Ah yes, the weekend. It’s my favorite part of the week! Time to catch up on cleaning, stay up late at music festivals, get up early to go to the farmer’s market (it opened up today!!)… and bake bread.
I’m OBSESSED with bread. I’ve been known to cry from the shear aesthetic experience of eating fresh, good bread. No joke. In high school, I would buy a baguette at the World Market down the street and just munch on it throughout the day. Fred Meyers, World Market, and Safeway… no grocery store was safe from my bread-buying addiction.
One of my all-time fondest memories was when my high school’s drama club went to the amazing Shakespeare festival in Ashland, Oregon. I’ll always remember it… the play was Dead Man’s Cellphone, and in one scene, they bring out an entire giant case of FRESH bread. As it was a small theater-in-the-round, I was only a few feet from it, and I was completely overwhelmed with all. those. smells. I literally thought I had gone to heaven.
Sadly, the only place in Murfreesboro that I’ve found great bread is Panera. (Murfreesboroans! If you know of any good places, shoot me a comment! Please.)
However, you can thank God, Buddha, Allah, Mother Nature, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and/or whatever deities you prefer to worship, because about a year ago, the New York Times published this recipe for No Knead Bread. Finally, I had a recipe that didn’t intimidate me with hours of kneading or complicated steps.
I tried it, and have been HOOKED. No Knead? More like, NO I NEED this in my life all the time.
I’ve made this probably 4 times now—and would have done it more but it’s rare that my schedule allows me to be home in both the evening and the following morning (or just all day in general).
I’ve never had any problems with it, until today (go figure): I’m not sure if it’s because my A/C went out and my apartment temp was 80 degrees, or because I used old yeast (oops), but the bread didn’t rise nearly as much as I’m accustomed to. It was still delicious though!
If you’re not doing anything tonight and tomorrow morning, give this a try!! It’s SO easy–and easy to avoid screwing up.
- 3 cups of all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon of instant yeast
- 1.25 teaspoons of salt
- 1⅝ cups water
- opt. cornmeal/wheat bran for dusting
- In a large bowl, combine the four, yeast, and salt. Stir in 1⅝ cups (1 cup 10 tbsp, or 13oz) water. Cover with plastic wrap for 12-18 hours at room temperature.
- Lightly flour a work surface and place the dough on it. Lightly dust with some flour and fold it over on itself once or twice.* Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Coat a cotton towel with flour, or cornmeal or wheat bran.
- Using some flour to keep the dough from sticking to you or your fingers, shape the dough into a ball and place the dough seam side down (aka top-side down). Cover with another cotton towel, and let rise for about 2 hours. You’ll know it’s ready once it’s doubled in size and not as sticky.
- Place a 6-8qt. covered pot in the oven as it preheats to heats 450 degrees. I don’t have a dutch oven, or a large enough pyrex or cast-iron, so I use the ceramic part of my crockpot.
- Once the oven is at 450, take the pot out and turn the dough over into the pot (so the seam side is now up again). It’ll look messy but that just means you’re going to have a beautiful crust.
- Cover with lid (or if you’re using your crock pot’s ceramic bowl, aluminum foil), and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake 15-30 minutes until the crust is browned. Cool on a rack.
Poco a poco…
I’m including the times I did this so you can get an idea of the time frame involved.
5:00 pm: Mix the dry ingredients together.
Mix together with water and cover overnight!
9:00am: I was a little sloppy, but you can make out where I folded the dough in, aka the “seam.” Re-Cover it with plastic.
9:15am: Flip it over onto a flour-covered cotton towel. Cover with another cotton towel. I actually didn’t have another one, so I just used a clean t-shirt I didn’t really care about.
11:30am: Preheat oven with the ceramic pot from my crockpot in there.
11:45am: Take the pot out and invert the towel over the pot so that the dough plops into the pot. Cover (with oven-safe lid or aluminum foil).
12:15pm: Take cover off
12:40pm: It’s ready! Let it cool on a wire rack.
There are NO WORDS to describe what it’s like to eat homemade bread that you’ve created from scratch. It’s probably what it’s like to have a child and see them win some prestigious award… except more delicious. Again, I made the mistake of using old yeast–I guarantee you that yours will rise to be about 2 times bigger.
I ate it with some jam from my ALL TIME FAVORITE jam company: The Nashville Jam Co. I primarily look forward to the farmer’s market because of three things: Sprouts, Goat Cheese, and jam from this company. So. Good.
Basically what I hear when I’m eating good bread…