Sunday, November 18, 2012

No Knead Bread: A Simple Wonder

This was a first for me--homemade bread that isn't a quick bread (AKA banana bread, apple bread, etc...). I found this recipe on another blog and decided to give it a few tweaks and have my shot at bread making. Needless to say, I was pretty happy about the result, and the Mr. also approved!

This is one of the easiest recipes ever! The only catch is that you need time. You can't rush it, so I wouldn't recommend making this when you're looking to somewhat quickly curb a craving. The recipe is really simple; it's a great base, which means that you can add herbs, nuts, seeds, dried fruit or anything else to your liking.

For my first try, I decided to make two loaves--a whole wheat raisin walnut and a whole wheat rosemary loaf. I used all whole wheat pastry flour, which I think made the bread a bit denser than normal. It tasted great, but I think next time I'll do a mixture of whole wheat and all purpose flour.

(Recipe taken from Bex a Diary and adapted by me)
Makes one 1 1/2 pound loaf

3 cups all- purpose flour [I'd suggest using 2 cups all-purpose and 1 cup whole wheat flour]
1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cup water 
additional flour or cornmeal
ceramic or pyrex dish with an oven safe lid (I used a cookie sheet as the lid)
[you could also use a dutch oven if you'd like]
whatever mix-in's you'd like (see directions for what I used)

1. Combine flour, salt, and yeast in a medium bowl. Mix well. Add water to bowl and mix.
[For the raisin walnut: I added 1 tbs cinnamon, 1/2 cup raisins, and 1/2 cup walnuts to the mix; You'll want to put about a tablespoon of your dried flour mixture in with your raisins and walnuts before mixing it into the main dry mixture, so that they'll evenly distribute themselves throughout the loaf.]
[For the rosemary: I chopped up a few springs of rosemary and mixed it into the dough.]

2. The dough should be sticky and heavy. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rise for 12 to 18 hours, at room temperature. 12 is good but 18 is better. 

3. The dough will rise a good bit and is ready when the surface is dotted with bubbles.
4. Lightly flour your working surface and dump dough from bowl onto the surface. Sprinkle the dough with a bit more flour and fold it over on itself  2- 4 times. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
5. Working with enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands and work surface, quickly work the dough into a ball. Coat generously a kitchen towel {not terry cloth} with flour, or cornmeal (I used a mixture of both). Place the dough seam side down onto the towel and dust the top of the ball with flour. Cover dough with top of the towel and allow to rise for 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is nearly double in size and does not spring back when poked with your finger. 
6. 30 minutes before dough is ready heat the oven to 450*. Place a 6-8 quart covered pot in the oven to warm with the oven. 
7. When the dough is ready remove the pot from the oven and carefully lift the dough off of the towel and gently place into the dish. If it looks a bit messy don't worry, shake the pan a time or two to make sure the dough is distributed evenly. The dough will straighten out as it bakes, cover the pot and place it in the oven. bake with the lid on for 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake an additional 15-20 minutes--or until bread is golden brown. Carefully remove dough from pan and cool on a rack. 
*Note: I sliced the loaves once they cooked, and kept them in an airtight container in the fridge. Whenever you're ready to eat, just pop your slice into a toaster oven for a bit to get it crispy and delish.

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