Tuesday, October 16, 2007

World Bread Day 2007 No Knead White Bread

I've been wanting to post a bread recipe for awhile. An open invitation from Zorra to participate in World Bread Day seemed like more than a good enough reason to do so. I had taken a few pictures awhile ago, so no time like the present. This recipe surfaced on the web last year and seemed to spread like wild fire through the food blogging world. I came across it through some more unusual bloggers who really didn't blog about food, but whose interest was piqued to give it a whirl. I was more than interested and amused in the buzz that was swirling around this particular recipe. I think it was the concept that it sounds fairly easy as there are only 4 ingredients that hooked most of us into having a go. Of course, it is very easy and yet, not quite the no brainer that it appears to be, but can yield a very decent product with minimal effort. The crux of the matter is that it is a very wet dough, that is supported by the cast iron pot, which also gives it the wonderful crunchy crusts that is usually achieved by water pans in the bottom of the oven and misting the dough in the first 10 minutes of the baking.
So once you get use to flipping the dough into the pot, you're more than on your way to a better tasting loaf of bread. I am adding a couple of links to different sites who have some helpful information and step by step descriptions that will help even the beginner to feel confident of success. Jim Lahey's No Knead bread recipe
as seen in the New York Times article
that started the craze and undoubtedly increased sales of cast iron enameled pots
Rose Levy Beranbanm's
version, instructions and in depth discussions from many people and their experiences. I found this the most useful and instructive site. In the end as usual. I have found what works for me and it varies depending on if I use other flour and my natural starter, so don't be afraid to experiment and just keep baking loaves till you get what works for you. I seldom get the large holes in my bread for a variety of reason, but the flavor is there and for me that's the most important thing. Naturally, the guests would have trouble keeping the home made jam on their toast, so smaller holes are best for me. The recipe below is the original with a few changes, from me and a few others folks like Rose Levy Beranbanm. Feel free to change it suit your taste.
No Knead White Bread

Published: November 8, 2006 in the NY Times
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
Time: About 1 1/2 hours plus 14 to 24 hours’ rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting (468 g flour)
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (0.8 g)
1 3/4 teaspoons salt (10.5 g)
1 1/2 cups water 354-grams/12.5 ounces water
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast, and salt. Add 1 1/2 cups 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.

2. 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.

3. 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 towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran, or cornmeal. (I use a silpat dusted with flour and with the bowl covering it for the second rise.I put some flour around the edge of the bowl rim to try and keep it from sticking to the dough.) Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. More if it is cold and doesn't seem to be rising. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 3-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats (the original recipe calls for a 6 to 8 quart pot, but I have a smaller cast iron pot and it gives a the smaller pot which gives you a rounder loaf. If you want it wide and flatter, go for the bigger pot). 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 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1 1/2-pound loaf.

I found this video from Breadtopia on you tube, which is a simple straight forward approach for a good visual presentation and different from the original version of the NYTimes Mark Bittman version.
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