Wednesday, February 2, 2011

almost no-knead bread

When I say that this bread is EASY to make, I mean it!!! It. Is. So. Easy. Although you do have to think ahead of time, 8 - 20 hours, from when you want to smother it with butter and float into carb heaven. The original recipe of this amazing loaf is adapted from Jim Lahey's Sullivan Street Bakery and this version comes by the way of America's Test Kitchen.

Almost No-Knead Bread
An enameled cast-iron Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid yields best results, but the recipe also works in a regular cast-iron Dutch oven or heavy stockpot. Use a mild-flavored lager, such as Budweiser (mild non-alcoholic lager also works). The bread is best eaten the day it is baked but can be wrapped up in aluminum foil and stored in a cool, dry place for up to 2 days.

Makes 1 large round loaf
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces), plus additional for dusting work surface
1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (7 ounces), at room
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mild-flavored lager (3 ounces)
1 tablespoon white vinegar

1. Whisk flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add water, beer and vinegar. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, 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. ***I sometimes place my bowl in the oven (cold and OFF setting) with a pot or bowl of hot water to aid in the proofing stage. Especially if your kitchen/home is as cold as it is outside***

2. Lay a doubled sheet of 12 x 18-inch parchment paper inside a 10-inch skillet or large bowl and spray with nonstick cooking spray. ***At this point, you can also dust with flour, wheat germ, cornmeal or oats*** Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into a ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet/bowl and spray surface of dough with non-stick 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, 2 hours.

3. About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven to rack to lowest position, place a 6 to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid that has a metal handle, not plastic) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and using a razor blade or very sharp knife, make a 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 center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. ***Many of you may not have an instant-read thermometer. You will probably be baking it more towards 30 minutes*** Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. 

Thank you America's Test Kitchen for providing the Step-by-Step illustrations.

Step-by-Step: Almost No-Knead Bread

MIX: Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a spatula.

REST: Leave the dough to rest for eight to 18 hours.

KNEAD: Knead the dough 10 to 15 times and shape it into a ball.

LET RISE: Allow the dough to rise for two hours in a parchment paper-lined skillet.

BAKE: Place the dough in a preheated Dutch oven and bake it until it's deep brown.

Step-by-Step: Bread Sling

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