark Bittman's column, it inspired a tsunami of internet chatter, stayed on the Times's most-emailed list for weeks, and became the foundation for Lahey's first book.  It is easily the most famous recipe ever to run in the Times
If you happened to be living in Siberia at the time [Hello!] this recipe revolutionized home bread baking, because it does not require kneading or a baking stone, and mostly because it yields a loaf that looks and tastes in every way as if it were made by an artisan baker with a wood-fired oven [true!]."

Am I the only one who missed this?
I am not at all opposed to kneading bread.  In fact, I find it therapeutic and rewarding.  I didn't choose this recipe for the ease or novelty of it....I chose it because it gave me an excuse to use the new Le Creuset pan I just scored for a fraction of retail on Ebay!  You see, this bread is baked inside a covered Dutch oven.  The pan traps the steam as it cooks, making for a very rustic and crusty loaf.  This is yet another recipe from The Essential NY Times cookbook I've been yammering about for a couple weeks.  Remarkably, it does indeed taste as if it was baked in a wood fired oven.  You just need to think ahead and stir the dough ingredients together the night before.  It was fun to make, I loved the great crunchy crust,  and it makes fabulous garlic toast.

No-Knead Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 salt
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons cool water
cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

1. Combine the flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl.  Add the water and stir until blended; the dough will be shaggy and sticky.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap.
Warmest room in my house is the bathroom
Let the dough rest for at least 12 hours, preferably 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.  the dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles.
2. Lightly flour [I had to use a lot of flour] a work surface and place the dough on it; sprinkle it with more flour, and fold it over on itself once or twice.  
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape the dough into a ball [again, I used lots of flour and employed a pastry scraper to help pick up the dough].  Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal, put the dough seam side down the towel, and dust with more flour, bran, or cornmeal.  
Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.  when it is ready, the dough will be more than doubled in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least 30 minutes before the dough is ready, heat the oven to 450 degrees.  Put a 6- to 8-quart covered heavy pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in the oven as it heats [my pot is 9.5 quarts, but it worked].
5. when the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven.  Lift off the top towel, slide your hand under the bottom towel, and turn the dough over into the pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is OK. 
Shake the pot once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.
6. Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until the loaf is beautifully browned [15 was enough for my loaf].  
Cool on a rack.

In case you are is my recipe for grilled garlic bread.  This garlic spread can be used on Italian bread, ciabatta rolls, basically any bread you can spread it on and grill!

1/4 cup salted butter, softened
5 garlic cloves (or more!), run through garlic press or minced
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Cut butter into pieces into a small bowl. Add garlic and pepper and mash all together with a fork.
Spread on one side of slices of bread and grill on medium heat in a skillet.  Keep an eye on it, because you don't want the garlic to burn.  When they are perfectly browned, turn pieces over and turn burner down to low to keep bread warm until your dinner is ready.


Satrupa said...

The Bread looks perfectly baked .... luv the brown crust.


KDoucette said...

OMG Margaret, winner winner chicken dinner! Thank you oh so much for posting this, I can't wait to have the time to make it!! I have a ceramic apple baker that I got when I worked for Cookin The American Way and this will do nicely in it!! Wow!! Love it! Yum!! Hugz

Di said...

That looks great, especially the garlic toast. I could go for some of that right now (yes, at 5:40am). =) One of these days I will actually tackle this no-knead bread. It's been on my list for a long time.

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

@Satrupa: Thank you very much :-)
@Kris: You're welcome, and it's easy, you just have to think of it the day before.
@Di: Thanks Di, and I'm with you, I could eat garlic bread any time of day!

I'm Just Saying said...

Girl.. I just sent this recipe to my sis who took a class on baking the most amazing bread!!

This looks truly amazing and now you remind me to make that other cheesy bread since I am having guests tonight..

You really post the yummies..

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

@I'm just Saying: Great! I'm going to try that David Eyre pancake (the one you sent me the link to) soon too! And thank you...always happy when you stop by :-)

HMM said...

Did you use bread flour or all purpose when you made this bread? Thought I would ask before I attempt! This will be perfect with some homemade soup I have in the freezer for a special lunch for my husband this weekend! By the way, I am going to request the New York Times cookbook from the library to preview. You have convinced me! Slante!

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

@HMM: I used all-purpose flour, and the bread came out great! Glad you found your way here - nice to meet you!

Anonymous said...

I wonder, could you use whole wheat flour?

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

I wouldn't try it with this recipe. I do lots of bread baking and the whole grain loaves are trickier as it takes more kneading to develop the gluten.

I found this multigrain no-knead recipe for you, but I have not tried it.

Good luck! Let me know how it works for you!