Saturday, January 2, 2010

Almost No Knead Bread.

It's about time we got back into this blogging thing...

This post is inspired by a buddy of mine. The other day he asked me for a good easy bread recipe.

I gave him the recipe that follows... Not only is it it easy, but it yields some of the best tasting bread I have ever made at home. I almost feel like I'm cheating every time I make it.

I would love to take credit for it as my own, but I stole it from Cooks illustrated, who actually stole the idea/methodology for a recipe the New York Times printed a few years back (see link: who in fact took it from this guy Jim Lahey, who kinda revolutionized the way home bakers are baking (takes a breath).

You'll will see what I mean when you make the bread.

A few notes before you begin:

An enameled cast-iron Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid yields best results, but the recipe also works in a regular cast-iron Dutch oven or a heavy stockpot.

They suggest using a mild-flavored lager, such as Budweiser, (I use whatever I have in the fridge, it's never Budweiser, but it always turns out great)

The bread is best eaten the day it is baked but can be wrapped in aluminum foil and stored up to 2 days.

Ok now the recipe.


3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces), plus additional for dusting work surface (or like the dough used in these pictures 2 cups AP and 1 cup whole wheat)

1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast

1 1/2 teaspoons table salt

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (7 ounces), at room temperature

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mild-flavored lager (3 ounces)

1 tablespoon white vinegar


1. Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.

(don't over think this first step... don't kneed it at all just mix until it comes together. Also the closer you get to an 18 hour fermentation the better the flavor)

2. Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside a 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger (about 2 hours).

3. About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 205-210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

I know that the total time it takes from start to finish is long, but the actually time working on the bread is only 10-15 min.

So planning ahead is a necessity- but one that's well worth the wait.

Bon Apetit.


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