No-knead Bread

Originally uploaded by louise_marston.

Like the rest of the blog-o-sphere, I have been trying out Jim Lahey’s No Knead Bread recipe over recent weeks. This was first published (with video!) by Mark Bittman in the New York Times, and has since gone several times around the world via various blogs. I took the precaution of using Clothilde’s translation to grams, rather than those unreliable cups, having heard some reports of failures. This is my fourth go with it, and I have found it a very reliable recipe, consistently rising high and developing a very lovely crust. I have also combined it with some sourdough starter to get a slightly sour loaf. I am particularly enthusiastic about it as something that I can realistically tackle during the week, in just the time I have after work, between cooking dinner and eating dinner.

European No-Knead Bread
470g plain flour (I usually use half plain and half bread flour)
350g water = 350ml
10g salt – about 1.5 tsp
1/4 tsp yeast

Mix the salt and yeast into the flour in a large bowl so they are evenly distributed. Pour in the water and mix with your fingers just until you get a single doughy mass that pulls away from the bowl. Then stop. Scrape your fingers off, and cover the bowl with cling film or a tea towel, and leave on your kitchen counter for 12-18 hours. I have left it for 20 hours in a cool kitchen and it was fine. You can make this last thing at night and return to it the next day after work.

Scrape the dough out of the bowl with a spatula, onto a floured worktop. Press the dough down with your fingertips and fold the left side over one third, then the right (like folding a letter). Flatten the dough a little again and fold top to bottom in the same way.

Sprinkle a teatowel with flour and some cornmeal/polenta or wheat bran if you have it. Place the down seam side down on the towel, and fold the edges over it. Leave for 2 hours to rise again. After an hour and a half, take a Pyrex or cast iron casserole dish with a lid, and put it into the cold oven. Heat it as hot as it will go – as close to 250C as you can.

After the 2 hours are up, take out the casserole, use the towel to tip in the dough (you don’t have to be too delicate) and put the hot lid back on. Return to the oven for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for 15 more minutes to brown the top and develop the crust further.

Then take it out and tip onto a wire rack. Allow it to cool before slicing – and eating with lots of butter!

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I’m Louise, and I’m a compulsive baker, cookbook hoarder and a bit of a food geek. I learnt to cook at home, and later at Tante Marie’s cooking school in San Francisco. With a science degree and a background in IT analysis, I like to understand why a recipe works, not just how to do it. Why the rules are there and when they can be broken.

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