It almost sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? One of the bigger trends in bread-making over the past few of years has been no-knead bread. I have friends who’ve tried it, family members who have raved about it and we’ve even written about it in past CC newsletters – but it wasn’t until this past week that I tried it for myself.
The recipe was developed by Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery in New York, and in 2006 when Mark Bittman posted the recipe in the New York Times, it quickly went viral as people discovered they could too bake beautiful rustic artisan bread at home. Even if you love the process of mixing, kneading and making bread – you’ll appreciate this recipe because of its simplicity. The recipe calls for combining flour, yeast, salt and water and letting it ferment on the counter for 12 to 18 hours. Lahey’s technique requires almost no contact with the dough and a long rising time before it bakes in the oven.
I substituted a little whole-wheat flour for bread flour (2 ½ cups bread flour and ½ cup whole wheat flour) and it turned out wonderfully. At Cook Culture right now, we carry the True Grain Mill flours, grown and milled locally in the Cowichan Valley.
Also, you can sign up now for our next bread baking class, a little twist on the usual with this Basic Indian Breads with Khalil Ahktar on Sept. 9.
No Knead Bread by Jim Lahey, Sullivan Bakery
3 cups (430g) flour
1½ cups (345g or 12oz) water
¼ teaspoon (1g) yeast
1¼ teaspoon (8g) salt
olive oil (for coating)
extra flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal (for dusting)
Two medium mixing bowls
6 to 8 quart pot with lid (Pyrex glass, Staub* enamel cast iron, or ceramic)
Wooden Spoon or spatula (optional)
Two or three cotton dish towels (not terrycloth)
Mix all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add water and incorporate by hand or with a wooden spoon or spatula for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Lightly coat the inside of a second medium bowl with olive oil and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest 12-18 hours at room temperature (approx. 65-72°F).
Remove the dough from the bowl and fold once or twice. Let the dough rest 15 minutes in the bowl or on the work surface. Next, shape the dough into ball. Generously coat a cotton towel with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal; place the dough seam side down on the towel and dust with flour. Cover the dough with a cotton towel and let rise 1-2 hours at room temperature, until more than doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 450-500°F. Place the cast-iron pot in the oven at least 30 minutes prior to baking to preheat. Once the dough has more than doubled in volume, remove the pot from the oven and place the dough in the pot seam side up. Cover with the lid and bake 30 minutes then remove the lid and bake 15-30 minutes uncovered, until the loaf is nicely browned.
A few notes: You may prefer more salt. Mark Bittman, who worked with Jim Lahey to popularize this recipe, says you can use less than a tablespoon in this recipe and still be fine. He also likes a longer second rise (up to 4 hours) - the dough should spring back slowly when you poke it. Also, semolina flour makes an excellent non-stick dusting if you're not fond of the hard crunch of cornmeal. Websites on no-knead technique are blooming like runaway yeast, but before you go look them up - mix your first batch of this dough and get started!