Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Have you read about the newest rage in bread making? A thread on the Slow Trav message board referenced an article in the New York Times. Now this recipe has been discussed on food message boards all over the internet.

At first I only read about the recipe, because it called for a 6-8 quart pan…one that would withstand a 450º oven complete with a tight fitting lid. I didn’t have an oven-proof pan that large, but eventually decided to try it in my 3 quart Calphalon pan. I checked the information and both the pot and the lid were oven-safe to 450º, so I figured I didn’t have much to lose…..a few cups of flour maybe.

When I mixed the dough the fact that it was very slack (wet) didn’t bother me as much as it did other posters on the ST board. I knew from past experience that a slack dough usually makes for a great finished product. I brought the bowl up to the living room, the warmest room in the house, and let it rise for the maximum time, 18 hours.

Before baking, not only is the oven pre-heated, but the pan is preheated as well. The slack dough is plopped into the pan with a sizzle and the lid is put on to steam the bread, ensuring a crisp crust. This is even easier than spraying the bread and/or the oven! The lid is removed for the last 15-20 minutes of baking, and when it’s done, it just pops right out of the pan!.. Of course the hardest part is waiting for it to cool enough to slice it easily. Sometimes we succeed with this step, sometimes not.

I did experiment with a 2 ½ qt pan, but in the end decided that the 3 qt pan gave me the size loaf I wanted.   I think letting it rise the full 18 hours gives it a tangy, sourdough taste. For us it’s a great compromise between a saltless Umbrian bread that’s perfect for bruschetta and a soft white sandwich style bread that’s good for sandwiches.

Right now I have dough made using 1 cup of rye flour and 2 cups of bread flour. Of course I also added 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds since that’s the way I like my rye bread. It’ll be interesting to see how this turns out!

With a few adjustments, here's my version of the recipe. Don't be afraid to experiment! For the original version click on the link for the NY Times article.

No Knead Bread

3 cups bread flour, more for dusting (430 gr)
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1 ½ teaspoons salt
Water (1 ½ - 1 5/8 cups), tepid

Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours rising

In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 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.

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.

Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Put dough seam side down on plastic wrap. Cover with more plastic wrap and a cotton towel and let rise for about 2-3 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450ºF. Put a 3-4 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’s okay. 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.



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