Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Infamous No-Knead Bread

A lot of buzz went around the blogosphere a while ago when Mark Bittman published this recipe for no-knead bread in the New York Times.  I am, admittedly, the last person on earth to try this recipe, making me the one billionth person to realize that it makes an amazing, artisan style boule with a nice, light crumb and a crispy, crackly crust.  Effort is minimal, all you need is time.  A lot of time. 

 It's kind of like Ronco Showtime Rotisserie, in that you "set it and forget it."  12 to 18 hours later, you're ready to make bread.  (although if you left a chicken in a Ronco Showtime Rotisserie for 12 to 18 hours you would have a problem.  So nevermind.) 

After a folding over and a brief second rise, the bread bakes in a cast iron pot, which helps with the creation of the magical crust.  We're talking, impress your friends, looks like it's from a bakery crust.  Our friend J, makes bread "the old fashioned way" and is very competitive.  We served this bread at a dinner party which he attended, and now he says he won't make bread for us anymore, which means I know we made him jealous.  So this is no longer Ronco Showtime Rotisserie Bread, it's make your breadmaker friends jealous bread. 

If you haven't made this bread (which you probably have because everyone except me has), you should.  It's easy to make and it's super good, and it makes you want to attach little catch phrases to it.

***Please do not read on if you have not seen, and do not want the ending of the movie The Perfect Storm ruined for you.  Although if you ask me it is a sham so you don't have to be so concerned****

OK this is unrelated, but it bothers me a lot. Does it bother anyone else that in the movie The Perfect Storm, you think all that stuff actually happened, and then in the end you realize that it's all speculation because they all died (maybe not by a giant wave or whatever???)  So they could have sat around and played cards the whole time?  It bothers me a lot.  A LOT.  I would really like your opinions on this so please comment.

Recipe: No-Knead Bread
Published: November 8, 2006, The New York Times
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
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.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.


Taylor said...

No, I'm the last person. I don't have a cast iron pot with a lid, and I don't have room in my kitchen to store one, so I'm not gonna get one!

pinkstripes said...

I haven't made this either, but I don't see the problem with kneading especially when you have a stand mixer. This seems to take more time than a usual loaf because of the no-knead.

You mean the Mark Wahlberg character didn't connect mentally with the love of his life right before he died? :P

Your bread looks delicious by the way.

Natashya said...

I haven't tried this one either. Is the clean up difficult on the pot after? The crust does look good.
I tried the artisan bread in 5 minutes a day and thought that was pretty easy.

Lauren said...

@pinkstripes- the kneading isn't that big a deal, but i can never get a crust this nice with regular bread.

@natashya- it just pops out- virtually no clean up!

Lori said...

I have seen this bread before and never really was interested until this moment. I knead ( ha ha) to make this bread.

And Perfect Storn really bothered me too. I was so sad and felt so awful for that crew. Who knows what happened to that crew. I have a list of questions that I make a mental note of, planning to ask God, or whoever it is that you ask when you die, all these questions. Was that like the longest run on sentence or what?

Kate said...

Actually *I'm* the last person -- I have not tried it yet either, and I bought the pot months ago! I need to get off my ass.

I was troubled by the scene of Markie floating in that big sea, just waiting to die. Pure speculation of course, and I have trouble suspending belief during those types of scenes. For all we know, they went over with the first wave and were done for early on. Let's hope so, for their sake.