ABOVE: No-knead bread. Check out the photo at the bottom of my post from my aunt Sue in Denver, apparently she’s an expert. I’ll have to manage to visit more often than once every ten years.
So-called “no-knead bread,” has garnered something of a cult following since Jim Lahey of Sullivan St. Bakery (and now the pizzeria, Co.) teamed up with the Times’ Mark Bittman for an installment of his Minimalist column.
I jumped on the bandwagon a couple of years later, but this has become something of an obsession at times. The large, round loaf it yields is absolutely stunning. And ridiculously easy to bake (if you have a cast-iron Dutch oven). NOTE: If you don’t have a Dutch oven, you really need to get one. They are very versatile and indestructible. Money well spent.
I have written about this before and there are dozens of variations on the food blogs and message boards, but America’s Test Kitchen recently aired a recipe to correct some of the problems, specifically the lack of true bite and yeasty flavor of artisan breads. The recipe is essentially the same, but includes a little beer (a light lager) and a tablespoon of white vinegar.
FROM THE TEST KITCHEN:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
7 ounces tap water (room temperature)
3 ounces beer
1 tablespoon white vinegar
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix in the wet with a spatula. Cover. Let rise for 8 to 24 hours.
THE NEXT DAY:
Line a 10-12″ skillet with parchment sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray. On a floured work surface, knead the dough just a few times (10 times, or so). From the dough into a ball and place on the parchment and lightly cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for two more hours.
Pre-heat your oven to 500-degrees. About 30 minutes before you are going to bake the bread, place the Dutch oven (with lid) on the lowest rack. When it is time to bake, lift the dough ball (parchment and all) and place it in the Dutch oven. Cover and let bake for 30 minutes at 425-degrees. Remove the lid and bake for another 15-30 minutes until the loaf is deep brown in color.
P.S. The parchment trick is pretty clever. The last time I baked this bread without the parchment, when I plopped the dough into the Dutch oven, a fine cloud of corn meal blew back at me. Let me tell you, having cornmeal in your eyes is extremely unpleasant.