No-Knead Bread

I knew that if I was going to have a food blog, this no-knead bread would show up soon.  Have you heard of it?  After the recipe appeared in Mark Bittman’s New York Times column in 2006, it quickly became a phenomenon with bakers and bloggers everywhere.


I didn’t pay much attention to the craze at the time, because I wasn’t too confident with baking bread, and I didn’t think I had anything to bake it in.  When I got myself a pot and gave it a try in 2010, I wondered what had taken me so long.  It turns out that you don’t have to be an experienced bread baker to make this recipe work.  Not only will it work, it will bake into possibly the best bread you’ve ever had.  It has a golden, crackly crust with a soft and slightly chewy interior.  The inside is full of holes that are perfect for dipping in vinegar or sopping up pasta sauce.  And it makes a fantastic grilled cheese sandwich.

The best thing I’ve learned about this bread is that it really can’t be messed up.  Want bread for dinner but don’t have twelve hours to let it sit?  Start it in the morning and let it sit eight hours.  Don’t have bread flour?  Use all-purpose flour.  Want to add whole-grain goodness?  Mix in some whole wheat pastry flour.  The pretty ball of dough turned into a weird glob when it was moved into the pot?  It will turn into a beautifully rustic loaf of bread.

Although this recipe is simple, you do need to plan ahead.  The dough requires no kneading, but it takes several hours for the yeast to do its thing.  It’s best to start it at night and bake it in the afternoon the next day.  When I decided to try this recipe the first time, I found this step-by-step guide from Jaden at Steamy Kitchen to be very helpful.  She and her little helper show how easy it is to make this bread at home.

No Knead Bread
Makes 1 1 ½ pound loaf

  • 3 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting    
  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups warm water*
  1. In a large bowl combine the flour, yeast and salt. Add the water, and stir until combined.  The dough will be shaggy and messy.  You might want to add more water because it will seem pretty dry, but don’t do it.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it all rest for 12 to 15 hours at room temperature.  As you check on the mixture every couple hours, it will transform into a thick, wet dough dotted with bubbles.
  2. Line the bottom of a medium mixing bowl with a dish towel that isn’t terry cloth.  Sprinkle about two tablespoons of flour into the bottom and up sides of the cloth-lined bowl and set aside.  When you’re ready to form the dough, lightly flour a surface and dump the dough onto it.  Jaden suggests that to avoid working too much flour into the dough,  wet your hands wet instead of flouring them and it works for me.  Quickly shape the dough into a ball and place it seam-side down in the prepared bowl and cover.  Let it rise about two hours or until it has doubled in size.
  3. About 30 minutes before the dough is ready, line the bottom of an oven-safe Dutch oven with parchment paper.  Place the pot inside the oven and preheat it to 450 degrees.  When the dough is ready, carefully remove the hot pan from the oven.  Lightly mist the inside of the pot with cooking spray.  Using the towel, lift the dough from the bowl and ease it seam-side up into the pan.  You may need to shake the pan a little so the dough moves to the center.  Place the covered pot back in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 15-30 minutes.  Mine never takes longer than 15 minutes.  It will be golden brown and have an internal temperature of 210 degrees when done.
  4. Resist the urge to cut into it right away.  Let it cool about 30 minutes and enjoy!

Notes

* The original recipe uses 1 5/8 cups water, but I find that to make a dough that is much too wet.  Decreasing it just two tablespoons made it much easier to work with.

Source:  The New York Times recipe, which was adapted from Jim Lahey

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Comments

  1. That’s good stuff right there. Makes dandy garlic bread, too. And you couldn’t ask for a better piece of bread with which to wipe your gumbo bowl!

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