The summer newsletter from our local library included a review of the book "My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method" by Jim Lahey. I was intrigued, so I checked it out. I made the first loaf and I WAS HOOKED. So was hubby. We returned the library copy and purchased our own.
The bread is the best crusty, artisan bread. The hardest thing? Waiting for it to cool before you cut it. Some pointers on this method:
- Allow plenty of time - it can take up to 26 hours. PLAN AHEAD
- Cool completely, as directed in the book. It really does squeak, you really do need to wait for it to be silent.
- If your stove has a buzzer to tell you when it is preheated, allow it to heat at least 15 minutes more to ensure all surfaces of the stove and the pot are at the proper temperature.
- If possible, do this by weight.
Here is the basic recipe. For step by step pictures, in depth descriptions of the process, other options (wheat, rye), and excellent recipes, please purchase the book.
3 cups bread flour (400 grams)
1 1/4 tsp table salt (8 grams)
1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 gram)
1 1/3 cup cool water - 55 to 65 degrees (300 grams)
wheat bran, cornmeal or additional flour for dusting
In a medium flour, stir together flour, salt and yeast. Add water and mix with a wooden spoon or your hand until you have a wet, sticky dough. If not sticky, add another tablespoon or two of water. Cover with a tea towel and let sit at room temperature out of direct sunlight until surface is bubbly - 12 to 18 hours (I have gone up to 20).
When bubbly, generously dust a work surface with flour. Use a bowl scraper to scrape the dough onto the floured surface in one piece. Do not add flour. Use lightly floured hands to lift the edges of the dough in toward the center. Nudge and tuck until it is round.
Place a cotton or linen tea towel next to your ball and dust with your dusting material. Place dough ball on towel, dust lightly on the top then wrap loosely with the towel. Allow to rise for 1 to 2 hours until almost doubled.
Half an our before the bread is risen, put a 4.5 to 5.5 quart cast iron dutch oven with a lid in your oven. Turn oven to 475 degrees.
When bread is risen and stove is hot, remove dutch oven, remove lid. Carefully invert bread into dutch oven. Cover with lid, return to oven. Bake 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until chestnut colored.
Remove from oven and carefully remove to a cooling rack.
DO NOT CUT UNTIL BREAD STOPS SQUEAKING.