Wednesday, November 2, 2011

No-Knead bread

I've never had very good luck with loaves of bread.  While tasty, they always come out a little bit heavy, not moist enough, or both.  Bread also requires a lot of work which, as a modern person used to modern conveniences, I am not really willing to do.

So what I need is to not knead.  Enter the no-knead bread method brought to the table by author and bread-baker Jim Lahey, who revolutionized bread by creating a method so easy, and foolproof that you could literally have fresh home-baked bread in your house every single day.  Without a bread machine or doing more than 5 minutes of actual labor.

The secret is time.  The bread dough is mixed and then left overnight to basically "knead" itself.  Then the dough is baked in a dutch oven to control the moisture and create a moist bread that still has a crispy crust.  Why not try it yourself?  Here is the original 2006 New York Times Article with the basic recipe:  No-Knead Bread.

The recipe is really easy to tweak yourself, or grab a copy of Jim Lahey's book with more no-knead and some sweet bread and other interesting recipes:  My Bread.  There are also many recipes available on the internet, and many other books, too.  While a little primitive and simplistic, I think this method of bread-making will satisfy most people who are tired of flavorless and expensive store-bought bread but who also have no time or patience for cooking.  I'm not a bread-baker, but I do love this recipe.  It's great and leaves you enough time to find your next great cooking adventure.

So how does the bread turn out?  I'll let the pictures tell you themselves:

My first loaf, still in the pot.  I replaced some of the bread flour with 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour to make it a bit healthier.

As the bread cools and the crust shrinks, it makes a fun crackling noise that the book calls "singing".

Amazingly lofty, not heavy at all for home-baked bread!  We've already made sandwiches with handmade charcuterie purchased  from Elephant's delicatessen here in Portland. 

Loaf #2, baked with 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour plus amaranth, sesame seeds, oatmeal and other grains for bite and flavor.

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