Monday, February 25, 2013

No-Knead Crusty Bread

"If this works, I will flip out!" I tell my husband as I set the loosely-covered bowl on the countertop before heading to bed for the night.

I don't believe that it will.

But we're giving it a try anyhow, because, well, what have we to lose? A couple cups of flour, some salt, yeast, and water and a night's sleep of time to proof? I can deal with that.

The next morning, I surveyed the damage. A slight bulge to the plastic wrap covering the bowl, bubbles on the surface, and a doubling rise -- the yeast has been hard at work despite the cold water dumped dubiously in the night before.

All that now remains is to bake it.
With flour-encrusted hands, I plop the dough into a hot pan and lid it. In 20 minutes, a heavenly aroma perfumes the air, and my thoughts are dancing with dreams of crusty, bakery-style bread. And in 30 minutes, I got to peek at my loaf as I removed the lid, but still had to wait another agonizing 10 minutes. After 40 minutes, the moment of truth had arrived.

There in my French oven lay a perfectly-crusted, bakery beautiful, rustic loaf of bread!

And, true to my word, I flipped out.

It went against every breadmaking instinct I have. No kneading, no proofing yeast, no warm water to activate things, no long second rise. And, best of all, hardly any work on my part.

No, best of all, it was amazing!
The crisp-but-not-too-thick crust, the perfect texture and flavor.
I'm actually still a little speechless about it, to tell the truth.

This recipe is everywhere by now -- I'm late to the game, but I know I'm not the only one. I found this recipe via Simply So Good. Head over there for more beautiful pictures, ideas about how to change it up, and a TON of good information on this method, including a very helpful FAQ section.

Here's my take, to add to the many voices already singing a chorus of praises for this simple method:

No-Knead Crusty Bread

3 c. flour (I've only tried unbleached all-purpose, because that's what I always have around)
1 3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. yeast
1 1/2 c. cool water
a sprinkling of cornmeal

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, salt, yeast, and water. I use a spatula, but a wooden spoon would probably suffice. One thoroughly combined, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and set aside in a draft-free spot for 12 - 24 hours. Don't refrigerate.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 450ยบ. Place a heavy metal pot with a tightly-fitting lid -- I use my LeCreuset 5.5 qt. French Oven, but an unenameled Dutch oven or other heavy, lidded pot will also work) in the oven as it heats, and set a timer for 20 minutes. While you wait for the oven and pot to heat, punch down the dough and shape into a shaggy round, using plenty of flour for your hands and the counter, as the dough will be very wet and sticky. Alternately, generously flour a banneton and scoop your dough into it to shape without any thought whatsoever.
After 20 minutes have passed, pull the pot out of the oven, and grab some cornmeal. Dust the bottom of the pot with cornmeal, and carefully (so you don't burn yourself on the HOT pot) place your dough in on top of the cornmeal.
Replace the lid, and put it all back in the oven for 30 minutes. Don't peek.
After 30 minutes, unveil your masterpiece. Let bake, uncovered for another 10 minutes. Carefully remove from oven and transfer loaf to a wire rack to cool. (Use oven mitts, my children!) Slice as desired, or just rip off hunks as you whip together another batch of dough so you can make the magic happen again tomorrow!

1 comment :

  1. I only had bleached flour and it worked amazing! I also don't have a french oven thingy so I used the insert from a crockpot and the glass lid.


Thanks for your comment. Let's keep things friendly!