Bread. It deserves so much more than I can give it here in this paltry blog post. There are religious, cultural, and now dietary rants centered around this mythical mix of flour, water, and yeast, (and maybe another ingredient or two…salt? honey?).
Some day I plan on writing a complete thesis on bread, but I am going to leave that for some other time when I can fully come to grips with all of the history and meaning that surrounds bread and its cousins and why it brings so many people together, and now tears so many apart.
Today, though, I want to talk about a recipe for a very simple loaf of bread that you can (and should) make every week. After making this bread once, you won’t even shell out the $3-6 it costs to get awesome artisanal bread from a local bakery. Don’t get me wrong, if you can’t or won’t make bread at home, then you absolutely must start buying better bread at the store. My home keeps a couple of loaves of sandwich bread (Dave’s Killer or course) and at least one loaf of artisanal bread that we use for dinner, to soak up leftover sauces and soups, and general snacking.
This recipe for No Knead Bread was “made famous” by an article written several years ago in the NY Times by the great food writer Mark Bittman about a local baker, Jim Lahey, from the Sullivan Street Bakery. This basic bread recipe has appeared in countless newspapers, magazine articles, co0k books, and of course throughout the blogosphere since. Most recently I have seen it in Greg Atkinson’s At the Kitchen Table book, the Dinner: A Love Story blog, and my very own father ripped out an article from the Spokesman-Review the other day and mailed it to me (yes mail, stamps, etc.)!
This bread is SO EASY to make and is SO WORTH the little effort it takes to make it, that you will feel like equal parts grandmother and hipster baker in one bite. The time that it takes to let the dough develop its flavor yields a tangy, almost sourdough-like quality that you simply won’t be able to get enough of.
Homemade “No Knead” Artisan Bread
3 cups bread flour (or 2 cups bread, 1 cup whole wheat)
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp kosher salt (sea is fine too)
1 5/8 cups tepid (lukewarm) water
1 In mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until blended.
2 Dough will be a little tacky and goofy looking.
3 Cover with plastic wrap (or inverted larger bowl) and let stand for at least 8 but up to 24 hours.
4 After 8 hours, turn dough into itself several times (this means fold the edges to the middle until all sides are now in the middle). Recover for balance of time. If you let go the full 24 hours, the bread will have more of a sourdough-like taste as the fermentation will deepen the flavor.
5 Turn out onto a floured board and pull sides into the middle. Invert, seam sides down.
6 Meanwhile, set your oven to 450 degrees and place your dutch oven, with lid, inside. After preheated (about 30 minutes), take dutch oven out, dust the bottom with flour, and place dough inside. Place lid back on top.
7 Bake in oven for 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake for another 10-15 minutes.
8 Remove from oven and turn out to a cooling rack. If you tap bottom of bread and it sounds hollow, this means it is done.
If you liked this post, you may also enjoy these links:
My post on making Challah, the beautiful twisty bread the Jews use to celebrate Shabbat.