Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I heart Carbs.

I love bread. And Pasta. And Cake. And Potatoes. And all kinds of other carbolicious foods.

I've been on a quest to learn how to reproduce (to the best of my ability with the lack of fully appropriate tools) various rustic hearth breads. I had acquired the book No Need to Knead: Handmade Italian Breads in 90 Minutes in my quest for such delicious bread, but have not had much time to experiment with the recipes inside.

Anyhow, a while back, I saw a recipe posted for a No Knead bread that is an adaptation from a recipe from the Sullivan Street Bakery.

This weekend, I had some time on my hand and decided to give it a try...

Recipe: No-Knead Bread
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
Time: About 1 1/2 hours plus 14 to 20 hours' rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

The Results?

Well, the bread came out and made a most satisfying crackling noise as it was cooling - the crust is wonderfully chewy and very tasty. The middle bit, while tasty, still didn't develop the large holes I was looking for - though it did on one side.

The only think I can think is I may have played a bit too much trying to get the rather slack dough into an approximate ball shape. I suspect the dough was a bit too wet as even with a heavy dusting on the towel that it sat upon for the 2nd rise, it was stuck quite firmly when came time to transfer the dough to the pot for baking.

I'll definitely be trying this method again :)