June 1, 2009
It’s been about a month since I first tried my hand at No-Knead Bread. Since then I’ve perfected my NKB technqiue — loaves could no longer be used as a weapon of self-defense like my first — and now fresh, homemade bread has become a staple in our home. A loaf of homemade bread is so simple, yet so rewarding. Well worth the effort.
Planning for the weekend’s meals and kitchen projects, I wanted to branch out and try a different type of bread. When I stumbled across this recipe for No-Knead Challah Bread from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day over at the Kitchn, I knew it was THE ONE. I mixed the dough up on a cold and rainy Friday night, and then popped it in the oven on Saturday morning before heading out to wander about Leslieville with Karly.
The results? Perfection. Braided perfection. I had been planning on using up the loaf in a bread pudding, but the poor thing didn’t even last 24 hours! It was absolutely delicious topped with fresh ricotta cheese sprinkled with a little sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.
1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup melted, unsalted butter
7 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of water)
Sesame seeds for top
1. Mix yeast, salt, eggs, honey and melted butter with luke-warm water in a 5-quart bowl or lidded (not airtight) container.
2. Mix in the flour without kneading, using a spoon. You may also use a food processor with dough attachment or a stand mixer with dough hook if you are so inclined.
3. Cover the dough and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (flattens on the top), for approximately two hours. Make sure the cover is not air-tight. I used saran-wrap to cover the bowl loosely and it was fine.
4. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, but the recipe advises it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded container (again, not airtight) and use within five days. The dough can also be frozen in one-pound portions for up to four weeks. To defrost, store in the fridge overnight before using. Allow for rest and rise time before baking.
5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dust the surface of the dough with flour and cut off a one pound piece. Dust with more flour and shape in to a ball. To shape it, stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides. Turn the ball a quarter turn each time you stretch.
6. Dive the ball into thirds with a knife, or dough scraper, and roll each ball between your hands to form a long, thin rope. If the dough is resisting, let it rest for another five minutes.
7. To braid the ropes, start from the centre and work towards one end. Turn over the loaf, rotate it and braid from the centre to the other end. This will help produce a uniform thickness.
8. Allow the bread to rest and rise once again on the baking sheet for about 1 hour, 20 minutes. (If your dough hasn’t been refrigerated, 40 minutes will do).
9. When there is about 5-10 minutes left to rise, preheat the over to 350F. Brush your loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
9. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the challah is golden brown and the braids near the centre of the loaf offer resistance to pressure. Resist the temptation to rip into your bread before it has cooled.