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by on February 20th, 2011

No Knead Bread

Who doesn’t like homemade bread!

AND who wants to knead bread if they don’t have to?

My oldest son Scott turned me on to this recipe a couple of years ago. He had seen this recipe in the New York Times and emailed me about it.

Ahhh, email. What would we do without it? Just think, we use to sit down with paper and pen and actually write down our thoughts, put them in an envelope, lick it, add a stamp and wait at least a week for the letter to get to it’s destination. Now, with a click of a key we can send and receive information in a matter of seconds.

People have all sorts of criteria of what makes a good restaurant. Some people judge a restaurant on it’s ambiance, some on the length of the menu or the amount of draft beers they have on tap. I personally size up a restaurant on whether their bread is homemade (and good) or something that is purchased and thrown in the oven. We had dinner at Babbo (Mario Batali’s restaurant) in New York a few years ago. I called about a month before to get reservations and the only time slot we could get was around 9:30 that evening.  So, we get there, have a table right next to the bar and front door (not good) and then they bring out the bread.  BURNED. You could smell it long before it even made it to the table. I started looking around at other people’s tables and they also had burned bread. I wondered how in the world they could served bread that looked like that. Needless to say, it ruined the rest of the meal which turned out to be only so/so anyway. Bread is the first thing a person usually taste in a restaurant and I think it should be memorable.

So, back to my bread story. When I talked to my son, he said “this bread is really good, and you don’t have to knead it; you just let it rise for 24 hours”. I remember saying, “but I can make bread in about 3 hours and just knead it about 20 minutes” to which he said, “but that isn’t as much fun”.

He makes his bread in a large le Cruset Dutch oven. Since I don’t have any le Cruset, I’m using my Staub ugly chicken cooker which will work just fine. You can really use any heavy pot.

This bread has an artisan look and a nice crunchy crust. He has added cheese, onions and even olives to this recipe. I’m adding some fresh Rosemary along with some black olives.

So, without that much work, a little flour, yeast and water, you can produce this wonderful no knead artisan bread. Now, make sure you set out a stick of butter so it’s nice and soft for your hot out of the oven bread.

I knew this ugly chicken cooker would come in handy some day other than roasting chicken in it.

Either use your hands or a whisk to mix the flour, yeast and salt together before adding your liquid.

This is what the dough look like after you have added your chopped rosemary and olives.

Ugly chicken busy at work hatching some delicious bread.

And hereeeeee it is.

I think I’m one of those people who likes to make bread from scratch. I usually go for recipe that aren’t “quick and easy”. This recipe isn’t quick but it is very easy to make. I think on a cold winter day, or damp rainy day when there is nothing else to do, I enjoy making bread and the knead process. I like the texture and the feel of the bread when you have to knead it. I didn’t eat this bread but gave it to a friend for dinner the night I made it.

If you try this bread and like it or have any other comments, please post them to the blog. Thanks.

(Recipe Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery)

No Knead Bread

3 c. all purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp. salt
cornmeal or wheat bran as needed
1-2 tsp. fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 c. drained and chopped black olives

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°.

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°. Put a 6-8 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 150-30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.   Yields: One 1 1/2 pound loaf.

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