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Monday, September 07, 2009

No-Knead, Not-So-Easy

You know how on that Minimalist video they said that no-knead is so easy, that even a four-year old can make it? Well... I guess I'm at a no-knead age level below that.

I read the recipe. Re-read it. Tried to be one with the ingredients, all that stuff. Unlike the regular bread making ways, you just have to mix the ingredients up and then leave it alone for 20 hours. Seems insanely simple, right? Well... if you knew what shaggy was supposed to look like. I ended up adding a little more water until it looked what I hoped was shaggy. Wrapped it up with cling and popped it in the oven for a nice long slumber.

It was all mixed together and ready for rising by 10:35. So very hour after that, I would take a peek to see if anything happened. Nothing at first, which left me somewhat frustrated and resigned to the fact that I cannot make bread, even the simplest of breads.

When I awoke the next day, I was afraid to even check. I kept worrying that all I would see was the same sized mass, and would have to start all over again. I slowly eased the door open. The smell that wafted out was definitely yeasty, but with a slight sweet tinge. Is that normal? I finally took a look at the bowl. Hoorah! The dough had doubled in size and looked very bubbly. I wasn't planning on working with it for another 6 hours, so I closed the door and went off to school.

At this point here I will readily admit my veering from the directions. I took the dough out of the bowl for a "quick rise" before baking. The directions said 15 minutes... I ended up giving the dough a few hours to get ready for the oven (whoops). When the oven was warm enough, I placed it in my pre-heated dutch oven and waited. Thirty minutes with the cover on, and another thirty with it off so the crust could color up.

Results? The crust was really crusty and the inside very dense. But that could be from my tearing into it before giving it enough time to cool down (what can I say... I'm an impatient person). I smeared some butter on a slice and instead of seeping into the bread, it floated on top. Hmmm.

At least I'm good with the bread machine.

Recipe: No-Knead Bread (New York Times 11/8/2006)

Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.
Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, 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.

1 comment:

phairhead said...

kinda like those magic sponges you'd get as a kid

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