Thursday, December 6, 2012

I Need No Knead Bread.

Ok, I am a few years late to the party. I realize that this no knead bread thing has been around since 2007. I realize that I bought 2 new dutch ovens to try this in the last 3 years. I realize that most of you have probably already tried this and gotten over the AAAAAHHHHHHH factor. That being said, this is fun so I am writing about it. For those of you who are gluten free, avert your eyes, read no further, I have no interest in torturing you.

Crispy crusty deliciousness with 4 ingredients and 5 min of work.

There is something awesome about your kids waking up in the morning to fresh baked artisan bread. Even better when you have invested a total of 5 min of work to make it... This delicious loaf came out about 5 min ago and will be a large contributor to my breakfast!

Here's the recipe:
  • Measure out 2 parts flour to 1 part water but do not combine them at this point (3 cups to 1.5 cups seems to be the norm). You can use up to 1/2 whole wheat flour with great success but, more whole wheat makes a reaaaaalllly dense loaf.
  • Add about 1t salt per cup of water
  • Add 1/4t yeast per cup of water
  • Stir up the dry ingredients, then add the water (this is critical because you are not going to knead this dough to make sure that all things are well dispersed within the dough)
  • Stir to combine (result is a wet hairy dough ball).
  • Cover with plastic wrap
  • Wait 12-18 hours
  • Flop it onto a lightly floured counter (gently)
  • Lightly stretch into a dough ball
  • Let it rest and raise 30 - 90 min.
  • Put your "cloche" (Dutch oven) in the oven at 450* and let it heat for at least 30 min
  • Drop the dough in the "cloche", close it up, bake 30 min
  • Pull the lid, and let it continue to toast for 10 min until dark and crunchy.
  • Remove loaf, listen to the song it sings to you as the crust crunches and crackles
  • cool 30 min (or as long as your patience allows)
  • cut 
  • enjoy with real butter and honey from the back yard, or home grown jelly!
My red enamel Tramontina has a new primary use.
I've only made 4 loaves, but the first three disappeared as soon as there were kids, and loaf 4 is cooling right now, soon to meet it's demise.

 The key to this method is steam. In commercial bakeries they pipe steam into the oven while the bread bakes to make a really thin crisp crust without sacrificing the integrity of the crumb. The cloche (pronounced \ˈklōsh\) allows sufficient build up of steam and very even heat from all sides much like a commercial oven would.  You could use a cast iron dutch oven, or an enamel Tramontina like I do, even the glased terra cotta cloche would work great (Alton Brown likes big terra cotta pots upside down on a pizza stone or the pot plate).  In the end the temperature outside the cloche is 450 but inside it is a steamy delicious 250 degrees, allowing a nice crust, and plenty of oven spring. 

Observations so far: 
  • I really want to rush this process and that is not good for the bread... so perhaps when kids come home from school is a better time than when they wake up. It takes 2 hrs from the time you pull the dough onto your counter, until it is ready to eat, granted you only work 2 min during that time, but you do have to be awake.
  • This bread would be fabulous with add-ins like calamata olives, basil, whole roasted garlic cloves, rasins and a sprinkle of cinnamon, etc.
  • The crust is super crunchy for an hour or so, but if you let it rest for a couple of hours it gets chewy and delicious in a totally different way.
This is what happens right after it is sliced

I have now made 8 loaves, and all of them have turned out pretty good. 
I did get heavy handed with the salt 1 time, it was ok.
I did not stir it well one time and got all the salt on one side of the bread which made for some good and some REAAAAAALLLLLLY bad bread in the same loaf.  
I tiny splash of water in the Dutch oven, just before you close it, makes the crust even thinner and tastier.

The nice part is that this is just so darn simple, I am not sure why I wasn't doing it before! I love to get the kids involved making the dough because they get so excited about the bread. I love that I can hear a loaf crackling as it cools right now!