Months after The New York Times featured Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread recipe, it's still taking the food blogging world by storm. Last week he was on Martha Stewart. I made a whole wheat verison, which turned out so well I thought I'd make another loaf, simplify it even more, and take more photos.
This version is slightly easier because there's less handling of flour or sticky dough. No-Knead means no need to touch either. Hehe, I'm so clever. You can stir and scrape the dough with a wooden spoon. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and place a towel on top, instead of letting the towel touch the dough.
No more fancy store-bought loaves for me. This bread features a crisp, crackly crust with a chewy inside reminiscent of European artisanal breads.
Even Easier No-Knead Bread
3 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour (For wheat bread, 2 cups white, 1 cup whole wheat.)
1 1/2 cup hot water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp of yeast, the kind sold in packets and jars
You can skip this step entirely and dump all the ingredients together in a bowl. But I think this step helps the yeast activate just a little bit. In my simplified version (ie: lazy), turn on hot water tap in bathroom and when it's hot, measure out 1 1/2 cups water. (This is because I don't have a food thermometer but have found the bathroom hot tap water the perfect temperature for yeast to rise.) Add 1/4 tsp yeast and 1 tsp sugar. Swirl the mixture around a little to activate the yeast. Add 1 tsp salt (more if you want a saltier bread) and flour. Mix thoroughly but quickly. You'll get a sticky, lumpy dough that looks like this.
Cover with plastic wrap and a thick towel and leave it to rise in a warm place for at least 12 hours, ideally 18 or more. Just do it the night before and let it rise while you're asleep and at work the next day. The dough should double in size with lots of bubbles like this.
Liberally flour a cutting board and dump the dough onto the surface, dusting the top again. Cover with plastic and towel again and let it rise for a few hours. You can fold or shape your dough to make it a little more compact but you don't have to. I usually place my cutting board on the stove top where it'll be warmer once I preheat the oven for baking.
Half an hour before you're ready to bake, turn oven to 450 degrees and put your pot in to preheat also. I'm totally loving my 5-quart Dutch oven, but you can substitute with any oven-proof container with lid. A 5-quart size will create a loaf about 10 inches round and 3 to 4 inches high. After two hours, that lump now looks like this.
Take off plastic, dump it into the pot with the lid on. No need to oil the pot, the bread will pull in from the sides and won't stick. After half an hour, take the lid off and bake for another 15 minutes or so until it looks like this. Yes, it's not as pretty and round as my first attempt but looks rustic and yummy anyway.
By baking first with the lid on, steam creates these little air holes in the bread that make it like those European breads.
So very easy right? So start your loaf tonight and I'll post some recipes in the next few days for Indian butter chicken and pumpkin curry for you to dip the bread. But it is just perfect warm from the oven and dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Or slathered with butter and jam. Or just plain.