Crusty No-Knead Bread

Crusty No-Knead Bread

Crusty No-Knead Bread is one of the twenty recipes in my companion cookbook to Love Inherited. Look for the cookbook in October.

View the first of the previewed recipes, Scottish Shortbread.


CRUSTY NO-KNEAD BREAD

Baked in a Dutch oven at high heat, this bread is as easy as it is scrumptious. Mix up the dough the evening before and forget about it until the next afternoon, and you’ve got fresh bread for dinner.

In Love Inherited, China stops by Granny Nan’s for a bite of lunch. The bread she slices up to go with their cheese and pickle is browned to perfection, with a crackly crust and a moist crumb.

INGREDIENTS

3 cups (375g) unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

1 1/4 teaspoons (7g) salt

1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons (384ml) water

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl combine flour, yeast, and salt.

Add water and stir until blended. Dough will be very sticky.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rest 12-18 hours at room temperature. Dough is ready when bubbly all over the surface.

Line a clean bowl or proofing basket with parchment paper (a bowl roughly the size of your Dutch oven). Trim paper. You will be lifting the dough out of this bowl in the paper, so leave enough to grab the paper and plop the dough into a VERY hot Dutch oven.

Lightly flour work surface and turn dough onto it. Sprinkle dough and your fingers with flour and gently stretch and fold dough over on itself in thirds. Do this stretch and fold two or three times in opposite directions. Dough is very sticky and is supposed to be.

Flour your hands and shape dough into a ball by gently pulling toward you. Place dough into paper-lined bowl seam side down. Cover with a cotton tea towel and let rise about 2 hours. Dough should double in volume and not spring back much when poked with a finger.

Place 3- or 5-quart enamel or cast iron covered Dutch oven in oven while oven preheats. (I’ve used both sizes for this recipe. The loaf comes out a little flatter in the larger pot.) At least a half-hour before dough is ready, preheat oven to 500˚F (260˚C, Gas Mark 10). Then turn temperature down to 450˚F (230˚C, Gas Mark 8). When dough is ready, lift out with the paper and set on counter, dust with flour if desired, and slash top of dough with sharp, preferably serrated, knife or bread lame. This allows the loaf to bloom quickly in the high heat.

Remove pot from oven and carefully lift dough and plop into the pot, parchment paper and all. Shake the pot gently if the dough needs settling, but it will straighten out as it bakes.

Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake another 20 minutes until loaf is browned to perfection (try not to open the oven). Cool on a rack.

NOTES: Add whatever you like: seeds, herbs, cracked pepper.

I whisk dry ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer, then mix in water using the dough hook. I transfer the dough to a large crockery bowl, just because I like homemade bread rising in an earthy bowl.

I use the parchment paper method for the second rising because I just can’t handle the sticky dough.

When transferring the dough to the Dutch oven, don’t have too much paper hanging over the top, and don’t stuff too much paper over the dough in the pot, but do get the lid on tight. Using paper in the baking, you might get some wonky dents in the bread, but that’s okay.

Baking with high heat can be a little tricky. When I first made this recipe, the bread burned on the bottom. Use a baking stone. Or, fold several layers of aluminum foil into a square and place under the pot.

There’s no fat in this recipe, so the loaf dries out in a couple days, but that’s usually not a problem since it’s eaten up by then.

If you use a cooking thermometer to test for done, the bread’s internal temp should be 180-200˚F (82-93˚C).

Adapted from recipe by Jim Lahey.


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