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The Miracle Bread

Tuesday, June 23, 2009
No-Knead Bread

After putting it in a corner to wait for better times, I finally had the chance to try this recipe that about 2 years ago has started spreading like crazy through foodblogs from all over the planet.
Now I wonder why it took me so long to venture into this experiment, since it seems like I can't live without this bread anymore. Oh, yeah, I remember, it must have been because after moving BY MYSELF (yu uhhhhhh!), I lived several months without pots, pans, measuring tools or gadgets of any kind. I had thought that maybe it was more urgent to get a bed, a mattress and a couple of chairs (to tell you the truth I managed to add a pair of boots to the list of things that I needed to buy with maximum urgency, but this is another story...)

Flour, water, salt and yeast, a couple of swirls with your hand, sbam! Done. The rest of the job it's the bread that does it by itself, so I'll have more time to go to the movies or to do some more shopping : )
The credit of spreading this miraculous process through the ether goes to Mark Bittman, aka The Minimalist. He's the one who published it on the NY Times, adapting it from Sullivan Street Bakery in NY. From there the recipe took a life of its own, and the NKB (No Knead Bread) has come out of the oven in Manhattan and Portland, passing through Naples, Cordoba and San Paolo, to finally land in my tiny studio on 30th Street, Noe Valley, San Francisco.

You can find the video with the explanation here. Enjoy the show.

No-Knead Bread
for 1 loaf of about 750 gr.

all purpose flour 430 gr.
water 345 gr.
salt 9 gr.
instant dry yeast 1 gr.
cornmeal or wheat bran for dusting

First of all, check your appointments for the next day and make sure you plan them around bread time. This is the most difficult part, the rest, as it's been pointed out many times before, is so easy even a four year old kid could do it.

In a bowl, mix flour, salt and water. I've used a third whole wheat flour and two thirds white flour. You can change the proportions, but keep in mind that whole wheat flour rises less and makes bread more dense. Next time, I will try to increase the quantity of whole wheat flour and see how far I can go to still get nice holes in the crumb.
Add water and briefly mix with your hand until everything is incorporated, but DO NOT KNEAD (otherwise, what kind of no knead bread is it?).
Cover with plastic and let it rise from 12 to 18 hours, depending on the room temperature. The dough will be wet and sticky, with bubbles all over its surface.

The next day, shed the dough on a cotton towel generously dusted with cornmeal or wheat bran, or a combination of the two (you can also add other kinds of seeds of your choice, like flax or fennel). Fold the dough as shown in the video, flip it so that the seam faces down, dust with more flour, cover with the towel and let it rest for another two to three hours.
Preheat the oven and the baking dish (preferably use a cast iron one, but pyrex will be fine as well) at 450, both need to be piping hot when you are ready to bake.
Using the cloth, flip the dough in the pan very quickly, so that the seam faces up, cover with the lid and put the pan in the oven. After 30 minutes, take off the lid and keep baking for another 15 to 30 minutes until you get a nice brown and crunchy crust. Let it cool on a rack before slicing.
Spread it with jam, bite and congratulate yourself : )
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