Friday, May 21, 2010

Almost No Knead Bread

It's been a long time since I made some bread from scratch. I've missed baking bread after all these months but now that we're settled at our new home and the baby's here, I can get back on the bread baking bandwagon once again. I've had my eye on this recipe for Almost No Knead Bread and I finally took the time to make it. I knew it was an easy recipe but after preparing it, I regret I didn't bake it sooner. This is seriously an easy, no-fail bread recipe that any yeast-fearing baker can attempt successfully!...

This recipe was ridiculously easy... and if there's anything challenging about it, it's testing your patience. Essentially, you mix 6 ingredients in a large bowl to form a shaggy ball of dough. It's covered with plastic wrap and left to sit for 8-18 hours at room temperature. The dough is then kneaded 10-15 times, placed in a skillet to proof for 2 hours at room temperature. Warm up your oven, place the dough in a dutch oven and bake away for no more than an hour. Cool the golden brown bread loaf for about 2 hours and dig in. No stand mixer needed, very little kneading involved and a wonderful, homemade bread is your reward! I look forward to not only enjoying this bread as is and with sandwiches/paninis, I plan on making toasted croutons from a few slices, perhaps some french toast or even bread pudding. If you want to be adventurous, try adding some shredded cheese or herbs to the dough!

* To make ahead/freezer meal - If your household doesn't go through bread very quickly, the good news is that this bread can be frozen too. Once the bread is cooled, tightly wrap in plastic wrap and then with foil. Place wrapped loaf in a freezer bag and freeze. When ready to enjoy, defrost loaf by allowing loaf to come to room temperature.

Almost No Knead Bread
recipe from Cook's Illustrated

3 cups (15 ounces) all purpose or bread flour
1/4 tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. (7 ounces) water at room temp
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. (3 ounces) mild flavored lager
1 Tbs. white vinegar

Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.

Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.

About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes.

Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.