Wednesday, August 10, 2011

No Knead Crusty Bread

When I first heard of this recipe, I thought it was too good to be true. How can you have great bread with out kneading? I've made yeasty bread before, but the texture was a little more dense then I would have liked. I wasn't sure if this was due tot he fact that I went crazy kneading or if I didn't do it enough - a lot of recipes do not tell you how long to knead, especially if you are using a kichenaid! I've made bagels too (are you wondering how to make you own? I'll show you soon!), which were fantastic hot and crispy out of the oven, but I wanted to expand my yeast bread baking further.

This is one of those recipes where I bet you have everything you need in your pantry already. All you need is a big bowl, salt, flour, yeast and hot water. Seriously, that's it. Oh wait, you'll need a spoon to mix it all up too. But see, that's it. You mix it all up, let it rise for about two hours and then stick it in the fridge for at least 24 hours, but longer is better. My sister says if you can leave it in the fridge for up to a week. The more you let it sit, the more it becomes like sourdough. YUM! There is also a whole wheat recipe that I am dying to try out too!

you only need a few ingredients to make homemade bread

yeast and warm water - it's starting to bloom!

bread mixed and ready to rise. yes, that is a shower cap.

after two hours, the bread has risen!

in the fridge ready to get all bready delicious.

baked and ready to eat! this was great with the BLT's we had. next time I will cook it just a bit longer.

No-Knead Crusty White Bread (

3 cups lukewarm water
6 1/2 to 7 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
The flour to liquid ratio is important in this recipe. If you measure flour by sprinkling it into your measuring cup, then gently sweeping off the excess, use 7 1/2 cups. If you measure flour by dipping your cup into the canister, then sweeping off the excess, use 6 1/2 cups. Most accurate of all, and guaranteed to give you the best results, if you measure flour by weight, use 32 ounces.
1) Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, or a large (6-quart), food-safe plastic bucket. For first-timers, "lukewarm" means about 105°F, but don't stress over getting the temperatures exact here. Comfortably warm is fine. "OUCH, that's hot!" is not. Yeast is a living thing - treat it nicely.
2) Mix and stir everything together to make a very sticky, rough dough. If you have a stand mixer, beat at medium speed with the beater blade for 30 to 60 seconds. If you don't have a mixer, just stir-stir-stir with a big spoon or dough whisk till everything is combined.
3) Next, you're going to let the dough rise. If you've made the dough in a plastic bucket, you're all set — just let it stay there, covering the bucket with a lid or plastic wrap; a shower cap actually works well here. If you've made the dough in a bowl that's not at least 6-quart capacity, transfer it to a large bowl; it's going to rise a lot. There's no need to grease the bowl, though you can if you like. It makes it a bit easier to get the dough out when it's time to bake bread.
4) Cover the bowl or bucket, and let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 hours. Then refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, or for up to about 7 days. (If you're pressed for time, skip the room-temperature rise, and stick it right into the fridge). The longer you keep it in the fridge, the tangier it'll get. If you chill it for 7 days, it will taste like sourdough. Over the course of the first day or so, it'll rise, then fall. That's okay, that's what it's supposed to do.
5) When you're ready to make bread, sprinkle the top of the dough with flour, this will make it easier to grab a hunk. Grease your hands, and pull off about 1/4 to 1/3 of the dough — a 14-ounce to 19-ounce piece, if you have a scale. It'll be about the size of a softball, or a large grapefruit. (I did not have a scale and just eyeballed it).
6) Plop the sticky dough onto a floured work surface, and round it into a ball, or a longer log. Don't fuss around trying to make it perfect. It will be good no matter what!
7) Place the dough on a piece of parchment or onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sift a light coating of flour over the top. This will help keep the dough moist as it rests before baking.
8) Let the dough rise for about 45 to 60 minutes. It won't appear to rise upwards that much. Rather, it'll seem to settle and expand. Preheat your oven (and baking stone, if you're using one) to 450°F while the dough rests.
9) When you're ready to bake, take a sharp knife and slash the bread 2 or 3 times, making a cut about 1/2" deep. The bread may deflate a bit, but that's okay, it'll pick right up in the hot oven.

There are lots of steps, but it's really easy and so worth the wait. Next time I will definitely keep this in the fridge for at least 3 or 4 days so I can get more of that sourdough tanginess. There's no doubt about it, you knead need to make this!

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