No-knead bread, part 2
This no-knead bread is no joke! I seriously doubt I’ll make it many more times, despite its excellent results, because the timing is so complicated. Mixing the dough couldn’t be easier, but try calculating the proofing time. I suppose I could get in a rhythm and bake it twice a week. We’ll see.
Here is what the dough looked like in the Dutch oven, which had been sitting in a 450ºF oven for 30 minutes and was blazing hot. Prior to that, the dough had been between two well-floured kitchen towels for two hours.
Extracting the dough from the towels was kind of a disaster. Mark Bittman says to use enough flour to keep the dough from sticking—this means tons and tons of flour. This dough is so wet and hungry; it inhales flour. You can see how floury that towel is. It didn’t matter.
I got out as much dough as I could and threw it in the oven. Nearly an hour later, we have this ciabatta-looking bread, slipping easily out of the pot, with a nice hollow knock on the bottom. It’s really something to see such a beautiful loaf of bread come out of a Le Creuset pan.
The texture and flavor of the crust and crumb are much better than I expected. My bread doesn’t look at all like the one Jim Lahey made at his bakery, but I don’t care, because I think mine looks better! The directions in the video are slightly different than those below. Lahey says to put your oven to over 500ºF, while Mark only asks for 450º. I may have ended up with a thicker, crustier crust had I pumped up the oven, but I prefer soft things anyway.
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.