Cooking

No-Knead Bread

The finished product with a crisp crust and chewy center.

I love bread. I don’t really have words for how much I love bread. And there’s little in the world that can beat fresh, warm bread, right from your own oven.

Last winter, I tried a variety of no-knead bread recipes. Here are the two winners; the first recipe requires prepping the dough a day in advance, while the second is a same-day recipe. Each requires the use of a dutch oven.

I’m still working on a whole wheat version. Hopefully I’ll have one to share soon.

Sullivan Street Bakery (via NY Times)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups King Arthur all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • Heaping 1/4 tsp active dry yeast* or 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 tsp table salt
  • Cornmeal

Instructions

If using active dry yeast: In a measuring cup, combine 1 5/8 cups warm water (between 105-115 degrees) and yeast. Allow to rest for two minutes before combining with flour and salt; stir until blended. The dough will be shaggy and sticky.

If using instant yeast: In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended. The dough will be shaggy and sticky.

For either method: Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place the dough on it. Sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball.

Generously coat a cotton dish towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal. Place the dough seam side down on the towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. I’ve found that resting that towel in a saucepan allows the dough to rise up instead of out, and keeps the dough ball in the proper shape for the dutch oven. Cover the dough with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 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 30 minutes before the dough is ready, preheat oven to 450 degrees with your 6- to 8-quart dutch oven inside. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over into pot, seam side up; it will look a bit strange and misshapen.

Shake the pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with the lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Simple Crusty Bread (also from the NY Times)

The recipe makes enough dough for two large or four smaller loaves. Bake some today and some tomorrow.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Cornmeal

Instructions

In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups of lukewarm water (about 105 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. The dough will be quite loose. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature for 2-5 hours.

You can bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks.

When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with a serrated knife. Turn the dough in your hands to lightly stretch the surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put the dough on a clean dish towel sprinkled with cornmeal and allow to rest 40 minutes in an empty saucepan to help it rise up rather than out.

Immediately preheat oven to 450 degrees with your 6- to 8-quart dutch oven inside. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over into pot, seam side up; it will look a bit strange and misshapen.

Bake with the lid on until well browned, about 30 minutes; you may need another 5-10 minutes depending on the size of your loaf. Cool on a wire rack.

* Note: I’ve had much better results with active dry yeast than with instant. Active dry requires warm water to let the yeast bloom; instant does not.

Results

Everyone loves fresh bread. The Tiny Kitchen Assistant chows down on big, thick slices of it like it’s the greatest thing since… well, you get the idea.

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One Response

  1. Janet Troughton says:

    thanks for detailed instructions. Getting the temperature right is an issue, and type of yeast when it is not specified. Good site.

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