You can call me Edith (weizenwind) wrote in vegancooking,
You can call me Edith

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.

    Recipe: No-Knead Bread

    Published: November 8, 2006

    Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
    Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising
    The Minimalist: The Secret of Great Bread: Let Time Do the Work (November 8, 2006)

    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.
  • Tags: breads, breads-wholemeal/wholewheat
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