Monday, September 08, 2008

No-Knead Bread

My good blogfriend Karen inspired me to try this recipe after producing an excellent result herself. When she told me she was making a no-knead bread, I assumed she was making a batter bread, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this is no batter bread (I have nothing against batter breads per se; I'm just not a huge fan).

Karen's result was so gorgeous I had to try it, too. In fact, I've now tried it twice, once with white flour (bread flour, actually) and once with 100% whole wheat flour.

The recipe originally appeared in the New York Times, and I highly recommend you read the accompanying article because it gives you the scientific reason - in layman's terms - why this method of breakmaking works so well. Basically, you mix the dry ingredients with water and let the dough sit for a minimum of 18 hours. The gluten develops itself in this time, rather than being developed by kneading. Also, you bake this loaf in an oven-proof pot, or Dutch Oven, as this mimicks the conditions created in a commercial steam-injected oven. I've actually baked a loaf of bread in my KitchenAid cast iron Dutch Oven before, the Kazakh Family Loaf, and I had a great result.

The first time I made this recipe, I added some dried herb mixture to the dough and some parmesan cheese to the top. I had to add more water than the recipe called for because the initial amount wasn't enough to incorporate all the dry ingredients. I got an absolutely stunning result, and I couldn't wait to try this recipe again. Luckily, my dad needed bread and since I regularly make him 100% whole wheat bread (he hates white flour, though I notice he loved my pizza pretzels just fine) I offered to make it for him using this new method.

To the 100% whole wheat, though, I did add 1/4 tsp of gluten, because whole wheat flour is naturally low in gluten, and since the more gluten the better when it comes to bread baking, I thought a bit extra wouldn't hurt at all. And it didn't. Again, I got a fabulous loaf, though shorter and more dense. My dad was pretty happy.

The crust on both loaves was superb, and since there is a high water percentage in this recipe, the crumb was tight and the bread's texture was light and spongey and contained many lovely air bubbles.

All around, a fantastic recipe that even your kids can make, and it takes so little effort and comes out so beautifully, you'll never want to buy store-bought bread again. Trust me.

Thank you Karen!

Also, my fellow foodblogger the Underground Baker, did a post here (scroll way down) closer to when the recipe was first published. Her loaves are stunning, too.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

It looks beautiful! I still have to try that recipe...



la said...

Looks delicious but ... the kneading is my favourite part! I need to feel kneaded!

Meg said...

Thanks for sharing! That bread looks like it is so soft and chewy. I wish I had some right now for breakfast!

Wandering Coyote said...

Rosa: thanks!

La: Oh, heck, I enjoy kneading, too! There are lots of recipes here on this site that are for kneaded bread!

Meg: this bread has superior texture - it's bread heaven, pretty much!

Pam said...

My kids and I bake together all the time. I am so excited to try this recipe!

Wandering Coyote said...

Pam: this is a great recipe to introduce kids to breadbaking.

Border Life said...

I saw this on Mark Bitman's show and have not tried it! It looks FABULOUS!

Thank you for the whole wheat recipe!

I'll have to get my Le Creuset that was too heavy for my Mom and put it to good use!

Here's the youtube link.

Tina said...

Thank you so much for sending me this link. I have to get cotton towels (I ahve terry cloth) but I plan to make a loaf of this when I'm on vacation next week.

Thanks again!

Wandering Coyote said...

Tina: cripes, I do not use cotton towels for this! It has never worked for me. I allow the dough to rise on one of my silicone baking mats, covered with plastic wrap! I ruined a towel once making this bread!

Pierce said...

Oh I am so glad I read your comment! You see, I only have terry towels so I went to Target and bought plain cotton towels so I could make the bread.

Now I'm trying to find the right dutch oven. I have a le creuset but the knob won't handle 450 degrees. So I'm looking for a suitable dutch oven that will withstand the temp. I can always use another pot anyway. Is your pot 6 quarts?


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