Sunday, June 5, 2011

No-Knead Bread

No-Knead Bread
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

OK – so you want to make great bread. This is the recipe!

This crusty surface is something I have never been able to achieve until now. The trick was a cast iron pot. Not just any pot…

I swear my Le Creuset French Oven is magic. I’ve had this pot since the eighties and everything that has come out of it has been astonishing. This bread was no exception and when baked in the French Oven it helps to create an exquisite crust. No wonder I can give up everything when I am watching my caloric intake except bread.

I’ve looked at dozens of French and Sourdough bread recipes and even had a lesson or two in my pastry classes but this recipe is easy and the bread equally as good.

It takes a long time rising but little of your own time. Just plan your time well because this recipe needs to rise 20 hours.

When you taste this bread – which needs no butter by the way – you’ll never buy a loaf again…and you will probably eat the whole thing – I did!

Just this once, it’s nice not to have anyone to share with!

Bon Appetit!

3 cups bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed
1 3/4 Cups water

In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt.

Add water unless you dilute the yeast - then you can skip ¼ cup. Stir until blended. Dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest about 18 hours at warm room temperature.

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.

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.

At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot 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. Mine was perfect in 15.

Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.