May 16, 2009

No-Knead Bread

I got this recipe from a great friend. Hands down, it is the easiest, best bread ever. I had to learn to make it to appease my husband - unfortunately, he was witness only to my early attempts (note: yeast can die), but armed with fresh yeast I have achieved success!

No-knead bread
From Jim Lahey at the Sullivan Street Bakery via Magnifico!

3 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast OR 1/3 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 5/8 cups water (aka 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons)
1¼ teaspoons salt
1/4 c Italian herb mix

If using active dry yeast, wake up the yeast by mixing it with 2 tablespoons warm (about 105 degrees) water and letting it stand for about 5 minutes. Combine flour, herbs and salt in a large bowl and add 1 1/2 cups of water and yeast mixture. If using instant yeast, combine flour, yeast, herbs and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water.

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 parchment paper and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with and inverted bowl or plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

Generously coat a dry cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal. Dump dough onto towel (using a bench scraper to help, if necessary). Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball by pulling the sides up to the top. Quickly roll the dough over so it is resting seam-side down on the towel and dust with more flour. Cover with another dry 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 a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. If the lid has a handle, remove it. 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 is O.K. 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.

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