Monday, January 08, 2007

New York Times No-Knead Bread

Heather, below is the bread recipe I've been using to test my new white whole wheat flour. You may have seen it, the recipe, it's been burning up the internet since the holidays. It's insanely simple. And the final product is insanely artisan, given the paucity of work behind it. Its creator, Jim Lahey from NYC's Sullivan Street Bakery, says an 8-year-old could do it. I believe him.

Bread is a weakness for me. If I knew I only had a few days left on this bountiful, if slowly melting planet, I'd succumb to the call of the loaf, I would. Crusty, chewy, a little salty, and ... oh!

Recipe: No-Knead Bread1
- From NYT's Dining & Wine Section, November 8, 2006

Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising
Yield: One 1½-pound loaf

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

1   In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 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. Cover with another 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.

4   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. 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.

Note [mine, not NYT]: I've had better success with a higher oven temperature, something between 490ºF and 500ºF. But I turn it down to around 450ºF after I take the lid off, midway through baking.

Accompanying article, The Secret of Great Bread: Let Time Do the Work1
- From NYTs, November 8, 2006

Accompanying how-to video, a must see:

1 Accessing the NYT's Recipe or Article may require (free) registration.

Photos: Homegrown. Top is No-knead Bread using 100% all purpose flour. Below is No knead bread using 1/2 all-purpose flour and 1/2 white whole wheat flour.


Perovskia said...

How did it turn out? Was it good? I keep meaning to make this but never get around to it (y'know, being the queen of procrastination and all) :)

Emikat said...

I was wondering If I can make this with fresh ground whole wheat? Have any idea what the outcome might be? I have a soft white spring wheat I'd like to use

Bix said...

Freshly ground flour, what more could you ask for.

Well, I've tried all whole wheat flour and it was too heavy or dense. I usually had to cut it with white flour. But - as long as you like the result, that's all that counts!

Bix said...

Perovskia, sorry I missed your question first time around. Yes, in fact, this bread is very good, and almost foolproof. I don't make it so much these days, but the memory lasts :)

Perovskia said...

Heh.. no worries! I forgot about it, too, to be honest. Glad it worked out; makes me want to make it. I find, though, I have a problem with things rising because my apartment is very cool. So it'll just take longer, I guess?