I have tried to make bread from scratch many times, and I have failed miserably many times… It’s probably that I don’t knead enough, but whenever I try to make bread from scratch (quick breads excepted), they turn out as dense and heavy as a brick. In the words of the lolcats, homemade bread – FAIL!
And then…. and then… and then I found this amazing NO-KNEAD bread recipe! It’s been making it’s way around the blogosphere with very good results in the past couple of months, though it originally appeared in the NYTimes last fall… It’s not often that innovation happens in the baking world, but this no-knead bread was most-certainly an innovative recipe. Who’d have thought that by being lazy, you could get super delicious, airy, crusty, artisan-style bread?
And oh, this bread is good — it’s light and airy like the best bakery breads, the crust is crisp, and the interior has a beautiful crumb. And best of all, it is SO EASY! Though the recipe takes time (give yourself 24 hours), the active time is only about 20 minutes in total. The patient cook knows, save your energy and let time do the work.
The original NYTimes recipe calls for all-purpose flour, but for the sake of experimentation (and healthiness, and cleaning out the cabinets), I decided to substitute 1 c. of the AP flour with a mixture of wheat and rye flours. I imagine you could experiment here quite a bit with good results — whole wheat flour, potato flour, amaranth flour, rye flour, quinoa flour, rice flour, even mesquite flour (this has a very strong taste so just use a bit) would work well here — but note, the lower the gluten content of the flour you use, the longer you should let it ferment and proof. And note, thought the NYTimes recipe calls for a 6-8 qt pan, I used my 5 qt. Le Creuset pan with great results.
Anyhow, whether you’re a seasoned bread maker or have never tried it before, I encourage you to give this a try — it’s simple, delicious, and versatile. Oh yeah, and you’ll probably get a lot of compliments if you serve it to anyone!! :)
No-Knead Wheat-y Rye Bread
Adapted from NYTimes No-Knead Bread recipe
2 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. rye flour
1/4 t. instant yeast
1 1/4 t. 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.
Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.