No knead bread recipes are all over the place these days, touted as the everyman’s route to bakery deliciousness. Their promise of purity and simplicity combined with the ease of use we’ve all come to ask for in our endeavors seem to good to be true. I’ve made no knead breads from the Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day cookbook for a couple of years now and while they are easy, I’ve rarely been super impressed with my efforts. Enter the new no-knead recipe, one that quadruples the rise time and cooks in a dutch oven. Hey, I can leave stuff along for a long time, especially if the recipe recommends I get some sleep as part of the directions. I’m down with sleep. So I tried it. All the pinners said, best bread ever. But you know pinners, they say that kind of stuff all the time. This time, however, they were not lying, exaggerating or just more talented than I am. I have made five loaves since this first one and each time they have lasted less than 24 hours in my house. I’m actually not making it as often because I’m pretty sure my kids would eat nothing else. Although I could probably put spinach paste on this bread and they’d eat it. AND ask for more.
One of the other great things about this recipe is that it has just four ingredients and they are all things I generally have around the house. Water? I don’t even have to walk to the creek with my fancy indoor plumbing . Salt? Kosher all the way. Bread flour? Sure. Yeast? Most of the time. It used to be that the yeast’s age was questionable, but I’ve gone through my stash with all the bread making and I now not only have yeast, it’s not even expired (I haven’t noticed a difference in the bread rise, in case you’re wondering). The recipe that follows is from Frugal Living NW, she adapted it from Jim Lahey. Check out her site for even more tips and directions.
To start, have your lovely assistant measure out 6 cups of bread flour. If you’re homeschooling, this totally counts as a math lesson (stop judging me).
°To your 6 cups of flour add 2 ²⁄3 cups of water, 1 teaspoon yeast (actually that’s doubling it, the recipe calls for ½ teaspoon but I just can’t do it) and 2 ½ teaspoons of salt. Mix it all up (I even got a fancy new Danish dough whisk). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it out of the way to rise for 12 to 18 hours. Yes. Hours. Go take a nap, read a book, find some way to occupy your time. I’m not saying you have to be productive, just don’t worry about the bread.
Slightly yellow, with lots of little dots that look like you spilled the pepper in your dough, but which, on closer inspection, turn out to be air bubbles. This recipe makes a very wet dough so you’re going to want to have lots of flour on hand for the next step. I have found, through experimentation, that whole wheat flour, as opposed to more bread flour, seems to work better for this step.
Liberally flour a tea towel and your hands. Take the dough from the bowl and quickly shape it into a roughly round ball, tucking the ends under. Place the ball on your towel like so and put quite a bit more flour on top. It does not have to be anything close to perfect.
Transfer the tea towel and bread to a bowl, cover with another towel or fold the ends on top, depending on your towel size.
Let the dough rise in the bowl for 2 hours. At the 90 minute mark, put your dutch oven in the oven and set the temperature to 425º F. When the oven and pot have been heating for thirty minutes (2 hours since you transferred the dough to the bowl), carefully remove the hot pot from the oven. Flip the bread from the bowl into the dutch oven. Frugal Living NW has better pictures of this step, I was working without an extra camera man. At least without one who could take clear pictures. It seems like the bread should stick to the towel but I’ve only had that happen once (the first time, which I used bread flour) and even then it wasn’t a big deal.
Put the lid on and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 10 – 15 till golden and crusty. This loaf needs to get quite golden, the one pictured here wasn’t done enough. It was still good, but just a little sticky.
Voila. Ze perfect bread. Put the bread on a rack to cool and DO NOT cut into it. You’ll hear it cracking as it cools, that’s good. Wait at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour, or your bread will be gummy. I know, this recipe requires a lot of patience. And it seems like you’d need to find so much time to make it, but really, the actual hands on time is about 10 minutes. If that. Make it the night before and shape and bake in the morning before work if your kids are early risers like mine. It is crazy good though. Make it. Make it today!