As usual, I am a little late to the party. Nothing new there. But yesterday we were doing some long slow cooking – started a pot-roast for dinner tonight – and I thought it would be a good time to try out the famous no-knead bread that Mark Bittman wrote about in the New York Times last November and that everyone in the blogosphere except me has baked innumerable times since. I have been especially tempted by the posts over at Alaska Cooks here and here.
In retrospect, I can’t quite figure out what took me so long. Though the recipe has of course been tweaked and fussed at as only foodies can, the gist is simple. In case you have been living in a cave and have managed not to hear about it, this is it:
- Three cups of bread flour, ¼ teaspoon yeast, and 1 ¼ teaspoons salt go into a bowl with 1 5/8 cup water.
- Stir it around with your hands until it’s mixed and sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and set it aside somewhere room temperature for 12- 18 hours.
- When it is kind of bubbly on top and makes stretchy threads when you tip the bowl, turn it out onto a floured board. Fold it over like a tri-fold letter a couple of times, then set it on a towel you have dusted with flour, corn meal or wheat bran, sprinkle more of whatever you are using on top of the dough and top with another towel. Let it sit for 2-3 hours until it doubles in size.
- Half an hour before you are ready to bake it, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and put a heavy covered pot into the oven to heat. When the dough has doubled, put it into the hot pan seam side down. [Editor's Note: Oops, mistake! I meant seam side up -- I guess the seam helps the steam escape since the dough is too damp to slash.] Bake, covered, for 30 minutes and then uncovered for 20-30 minutes. Tip the bread out of the pan and let cool before slicing and eating (hah, as if!)
And that’s it.
So we made it and oh, my, it’s as good as bread can be. Crackly and crusty and just fantastic. And no, we couldn’t wait til it cooled and it didn’t slice neatly and who the hell cares. It’s spectacular – better than any bakery around here could possibly turn out, even the ones with the fancy ovens. We have two more bowls of dough rising even as I type.