If there was an “Easy Button” bread recipe, this would be it. Bread is not a novice endeavor; there is a reason we buy weekly bread at the grocery. Bread-making can be time consuming, messy and frustrating – even with a bread machine. Before, I had to approach the whole process with an attitude of “whistle while you work”. Making it was reserved for special occasions only. While I still find the extensive kneading, pulverizing, and punching of bread therapeutic, this new recipe requires little more than a mixing bowl and wooden spoon.
The reward of fresh baked bread is well worth the effort. But now they say they’ve cut out the effort. Skeptical at first, I spared the ingredients in the name of experimentation. My faith in this blubbery mass of dough was lukewarm. Without getting my hands dirty, I felt a loss of connection to the dough. But 450 degrees later, my delight in the final product burned through the trepidation. As my knife lay upon the bread dome, I could already hear the crackling of its crust. It began to flake off as I sliced it, revealing a steamy, spongy body. Fresh from the oven, it was an airy, eggy bread – almost like Challah. Every bite was a new crunchy crescendo. Although the crispness wore off as the loaf condensed, it still remains my solid standard for easy bread-making.
Now no one has an excuse for the infrequency of a homemade loaf. Ready? Preheat…BAKE!
No Knead Bread
3 cups bread flour [NOT all-purpose]
¼ tsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt [I added a pinch or two more]
1 tsp sugar
1 ½ cups lukewarm water
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add the water, stir. [Should end up looking like a shaggy, goopy mess]
2. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Place somewhere warm for 12-20 hours.
3. Dump onto a floured surface. Wet hands and fold down in towards the middle, forming a smooth, tight surface.
4. Drape a moist towel over the dough; let it rest and rise again for 2 hours in a warm place. It should double in size.
5. 30 min before the dough is done resting/rising, preheat oven to 450˚F. Place a Dutch Oven [cast iron stove, i.e. something that can withstand the heat – no cheap aluminum or plastic] in as oven is preheating. Makes sure that the pot is either well seasoned, greased, or you put some sort of parchment paper down on the bottom so that it does not stick.
6. After preheating, remove the pot, and plop the blimp-like mass into it. Doesn’t matter how it falls, it will end up looking rugged and rustic regardless.
7. Bake covered for 30 min. Then uncover and bake another 15-20 min. To check, tap the bread [should sound like a low, hollow drum].
8. Remove and let cool. Spread a slab of butter on top and enjoy.
**Note: the crust will be best right from the oven. As it sets, the moisture will soften the crust. To re-crispify, place back in the oven for about 10 min at 350˚F.