A few years ago I became really interested in making my own bread. I received this beautiful book from a friend and was compelled to try every recipe, well, except for puff pastry. But the cinnamon rolls, challah, and dark pumpernickel-raisin bread – they were delicious and I was hooked. There is something so satisfying about the end result.
But homemade bread is a lot of work and when life picks up and I don’t have time to wait on several rounds of rising dough, I turn to “No-Knead” bread. I’m sure you’ve heard about it by now, the master recipe was written up years ago in the New York Times and featured over and over again on the internet and Mother Earth News magazine (which is where I discovered it). But if you haven’t actually tried making it yet, I highly recommend it. It’s tasty and rewarding, crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside. And the best part is that it’s easy. Here’s the recipe and what I do.
Recipe: No-Knead Bread
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed
(Around 9 or 10 pm at night) 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.
(The next day when we get home from work, around 4pm) 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.
(Around 6pm) 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’s 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.
Let it cool on a wire rack – if you can wait (I usually can’t).
My favorite summer dinner – a salad and homemade bread with butter, radishes and sea salt.
If you are intrigued by this no-knead method, but aren’t a fan of white flour, I highly recommend buying Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François’s book Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day because they provide healthy recipes made with less white flour, lower refined sugars and gluten free options. I should also mention that the Fair Food Farm Stand in the Terminal Market sells a variety of different flours.
Try it this weekend!