The Holiday Table – No Knead Bread


A loaf worthy of Buddy's praiseI saw this picture on my college friend’s Facebook page and immediately asked him to share the recipe. This is from Buddy Enright of Southern California.

I’m so happy to share the No Knead Bread recipe!  Kudos and acknowledgement goes to the current revivalists Jim Lahey (Sullivan Street Bakery in NYC), the team at America’s Test Kitchen and Mark Bittman of the New York Times.

What I love about this recipe is that I have NEVER been a baker. I knew it was about chemistry and frankly had no interest or patience for the craft; preferring instead to boil, saute, roast, braise, griddle and grill to my belly’s content.

My best friend, Paul Hibler, owns a hand-crafted pizza restaurant in Los Angeles,  Pit Fire Pizza Company.  I love the crust they’ve developed literally over 10 years.  My more than passing interest in food, cooking and eating led me to notice Paul was making No Knead Bread in his kitchen at home, leading me to ask “what is that?”

This is so simple, easy to make, practically no mess and best of all, honors the 5,000 year tradition of water, flour, salt and yeast though in different proportions than the classic recipes most artisan bakers use. I’ve spent the last couple weeks learning to make this, getting comfortable with the wet, sticky and shaggy dough. It’s a different way but produces great bread so easily.

What you’ll need: Unbleached All Purpose flour. Make sure it’s fresh. I like King Arthur (I’d love to try War Eagle Mills!)

Saran Wrap

7 quart Dutch oven (La Creuset or Lodge). *If using La Creuset be SURE to remove plastic knob and fill  the hole with screw/nut or easier, a wad of aluminum foil***

Here’s the rest: Yields one 1 1/2 pound loaf

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 1/2 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be wet, shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, even up to 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees. *** Note if the dough is too dry add a bit more water, too wet (like plaster) mix in a little more flour.

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, left to right, top to bottom. 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.  If you can, roll the ball to form a “tight” skin, gathering the sides at the bottom. Be sure to pinch together the creases and folds on the bottom. Generously coat parchment paper (recommended) or a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on paper/towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with oil or 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 500 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven, reduce heat to 450 degrees. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, (TRY NOT TO PLOP IT IN TOO HEAVILY AS THIS WILL DE-GAS THE LOAF). 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. I like to slice the top with a sharp razor blade to make sure the crust doesn’t tear severely and help the “spring.”

Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes. Then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes (depending on how the loaf is cooking you may want to reduce the heat to 400 degrees at this point), until loaf is beautifully browned. Loaf is done when interior temperature is about 210 degrees F and/or produces a hollow “thump.” 

Cool on a rack. Try to wait at least 45 minutes before cutting the loaf!  Listen to it “sing” as it cools, crackles and vents the internal heat and steam.  

The loaf will keep by wrapping it in a linen towel or in a paper bag.  Don’t put the bread in plastic as the crust will be get soft and all your effort will be for naught.

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