Where the hell have I been? Under a rock? Not paying attention? Why have I not known about Jim Lahey and Mark Bittman’s No-Knead Bread from the New York Times? Paradigm. Shifted
Man shall not live by bread alone. Matthew 4:4
But, he wishes he had known about this sooner as this had to have been inspired by the Word of God. It’s that good
According to the NYT, it’s one of the most popular things they have ever published. They say as much on the NYT Cooking website. There’s a video, even
This is from Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery in NYC. I made a couple of changes
I did read the Notes and used some of the tricks in making my first batch recently
This bread tastes like a French boule straight from your favorite bakery. It’s got a chewy hard crust and a light as air crumb on the inside with big air holes from the yeast and steam and fermentation. Not quite a sour dough, but the chew, the mouthfeel (I hate that term), the flavor profile (I hate that term) aren’t that far away from sourdough
You will need a heavy, oven proof Dutch oven – enamel, cast iron – with a tight lid. I used a LeCreuset that can go into up to a 500 oven.
It takes a while
Up to 24 hours
Seriously slow process
But don’t rush it
As it cools on a rack it snaps, crackles, and pops. Let it cool fully, slice with a good bread knife, then slather a thick slice with butter
It ain’t gluten free, though, so sorry to our pals who can’t eat gluten
I about fell out in my kitchen when I turned it on the rack to cool
Look at that beauty
3 1/2 cup bread flour – not White Lilly – I used King Arthur brand with hard red wheat, high gluten content. Not good for making biscuit but on time for this bread.
1/4 teaspoon yeast. (Note: if you are using active, dry yeast, you will need to proof it as I did. If you are using instant yeast, no reason to proof it)
2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 1/2 c. + 2 tbs. water. I used the 2 tbsps to proof my yeast and used warm water for that.
Flour for sprinkling work surface, and for sprinkling the bread. You can use wheat germ or cornmeal to sprinkle on the bread, too.
In a large bowl combine flour, salt, proofed yeast and water and stir until blended. The dough will be shaggy and sticky. You will wonder why it looks such a mess. Use a wooden spoon. You will think, there is no way this going to work. Trust the yeast. It does all the work for you.
Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let dough rest at least 12 and up to 18 hours at room temperature. I made it before supper one night and then baked it the following mid-day.
The dough is ready when there are bubbles dotting the surface and it looks like it has come together. I checked on it in the middle of the night, and bubbles had just started. Even so, I was super skeptical that this would work.
After the 12-18 hour rest, line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Lightly flour it and place the dough on it. Sprinkle with a little more flour and fold it on itself a few times. Cover with the plastic wrap from the bowl and let it rest 15 minutes
With barely floured hands, roll into a ball quickly. Srinkle top with a little flour more flour or cornmeal or wheat germ, and cover with a cotton dish towel – but not terry cloth.
Let rest for two more hours.
When it’s ready it will be doubled in size and not bounce back when pressed with your impeccably clean fingers
A half hour before the end of the two hour rise, heat your oven to 450 degrees. Not on convection if you have a convection oven. Put a heavy 6-7 quart covered Dutch oven and the lid- cast iron, enamel, Pyrex, ceramic – in the oven as it heats. You’re creating an oven in an oven that will trap steam and heat. Trust me. It works. I had to take out one of my oven racks so that the top of the lid had room to fit.
When the dough is ready, using potholders for sure, remove the Dutch oven from the oven.
Plop in the dough. I threw it in with the parchment paper. I won’t do that next time as I think there would have been a darker crust, which would be fine with me
Place the lid on the Dutch oven, return it to the oven, and bake for 30 minutes
After 30 minutes, remove lid and bake 15 to 30 minutes until it is as brown as you want it to be. That’s the key. To brown it well. Had I not plopped it in with the parchment, I think I would have had a better colored crust. I will do it the right way next time.
After the bread gets as brown as you like it, remove it from the oven and turn out on a rack to cook. I held the rack over the Dutch oven and inverted it, then turned the bread over again right side up to cool
Let cool on a rack and listen to the snap, crackle, and pop
I may never buy bread again.