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Baking bread, no kneading required

October 08, 2008

SULLIVAN STREET BAKERY'S NO KNEAD BREAD



Note: For best results this bread must be baked in a heavy 6- to 8-quart pot with a cover. Lahey recommends (listed in order of most to least preferred): all-ceramic Emile Henry; enameled iron Le Creuset; Lodge pre-seasoned cast iron pot; Pyrex glass casserole.

Start to finish: 21 1/2 hours (10 minutes active)

3 cups bread flour
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups water
Cornmeal, wheat bran or additional flour for dusting
Extra-virgin olive oil, for coating

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, yeast and salt thoroughly. Add water and use a wooden spoon or your hands to mix for at least 30 seconds, or until you have a wet, sticky dough. Add a splash of water, if needed.

Lightly coat the inside of a second large bowl with olive oil and transfer the dough to it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for at least 12 hours or (preferably) up to 18 hours.

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The dough should more than double in size and have little bubbles on the surface.

Dust a work surface with cornmeal, bran or flour. Transfer the dough onto the work surface. Fold the dough once or twice by first lifting the right side and folding it toward the center, then repeat with left, far and near sides. This should produce a ball-shaped dough.

Dust a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) or large cloth napkin with enough cornmeal, bran or flour to prevent sticking. Place the dough on it, seam side down, and lightly dust the dough. Cover it with another towel. Allow the dough to rise for another 1 to 2 hours.

After the dough has risen for 1 hour, preheat the oven 500 degrees. A half hour before the second rise ends, place a covered 6- to 8-quart pot in the hot oven.

When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven. Place it on the stove and remove the cover. Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over into the pot. It may land with a bit of a splat.

Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and continue baking another 20 to 30 minutes, or until the bread is a deep chestnut color.

Use a spatula to lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly before cutting.

Makes 1 loaf.

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