May 2, 2009
In January I wrote about my Kitchen Resolutions for the New Year. One of the items on the list was to branch out and try some of the recipes or techniques I’ve been meaning to get around to. One of those recipes was Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread.
There are a thousand blog entries that you can read about this recipe. But I just couldn’t resist because I’m beaming with pride. I’m the last food blogger on earth to write about No-Knead Bread, and that, my friends, is because I was scared of it. I’ve never made bread. Knead or otherwise. I’ve never made anything with yeast, in fact, and the whole thing seemed very nerve-wracking. What with the shaggy dough — what is shaggy dough? — and the rising and the resting.
Last weekend was beautiful in Toronto, 25 degrees at least, so I of course thought this was the perfect weekend to try my hand at a loaf of bread. I think I kind of over-mixed it and I used whole wheat flour because that was all I had and it turned out okay. It was pretty dense, but it was still the perfect carrier for a runny egg, a turkey sandwich and lots of plain old salted butter.
If you’re new to bread like I was, I highly recommend taking a few minutes to watch this video from the New York Times with Jim Lahey and Mark Bittman. It really helped to clarify what “fold it over on itself” meant.
Makes one loaf
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
1 5/8 cups water
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.
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.