Sunday, April 14, 2013

No Knead Bread - So Easy, So Tasty!

I have always thought of baking bread as something too complicated and long for my amateur efforts.  Yeast, kneading, what?  Too intimidating!  But thanks to the magic of Pinterest, I stumbled across the famous no-knead bread recipe that has been much written about.  Seriously, this bread is so easy and yet it's also incredibly tasty!  It yields a flavorful bread with a thick crispy crust and a soft bready interior.  While the original recipe only calls for four ingredients (just four - so easy!), it also opens itself up for lots of delicious modifications.  Trust me, if I can do this, you can do this!  

Servings: Not sure what to say here.  It's about 10 inches in diameter, but that's really based on the size of my Dutch oven.  And when I make this, it doesn't last long so this is the first time that I simply don't know what to say for serving size.  It's a loaf and it's good.  

Ingredients:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon instant/rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 cups water

Instructions:
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 cups flour, 1 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp of yeast.  
  • Add 1 1/2 cups water and mix until just combined.  This will be a sticky and "shaggy" mess but don't worry that's how it's supposed to look.  
  • Cover bowl with plastic wrap or towel and let rise for 12-18 hours.  (I usually mix this the night before I plan to bake the bread.  This requires some planning in advance!)
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Make sure that your Dutch oven can withstand such high heat.  Some enamel ones don't have knobs that can handle such high heat.  I use a Lodge Dutch oven.  The earlier models had plastic knobs but the more recent ones have metal knobs.
  • After oven has heated, place Dutch oven with lid in oven and heat for 30 minutes.  The Lodge Dutch oven says to never heat while empty but I've done so without any problems.  I know some people will heat it with water inside and then when ready will dump the water and then place the dough.  
  • While your Dutch oven is heating, place the dough onto a heavily floured surface and tuck the ends to shape the dough into a cute, tight ball.  
  • Cover dough ball with the plastic wrap or towel from before and let rise again.  The dough should rise to almost double it's size.
  • When Dutch oven and dough are ready, drop the dough into the Dutch oven.  This can be a bit tricky because the dough is so sticky and messy.  Either heavily flour your hands or wet them completely with water.  I like flouring because the flour transfers onto the dough and yields that pretty floury finished look.  Some of my messiest drops have ended up with the prettiest loafs! I've also used parchment paper when forming the dough into a ball and then using the parchment paper to transfer the loaf.  This makes it much easier, but my loaves look prettier when I just drop them into the Dutch oven.
(See the loaf is all neat and cute when using the parchment paper technique but it's a bit too perfect and smooth for my taste)
  • Cover and place back in the oven for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes remove lid and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Remove bread from Dutch oven and place on cooling rack to cool.  Don't cut into the bread until it's fully cooled!  Cutting into it too soon will result in a gummy interior.  Just try to distract yourself from the heavenly smells.  The bread is cooled once it stops making that enticing crackly sound.  
  • Enjoy!

Here are a few photos of the first loaf I made using the parchment paper technique:
This is a bit too neat and perfect for me.  Much as I prefer in all aspects of my life, I like a bit of messy and unique.  

One of the great things about this recipe is that you can customize it however you want.  I've added cheese to this recipe (I like to add after the first rise so the cheese isn't sitting out overnight, but it's harder to add in. And some people add the cheese in the initial mixture and haven't had any problems with that), done a cranberry and almond version, and a cheese and rosemary version.  The most popular ones among my family are the regular version and the cheese and rosemary version.

(Plain on the left and cheesy one on the right)
Last snowstorm we had here (Snowquester) I had the day off from work and so I made a loaf of bread.  I dumped the dough into the Dutch oven real sloppily and yet surprisingly this one was my favorite one!  Love the heavily floured surface with the cracks and ridges.

Nothing better on a cold and dreary day than freshly baked bread.  My apartment smelled amazing!
Even Rosy was entranced!
What to do with all this bread?  Well other than slowly gnawing on the entire loaf you can also slice it up to use for sandwiches!
That same snowy day I made a delicious breakfast sandwich using the bread, a couple fried eggs (with runny yolk of course), turkey bacon, baby spinach and a nice dose of salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce.
De-freakin-licious!
Sunny was passed out in a deep sleep, but Rosy was begging for some crumbs.  I may or may not have given her some bacon crumbs.
This bread is so easy and so awesome.  It just involves some advance planning to allow adequate rising time.  Afterwards I like to keep the bread by either wrapping it in a dish towel, keeping it in the Dutch oven, or just placing it cut side down on the cutting board.  If you wrap it up in plastic it'll keep but the crust will lose that wonderful crunchiness.  To keep the crust crisp, I recommend keeping it out on the cutting board, in the Dutch oven, or wrapped in a dish towel.  If you wrap it in the dish towel the cut end will get a bit crispy and stale though.

Please try this and experiment with delicious flavors and tell me all about it!  This bread is so easy and yet so yummy!

Recipe from Simply So Good (and originally from Sullivan Street Bakery).

6 comments:

  1. This looks fantastic! I make a lot of bread, but this is the first time that I've seen a Dutch oven involved! Interesting! Just when you think you've seen it all...lol. I'm adding this to my must-try list! Your girls are gorgeous, btw! :D

    -Nicole

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Nicole! The dutch oven is awesome because it helps the bread develop that amazing crust.

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