November 28th, 2008

Roly Poly

Ridiculously easy bread

You've probably heard about this bread, and/or seen links to it. It's that "no-knead" bread everyone in food-dom is going on about these days. And it really is as good as the hype. And embarrassingly easy.

I cut this too early (thus the smear on the knife and the slight darkness on part of the slice where the bread got a little compacted), but look at that crumb!

Sold yet? Good. Start here for an easy-to-follow, picture-heavy tutorial. Then go here, print out the short, simple version of a nearly identical recipe (Cook's Illustrated has the version Nancy uses, but suddenly they want a very involved membership even to view it. I haven't tried this version without the beer and vinegar, but I'm sure it's also quite good. Remember to double all amounts if you're wise enough to follow Nancy's advice to make a double batch), and get rolling.

Notes from me:

  • You need a large, heavy, lidded pot that can handle heat of at least 450F. An enameled cast iron Dutch oven is ideal, but you can use other, similar bakeware. If it has a plastic handle, though, make sure it can take heat that high without melting! I'm using a 7-qt. enameled Martha Stewart round "casserole" with lid, which is working great, and I bet you could get a smoking deal on one at Macy's tomorrow.

  • I like to use freshly ground flour in my baking, so I've been using 5-8 oz. of this out of the 30 oz. of flour required for a double batch. Works great, but be forewarned that it makes the bread brown/burn faster. Reduce the cooking time and keep a close eye on it as it bakes. This latest loaf I did a preheat/initial bake time of 450 and then dropped it to 375 for 20 minutes uncovered, resulting in the glorious, non-burned crust you see above.

  • Speaking of the crust, you get to hear it crackle as it cools. It's fantastic.

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