Thursday, July 19

Easiest bread in the world

I'm a little ashamed to say that, being new to to the food-blog-o-sphere, I've only recently found out about no-kneed bread. No-kneed bread??! That's right. Now you can have all the benefits of fresh homemade bread without straining your precious forearms! This is my kind of recipe.

Posted by the charming Mark Bittman of the New York Times (Nov, 2006), this is a recipe modified from Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery. One copy of the original recipe (at least original to my knowledge) with more elaborate instructions can be found here or you can google 'no-kneed bread' and come up with a thousand hits.

No-kneed bread
(including my adaptations of Mark's adapations of Jim's recipe)

  • 3 cups bread flour (I used 1 cup each of spelt, whole wheat and white)
  • 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (I used 1 tbsp and it was way too much!)
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1. Mix flour, yeast and salt together in a large-ish bowl.

2. Add water and stir with fork or knife until mixed (takes about 1 min) and looks like sticky, lumpy goop.

3. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm corner of your kitchen to rise for 18 hours (I cut this short and let it rest only for 15 hrs).

Mine looked like this after step 3:

4. Dump out onto a floured surface and fold over a few times, shaping into a rough ball. Let rest for two hours under a floured tea towel (next time, I'll just let it rest in an oiled bowl since it stuck to the towel).

Mine looked like this while resting:

5. Preheat oven along with covered cast iron pot to 450F. Note, I don't have such a pot, so I used a pizza stone. Next time, I'll use either a covered casserole dish or just a regular uncovered loaf pan.

6. Bake for 30 min if uncovered. If covered, take off lid after 30 min and baked for another 15 min until crust is golden and bread sounds hollow when knocked.

Here's my final result. Crust has good crunch without being too hard and the inside has texture somewhere between whole wheat and rye. So far we've had it with salad for lunch, as an oil/vinegar dipper and with butter and jam. Absolutely excellent.

I'll be making this bread every week from now on. I'll experiment with different baking vessels, flours, proportions of salt and additions of wheat bran, oat, flax, herbs, etc... I'll keep you appraised of my findings.

If you happen to make this bread, please post your version, any modifications you made and your impressions. We can experiment together instead of reading the thousands of blog posts and comments already made about this recipe...

7 comments:

  1. This recipe really does live up to its title! The bread looks fabulously yummy. Was it soft despite the no-knead?

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  2. Yes! It's soft, yet hearty.

    Um, not soft like chemical-filled white bread (who wants that anyway?)...more dense like artisanal European bread form the old country :)

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  3. Another
    version
    I made:

    Ingredient changes:
    - 1 cup each of spelt, whole wheat and kamut flour
    - 1 tsp salt
    - 3 tbsp coarsely ground flax seed
    - 3 tbsp wheat germ
    - 2 cups water

    Timing and baking:
    I left it to slow rise for 20 hours, then turned it out onto a floured surface and folded it over a few times. I transfered to an oiled loaf pan and let it rise in the pan for 2 hours.

    Finally, I preheated the oven to 400 F and let it bake for 35 minutes.

    Impressions:
    - there wasn't enough salt this time

    - the flours made it too dense for my tastes and I think 1 cup of white flour really helps the rising of the bread

    - the increase in rising time from 15hrs to 20hrs made no difference

    - the version I baked on the pizza stone was far superior in terms of crust and texture than the one in the loaf pan, but this could likely be a result of the ingredients, not the vessel)

    - baking time in the loaf pan should have been longer than 35 minutes

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  4. Anna, I think you just gave me the justification I need for bying a pizza stone... this may persuade the powers that be (Woz). I can't wait to try out the bread, though no-kneed is not necessary for me, the said Woz is nearly always happy to do it for me. It definitely looks like the stuff you'd get at my grandma's in the Old country. :)

    I made a sundried tomato focaccia bread a couple of days ago and we devoured half of it right away. This led me to believe that I've got to bake a lot more. It's not that the bread was so heavenly (it wasn't bad at all, though), it's that we hadn't had much freshly baked for a long time.

    Reduced salt is my biggest concern right now. Was your feeling that the amount in between your original recipe and "another" verison you made would be sufficient? What made you think that you needed more salt the second time around in particular? What were the "symptoms"?
    Bea

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  5. I re-read the recipe, it IS the same amount of salt as the adaptation of the original bakery recipe. Mybad!
    Bea

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  6. I just made it again yesterday morning (good timing with the comment!) and took a pic of version 3.

    This time I cooked it on the pizza stone again and it rose even more. I used 1 cup each white, whole wheat and kamut flours, a pinch of salt (probably about 1/2 tsp), and just under two cups of water. I coated it with cornmeal and it didn't stick to the towel at all when rising.

    This version tasted just fine with only that much salt. Maybe last time it needed more since it was more dense (no white flour) and the wheat germ may have made it "goszkie" (bitter?).

    I baked this one until it sounded hollow when tapped on the underside (about 30 min), but I should have re-read my impressions from version 2 and baked it about 45 min :(

    Your focaccia sounds awesome...I love sundried tomatoes :) Wanna share the recipe? (hee-hee)

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  7. Very interesting! I'm just making my first bread ever today, waiting for it to grow... 45 minutes left...

    Enjoy your weekend, Margot

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