Today's post title is courtesy of an absolutely dreadful joke made by my friend S. I apologize on her, and my, behalf.
This past weekend I made Bread v.2, thanks to an extraordinary article in the New York Times that my mother forwarded to me (thanks Mom!). You can read the article here (you may have to sign up with the NYT, but if you aren't already, you should be), but the gist of it is that, rather than knead the bread, you simply let time do the work for you. It does require more time than usual (12-18 hours for the first rise and about 2 more hours for the second) but if you are bit phobic about the whole bread-making process (as I am) then this recipe is a BOON. It's extremely simple and the results were extraordinary. My cast iron pot is quite large, so I got a large disk about 3 inches high at its peak (A smaller pot would have yielded a smaller and fatter loaf) that had a remarkable golden brown crust. After letting it cool, I sliced it up and toasted it to make a sandwich for my husband, who raved about it. It's the same texture as a freshly made baguette..simply wonderful.
If you don't want to read the whole article, here's the recipe.
How To Bake No-Knead Bread
About 30-60 minutes work plus 14 to 20 hours' total bread rising time.
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting *
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.
The type of flour used can be varied as you wish: white, whole wheat, or blends. The yeast MUST be instant or it's not going to work.
Starting The Bread Dough:
Mix your flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add 1 5/8 cups water**, and mix ingredients gently until blended. The dough is a very wet and sticky one. Put a piece of plastic wrap over the bowl to cover it and then put it somewhere that's at least 70 degrees for the next 12 to 18 hours.
Preparing The Dough:
When you come back and check on your dough, it should be larger and sort of puffy-looking with lots of bubbles all over. Sprinkle some extra flour on a work surface and scoop the dough out of the bowl on the surface. Sprinkle the dough with a bit of the flour and fold it over just one or two times. Cover it with the plastic wrap that was on the dough bowl and let it sit there for about 15 minutes.
Lay out a clean cotton towel (a smooth texture one) and sprinkle it with flour/cornmeal/bran. You don't want to add too much flour at this point, so, using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands, roll the dough into as tight a ball-shape as you can. Put the messier/seamed side of the ball down on the towel, sprinkle the dough with cornmeal/bran and cover with a second towel. Let the dough sit like this for two hours more. It should get a bit larger in size during this last rising.
Baking the Bread:
After the dough has risen for about 90 minutes of the two hours, start the oven pre-heating. Set it to 450 degrees AND put the pot you're going to bake the bread in into the oven to heat up too.
When the dough finishes rising, carefully take the pre-heated pot out of the oven. Carefully flip the dough off the towel and into the pot, which should make it seam-messy side up when it winds up in the pot. If the dough is crooked, wiggle the pot a bit. Then put the lid on and put it into the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes, then open oven and take off the pot lid. Bake for 15-30 minutes more until loaf is browned. Remove from oven, tip out of pot and cool on a rack.
Makes one loaf, about 1.5 lbs.
*I used bread flour, but I've heard people say they've used everything from AP to whole wheat to a mixture.
**This is what the recipe calls for, but I've seen several people say this yields too wet a dough (as was mine). If you watch the video that goes with this article, he actually says 1 1/2 cups of water, so I am wondering if the recipe misprinted. I'm going to try that next time.