Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mark Lahey's No-Knead Bread

I have made this a few times now, and it turns out great every time. It probably costs about 50 cents to make, but takes at least 15 hours so plan ahead! I like to chart backwards from the time I want to serve it. Start it at 9:00 or 10:00 pm if you want to serve it for dinner the next day. I think it's best hot out of the oven, spread with butter and maybe some good jam. But it's also good cold, with a thick slice of cheese.

The recipe can be found here, but I want to copy it into this post just in case the NY Times article ever goes away.

I've considered adding raw garlic cloves when initially stirring the dough to together, or maybe sprinkling them over the top just before step 2. What would raw garlic do to the yeast? Would it rot, sitting on the counter for 18 hours? I think the hour long cooking time should be enough to cook anything you threw in there. If you try any variations, leave a comment and let us know?

Mark Lahey's No Knead Bread

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

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