No Knead….. is a ‘no need’ to worry – wonderful minimalist bread

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Bread making can be very intimidating especially for someone new to cooking and baking. You always hear about KNEADING the bread to make it just the right texture…well, knead no more – there is a ‘no need’ to worry wonderful bread is in your future.

Personally, I love bread (and all those pound-packing starches) – taking the time to make a really good bread is often the one thing many of us will forego, and just pick up at the grocery store or a bakery.

As far as I’m concerned, there is nothing more delicious than a homemade crusty loaf of bread. Crisp on the outside and light and airy in the interior – especially if it is warm and fresh, right out of the oven!

Thank goodness for Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery in New York – he developed a basic technique some time ago, with just a few ingredients that many of us have latched onto and cannot let go! Some of us followers of Lahey have changed his initial technique a smidgen – but it’s his technique nonetheless. Amazingly…a child could do this recipe!

At the end of fermentation, Jim Lahey folds his bread dough a couple of times, I don’t even bother – nor do I let it rise another two hours once it has been taken out of the bowl. I have tried it both ways – and just don’t find much of a difference, therefore, I skip that extra step of folding and the addition of another two hours of time.

When almost ready to bake this no-knead loaf, I do flour my hands and give the dough a good pat all around, forming a nice round on a floured board…and that’s it! The Time Factor does all the work for you.
18 hours of sitting and fermenting gives the dough time to form nice airy bubbles throughout the mixture.

My baking vessel of choice for this bread is a cast iron enameled round Le Creuset Pot with a lid. You don’t need a #24 cast iron Le Creuset Pot (but they sure are awesome) – you just need a pot or ovenproof container that will hold 4-6 quarts and has a tight fitting lid. The addition of parchment paper to line the pot is very helpful for placing it in the pot and removing it.
Four simple ingredients for a standard loaf and I’m off and running. Of course, I have experimented with adding ingredients to my loaves and that works too! In one loaf I added slivers of dehydrated garlic and rosemary salt, and to another loaf, I added two cups of dried cranberries. To a third loaf, was the addition of sun-dried tomatoes, oregano, and basil.
Interestingly, with these other incarnations from the original recipe, I didn’t add more water to compensate for the additional ingredients, just added the other stuff in, and was good to go. All loaves turned out perfectly!

You can also add some sour dough starter from a homemade batch with a “mother” – that works too…possibilities and flavors are absolutely endless.

This No Knead Minimalist Bread will wind up being part of your normal week’s activities and your favorite homemade product…no knead and no worry!

Four ingredients ready to go into the pot to bake

Four ingredients ready to go into the pot to bake

Finished plain four ingredient bread

Finished plain four ingredient bread

Crisp crust and airy interior

Crisp crust and airy interior

Cranberry dough ready to ferment for 18 hours

Cranberry dough ready to ferment for 18 hours

Cranberry dough bubbly after fermenting - now ready to be turned out into a round

Cranberry dough bubbly after fermenting – now ready to be turned out into a round

Finished Cranberry Loaf

Finished Cranberry Loaf

No Knead Steamed Bread
Adapted from Jim Lahey’s recipe (Jim is the owner of Sullivan Street Bakery) –
I just love Jim Lahey for developing this process – it makes it possible for anyone to become a bread baker!!
Ingredients:
3 cups of all-purpose organic flour
1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid rise yeast
1 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups filtered cool tap water (no –specific temperature – I use my well
water out of the filtered Brita jug)

Special Equipment:
# 24 enamel/cast iron pot with lid (or other oven-proof container with tight fitting lid, about 4-6 quarts)
Parchment paper

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl add 3 cups flour. Add 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast and
1 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt; whisk together. (if adding other ingredients like cranberries, sun-dried tomatoes and herbs, jalapenos – add them in now)

Pour in the water. Mix the dough together (I use a dough whisk); don’t
Mix too much – you don’t want to over-mix.

Cover the dough bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough sit for 14-18 hours (I sit my dough bowl on top of my turned-off gas stove for most of the time – you really want it room temperature, about 70°). The surface of the dough should bubbly in appearance.

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Once preheated place #24 LeCreuset pan with lid in the oven to heat for 30 minutes.

Cook’s Note: The dough will appear super sticky – don’t panic, it should look like that.

Heavily flour a flat surface (counter or cutting board) and your hands. Remove the sticky dough from the bowl onto the floured surface and gently form a round. If there are air bubbles, leave them. (Do not knead the bread).
With your floured hands, gently keep patting the sides of the dough to help it hold some shape as a round. Place a little flour on the top of the dough and pat lightly; cover the dough with the plastic wrap.

After 30 minutes when your pot is hot – place a sheet of parchment in the bottom (and up the sides). If you have a cake lifter or peal, lift the dough into the pot. Cook’s Note: If you are concerned about doing that, place the dough on the parchment and then place into the pot.

Once the dough is in the pot, lid the pot (make sure it is tightly covered) and place back in the oven.

Bake covered for 30 minutes. Once it has baked 30 minutes, remove the lid and put back to bake uncovered for about 15 minutes or until bread is the desired color. Remove completed bread to a wire rack to cool.

Cranberry Bread Served with an Omelet

Cranberry Bread Served with an Omelet

Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Cranberry Bread and homemade Mozzarella

Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Cranberry Bread and homemade Mozzarella

Sun-dried Tomato and Herb Bread to Accompany Bison Meatballs

Sun-dried Tomato and Herb Bread to Accompany Bison Meatballs

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