Posted by: heliamphora | 10 April, 2009

You don’t have to knead me, baby.

O hai… it’s been a while.

I’m going to kick off the proceedings with one of my new favourite foods: No-Knead Bread. It rocked my tastebuds’ socks, and completely surprised me with how it turned out, despite the disgusting appearance of the dough. I was so skeptical of its ‘rising’ progress that I let it develop for, uh *ahem* two days longer than the recipe suggested.

This was the best-textured, best-flavoured, least yeasty-smelling bread I’ve ever made, and perhaps even better than some breads I’ve bought. I loves me a good crust, one with a bit of crunch, and plenty of chew to provide a bit of jaw exercise.

Who’d have thought bread could be this good with only four ingredients and no arm-work? Well, I had held hopes for a simple, old-fashioned, sourdough-or-similar kinda recipe for some time. This recipe is a blessing for those of us without the skill or patience to make and keep a real sourdough starter.

No-Knead Bread

No-Knead Bread

Shall I post the recipe here? We-ell, I suppose I can, even though it’s a reiteration of a reiteration of a reiteration of a… you get the picture. The original is out there on the interwebs somewhere, but the recipe hasn’t changed much, anyway.

The way I made it is as follows.

Mix three cups flour (I used organic white stoneground wheat) in a large bowl with one and a half cups of water, one and a half teaspoons salt and a quarter teaspoon of active yeast granules. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth* and place it in a warm, draught-free place for 20 hours. Then stir it about a whole lot with a wooden spoon, ’cause it’ll be too soggy and sticky to handle. Put it back in the warm place. “Rinse and repeat”… for at least half a day, or up to two days(!). When you’ve given up hope that it will ever get airy, turn the oven on to HOT i.e. 220° C / 450° F and preheat a lightly oiled cast iron skillet in it. Tentatively poke and stir the dough some more, then when the oven is hot, take out the skillet and scrape in your sticky doughy mess. Bake for 30 minutes covered, then another 10-20 minutes uncovered, to brown the crust. Take it out of the oven, lift it out of the skillet with a spatula, put it on a plate, wait impatiently until it’s cool enough to handle, then cut off a slice and marvel at the miraculous texture**. Eat some and marvel at the delicious wheaty flavour. The end!

* I realised the necessity of this after leaving it uncovered for the first 20 hours, which left it with an unattractive dry layer on top.

** Note for next time: my bread could have had a better texture if I had followed the instructions for the second rising part – to put it in an oiled bowl or between flour-dusted cloths, so it’ll flop into the skillet relatively intact, instead of being stretched and stirred and mucked about.

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