The latest buzz at work these days has been about a recipe that originally appeared in the New York Times last fall, and was reprinted in the Star Tribune a few weeks ago. The recipe? No-knead bread. (I would love to read the original article by Mark Bittman sometime . . . but the Times makes you pay for archived articles. Boo!) Anyhow, I finally scrounged up a recipe for the bread, and started working on it yesterday. Here's my version of the process, with accompanying photos:
1. Stir together 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat bread flour, 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast, and 2 teaspoons of salt in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 5/8 cups warm water, and stir until everything is combined. It will look like a sloppy mess!
2. Cover the dough and let it sit at warm room temperature (I stuck it in my oven so the pilot light could keep it just a little bit warmer,) for 12 to 24 hours. (I went about 13 hours on this first rise.) It will look like an even bigger mess now:
3. Flour your work surface well and turn your dough out onto the surface. (I found using a silicone spatula to help the dough along during this process was indispensable.) Fold the dough over once or twice, and let it rest for 15 minutes. Still messy:
4. Shape the dough into a ball, using enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands and the board, (I ended up using almost a cup of flour during this process,) and transfer this ball to a very well-floured dishtowel or Silpat. Flour the top of the dough, and cover it with another dishtowel or a piece of plastic wrap. Looking less messy now:
5. After about an hour and a half, preheat your oven to 450 degrees Farenheight, and stick a large (4 to 6 quart, although I used a 3 1/2 quart All-Clad casserole) pot or Dutch oven (ungreased) in the oven, so it can get nice and hot, too. Wait at least another half an hour, and up to an hour and a half, until your dough has doubled in size. (My dough got flatter and much, much bigger -- see?)
6. Take the pot out of the oven and use the towel or Silpat to flop the dough into the pan. (I thought ahead and used a pastry brush to remove most of the excess flour from the towel and the top of the dough before floppping, to prevent a huge, messy cloud I'd later have to clean up. It worked wonderfully!) Give the pan a shake or two to evenly distribute the dough:
7. Cover and bake the bread for 30 minutes. Then take the lid off:
8. Bake 15 to 30 minutes longer, until the bread is lovely and browned. Turn your bread out onto a wire rack. (It will just fall right out of the pan . . . it's truly amazing! Resist the temptation to grease the pan!)
9. Cool on a wire rack, then enjoy.
Other than having to time your bread process somewhat, this was nearly effortless, and produced the best loaf of homemade bread I've ever made. Light, chewy, airy, delicious. Make some and tell me how yours turns out!