No Knead Bread

No Knead bread (the most perfect loaf of bread, ever)

Making bread can be intimidating. How do we do it? How do we achieve a crispy crust? How does yeast work? Do we use a bread maker? What is a bread maker? 

Let me tell you, those are all valid questions until you discover this recipe for no knead bread, from The New York Times. This recipe has four ingredients: flour, water, salt and instant yeast. The tools you need are: a bowl, a pot with a tight fitting lid, a wooden spoon, some parchment paper and an oven - obvs.

This bread takes 5 minutes worth of active work and around 15 hours of totally inactive waiting. During this waiting time you can: watch tv, sleep, read a book, think about bread etc.

While I can't take credit for this recipe, I can say that it is, without a doubt, the best bread I have ever made at home and, maybe, one of the best loaves of bread I have ever eaten - period.

This recipe produces a bread with a thin, crispy crust that makes a crackling sound when it comes out of the oven, a light, airy crumb, a fragrant aroma and the most delicious, savoury bread-y flavour you can imagine. 

I like to start this recipe before I go to bed so most of the work happens at night while I am asleep.

 

Ingredients - No Knead Bread recipe adapted from The New York Times

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting

1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

1 ¼ teaspoons salt

1.5 cups plus 2 tablespoons warm water 

Method

1. in a large mixing bowl combine flour, yeast and salt.

2. add water and stir until blended. the dough will be shaggy and sticky. cover bowl with plastic wrap and a clean tea towel. Let dough rest at least 12 hours at warm, draft free spot. I like to put my bowl in the microwave or oven (please do not use the microwave or oven while the bowl is resting inside)

3. after 12 hours or so, the surface of the dough will look bubbly and dimpled. lightly flour a clean work surface (your countertop or a board) and tip the dough out onto it. As the dough falls from the bowl, it should look stringy.

4. sprinkle the dough with a small amount of flour and lightly fold it over on itself once or twice. cover the mound of dough loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes.

5. dust your hands with flour and gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. note this will be a loose ball and won't hold its shape well at this stage.  Sprinkle a generous amount of flour onto a large square of parchment paper and place the dough, seam side down, onto the parchment. Dust the top with more flour and cover the dough ball with a clean tea towel. let the dough rest for 2 hours.

6. when the dough has rested for 1.5 hours, place a heavy cast iron dutch oven (like a Le Creuset) with a tight fitting lid or an oven safe ceramic dish with a tight fitting lid into the oven and pre-heat to 450°. 

7. when the oven is pre-heated, carefully remove the hot pot from the oven and tip the dough over into the pot. if it looks messy don't stress -  shake pan a little to make sure the dough is evenly distributed. 

8. cover the pot with lid and bake, covered, for 30 minutes. after 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the bread is golden brown and crisp. allow to cool on a wire rack before serving.