Monday, February 8, 2010

New York Times No Knead Bread

Last January the New York Times published a No Knead Bread recipe that everyone went crazy over.  Strike that!  Now that I'm checking the link, it was published way back in November 2006.  My time line is way off, I could have sworn it was just last year when people were talking about it all over the internet.  Wow.  Anyway, I didn't make the recipe when I first heard about it because I didn't have a dutch oven or any other covered cooking vessel that was large enough.  When I received a dutch oven for Christmas I didn't waste any time making this bread and have made it multiple times since.

I don't have much experience with yeast other than in the bread machine and pizza dough.  I can see why people are so enamored with this recipe because it's ridiculously easy and delicious, you just have to wait for the dough to develop.  It's taste like artisan bread you would get from a good bakery.  After it's cooled completely, and you finally cut into it, and have a taste, you'll find the crust to be crispy and the inside chewy.  It's absolutely addicting.

Couple of things to note: 
  1. When you're transferring the dough out of the bowl, notice the beautiful dough web.  It looks like it's straight out of an episode of Baking with Julia
  2. When you get to the step when you're putting the dough on a floured towel, flour it VERY liberally.  When I first made it, the dough "ate" through the flour and made the towel damp, creating a sticky mess.  I tried scraping off as much dough as I could, but I still had to send the towel through the wash twice.
  3. This bread "sings" after you take it out of the oven.  It crackles noisily as it cools down.
  4. This recipe is endlessly adaptable.  I look forward to experimenting with different flours and flavor combinations like roasted garlic and herb or cinnamon and raisin.

These are the bubbles you'll see after you've waited patiently and the dough is ready.

Look at this lacy goodness!

Seriously, this is bread making for dummies, you really can't mess it up because the hands on work is so minimal.

No-Knead Bread

Adapted from Jim Lahey at the Sullivan Street Bakery via Mark Bittman at New York Times
Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
1 5/8 cups water
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 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. 

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