Spanish Style Part 2: No-Knead Bread From Scratch? No, Hell Hasn't Frozen Over...It's Just A Brilliant Idea

Monday, April 19, 2010

To go with the insanely flavorful meal Damilya made the most awesome fresh bread from scratch. Repeat: from scratch. I told her I desperately needed the recipe so I could share it with you all, and here it is!

She got it from a New York Times article by Mark Bittman back in November about a baking technique devised by Jim Lahey from Sullivan Street Bakery in Manhattan that requires no kneading! Yes, no kneading bread! It's perhaps the easiest bread recipe in the history of bread making quite frankly, as all you need to do is mix the ingredients at the beginning and then just leave it alone for quite literally a day. Just neatly wrapped in a kitchen towel, off to the side of your kitchen while you sleep, eat, and go about your normal day for up to a full 24 hours!

And the baking technique is interesting as well, as it's baked not on a stone or baking sheet, but inside a heavy cast iron pot or Dutch oven! This gives the bread a wonderful texture that you will just fall in love with. To read the full article check out this link. And now...on to the 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

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.

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 to bake, 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.

Yields one 1½-pound loaf.

Damilya's Notes:

1. King Arthur Flour is a good quality bread flour. For White Flour, be sure to get unbleached flour FOR BREAD. If you want to make wheat bread, use a mixture of white and wheat. If you make 100% wheat, the bread may be too dense and heavy. I use roughly one cup of wheat flour and two cups of white. You can obviously change the proportions. But do so at your peril!!!

2. I use 2 teaspoons of salt, which is more than what the recipe calls for.

3. I use a tad more than a 1/4 teaspoon of yeast. It gives the dough an airier, lighter texture, which I like. I use a tad more water than the recipe calls for. I find it makes the loaf lighter.

4. Any additions (ie: caraway seeds, rosemary, raisins, nuts etc.) should be added at the beginning, although you could add them in between the first and second rise. I add in a half cup of ground flax seed. It gives the bread more dietary fibre for greater "regularity." Flax seed is also rich in omega fats. This extra ingredient requires more water to be added to absorb the flour and flax seed.

5. I let the bread dough stand for the first rise 16-18 hours, although as little as 12 hours is also fine and as much is 24 hours is ok. I let it stand for 2-3 hours for the second rise, but it can be less -- or more.

6. I occasionally omit the intermediary step of letting the bread sit for 15 minutes with saran wrap over it. I'm not sure the point of it. If anyone figures it out, let me know!

7. The absolute key to baking is to make sure the pot is ultra hot. Be sure to follow the directions carefully about heating the pot in the oven for 30 minutes with lid on, BEFORE you put the bread in. This is essential.

8. I bake the bread for 30 minutes with the lid on, and only 10-15 minutes with the lid off. Every oven is different.

9. A hint about clean up. Remember that water and flour makes paste. So when you clean up, it's easier if you wash the bowl in cold water, not hot water. It took me a while to figure that one out!

10. This is a very forgiving recipe. You do not need to be obsessively accurate (my favorite kind of recipe!) I remain on stand-by for any bread consults you might need! Happy Baking!!!

Need more help? Check out this youtube video on how to make this bread:

Now go make this! You will thank me later!

1 comment:

Damilya said...

Just a correction: I didn't write the notes. The credits go to Dr. Sara Melzer (UCLA). :)