Almost No Knead Bread

There aren’t very many things I am afraid to attempt, recipe-wise.  I’ve triumphantly conquered chicken-fried steak.  I’ve made my own pork dumplings.  I will modestly tell you that I have made the Best Molasses Cookies In The Entire World.  I have successfully cooked with Fritos, and my family has survived.

But there is one thing that still really intimidates me, and that is BREAD. 

I’m not sure why, although I think it might be the whole thing with the yeast and the rising.  It’s NERVEWRACKING!  You stir up the yeast and the flour and the water and the salt, and there are all these dire warnings about measurements and temperature, and you spend the next few hours circling around it to see if the dang thing is going to RISE or not.  Sometimes it does…and sometimes it doesn’t.  It’s just all too anxiety-provoking for me, and yet I keep coming back to it all, because when it works, there is nothing quite as fabulous as a slice of warm, homemade bread and butter.

Then I came across the Cooks Illustrated recipe for No-Knead bread, which was inspired by a recipe in The New York Times, but being Cooks Illustrated, they took the recipe apart and put it back together again in a fool-proof way.  Here’s the drill: you mix up flour, yeast, water, a little beer and a little vinegar in a bowl.  Cover it with plastic wrap and then go do something else for 18 hours.  (Yes, 18 hours).  Then knead it about 10 times, just enough to make it come together into a nice smooth ball.  Put it on a piece of greased parchment paper, cover it again and go find something else to do for another two hours.

Thirty minutes before baking time, take your handy dutch oven and put it in the oven and set the temperature to 500.  (Yes, 500.)  When it is time to bake, take the Dutch oven out of the oven Very Carefully and using the parchment, lay the dough in the pot and cover it up.  Put the pot back in the oven and lower the temp to 425.  Bake with the cover on for 30 minutes, and then another 20 or so with the cover off.  At the end of this lengthy process,  you will have a perfect, round loaf of delicious country style bread.

I think my days of being intimidated by yeast are over. 


Almost No Knead Bread

Almost No Knead Bread

Ingredients

3 cups flour(15 ounces), plus additional for dusting work surface
1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (7 ounces), at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons beer(3 ounces)
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Directions

1. Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar.
2. Stir ingredients together with a wooden spoon until it forms a shaggy looking ball. You may have to coax it together with your hands at the end.
3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours. Really.
4. Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside a 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
5. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet.. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has risen a bit more, about 2 hours.
6. About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees.
7. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven.
8. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown, about 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. If you can wait that long.

Recipe adapted just slightly from Cooks Illustrated

Comments

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  1. Fun and Fearless in Beantown says:

    I'm totally with you on baking yeast breads. I find it totally intimidating but I've found some great recipes with King Arthur Flour and I've made a no-knead bread..and even baguettes!

  2. I need to find a metal knob for my Dutch oven as I had written this down awhile ago. Thanks for reminding me :)

  3. PoetessWug says:

    YAY for you!!!…I'm still intimidated by it! That's why I make buttermilk cornbread instead! ^_^ But this looks like it would really be a winner for the brave and non-intimidated!!

  4. I hear ya loud and clear! For me, it's finding a place warm enough for it to rise. I so want to make bread. Maybe this is the one.

    • My electric oven (off) with just the light on is just warm enough (and draft free) for raising bread. Don’t try to rush it. Slow raising develops much greater flavor.

  5. I used to be intimidated by yeast also. And then I found no-knead. And it's wonderful. But then after that. I found kneaded bread. And it's even MORE wonderful. You'll get there girl! This is just the gateway drug…

  6. Nancy Baggett says:

    Hope you'll stop by my site and try my version of the country pot boule. It is easier than either of the two you mentioned, and some say tastier, too. The recipe–a free sample from my Kneadlessly Simple cookbook–is in the recipe archives. Happy Baking!

  7. I think I can do this…I know I can do this…I need to do this… Who doesn't love a fresh loaf of bread??? This looks delicious and I am hoping I can pull it together and make this!

  8. Nutmeg Nanny says:

    I'm crazy scared of bread. I have yet to attempt it….

    This recipe looks perfect and very tasty. I might just have to give it a whirl :)

  9. I make bread every week. Haven't bought bread in over a year! I cheat and use my bread machine to make the dough and the allow to rise in a bread pan and bake in the oven. I think this recipe is worthy of setting the machine aside for next week's loaf!

  10. I love bread, any kinds of bread. .I think this is perfect! I know my mum would love this

  11. This bread looks marvelous! Leave it to Cook's Illustrated to bang out an awesome recipe!

  12. I tell you I am TERRIFIED. TERRIFED. of yeast. I have this recipe and have had it for a couple years, but I cannot bring myself to try it because I AM SURE this "no fail" recipe will, in fact, fail under my hands. BUT I am going to do it anyway, maybe Friday when everyone is shopping (NOT ME!! YUCK). Wish me luck.

  13. alliumstozinnias says:

    Another easy bread recipe comes from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, also featured in the NY Times. Bet your library has a copy. Otherwise: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/

  14. Just made this – it was fantastic! I didn’t have a dutch oven, so I made it on the pizza stone and put a bowl of water in there to give it some moisture. I pre-heated the pizza stone at 500 degrees and then turned it down to 425 when I put the bread in. I baked it for around 40 minutes. Thanks for the recipe – it’s so easy!

    • Kristy, I’m so glad! I’ve gotten into the habit of making it on Saturday afternoon and baking it on Sunday…bread for the week! Thanks for your suggestions for folks who don’t have a dutch oven. :-)

  15. Whoa! You had Nancy Baggett visiting and inviting you to her site??? I am so impressed! Go you!

    I grew up with my grandmother making all our bread. I learned how to do it before I was tall enough to reach the counter to knead the dough, which, BTW, I enjoy — very stress relieving. She used the regular yeast, not instant-rapid rise-etc., so you mixed it with warm water first to “proof” it. If it didn’t foam up a little in the water, it was dead and your bread would not rise.

    Knowing before hand could save you some money on wasted ingredients and some frustration, too. I had someone give me some of the “instant” yeast to try when it first came out. Sometimes the dough would rise, sometimes it wouldn’t. The heck with that. I’m sticking with the old-fashioned stuff so I can see ahead of time if it will work. ;) That little bit of rising time saved just isn’t worth all the angst when it fails. Just call me a culinary reactionary.

    • Everyone should march to the beat of their own drummer, bread-wise! You must have some wonderful memories of bread-making with your grandmother…my grandma memories are about molasses cookies! :)

  16. I am thinking you could also bake this on a heated pizza stone rather than a dutch oven. Just a thought……..

    • Hmm…not sure about that. I think the closed environment inside the Dutch oven might have something to do with how the bread bakes. But if you try it with the pizza stone and it works, will you let us know?

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