Tuesday, August 11, 2009

No-Knead Bread

So, my latest food-related project has been learning how to bake bread. I've discovered there's a lot to learn -- kneading, judging when dough is done rising, different baking techniques, all sorts of stuff. The first bready-thing I tried to make was pretzel rolls, which were partially successful. Then, feeling a little intimidated, I took a step back and attempted this incredibly easy crusty bread recipe, which I still managed to screw up the first time I tried it.

No Knead Bread

Comments & Modifications:
  • The recipe calls for a rise of 12-18 hours. The first time I made this was during the work week, and 12-18 hours didn't fit into my schedule, so I went for more like 22 hours. In a hot house in the summer. Not recommended. The second rise was pathetic and it baked up like a brick.
  • The second time making it, I let it rise for just barely 12 hours, and it was a huge success! The second rise was lovely, and it was nice and airy out of the oven. In the winter it might be able to handle a longer first rise, in the summer? I don't think so.
  • I don't have a dutch oven, so I used a medium sized round casserole dish with a glass lid. The dough just barely fit inside, but it still turned out okay.
  • I still haven't figured out whether the interior is supposed to be moist and chewy, or if I'm still messing something up.

Verdict: Awesome. The second time, at least. This has the crustiness of an artisanal bread, but for a fraction of the price and very little work. Dan and I ate this as a meal with some nice cheese and it was just perfect. I'll definitely be making this again.

Update: Forgot to mention last time that I do the first and second rises in the same bowl, with a wash in between. Working with floured towels just seemed like way too much trouble. Also, the bread is excellent with a couple tablespoons of chopped fresh rosemary mixed in before the first rise, and a bit of kosher salt sprinkled on top just before baking.

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