Crusty No Knead Bread
BREAD!! It's been wayyyyyyyy toooooooo longgggggg.
Errrrrrrmagad you guys. This bread. This crusty no knead bread. It's giving me liiiiiife right now. It's been giving me life all winter long. If you couldn't already tell from my compulsion to add a lot of extra letters to all of my words here.
I'm not kidding, this no knead bread is amongst my top five favorite baking discoveries from this year (I know this year just started, I mean even from the whole of 2017). And I don't even know what the other four are.
Now, I know I'm a little late to the no knead bread game. If you're already familiar with the amazingness that is no knead bread and have been making no knead bread for years now, my apologies. This bread recipe may not be so exciting for you.
But if you're a newbie like I was until just a few months ago, I'm here to tell you that your life is about to get a lil bit better right about now.
Because firstly, BREAD! (I LOVE BREAD SO MUCH.) And secondly, this bread literally takes four or less (yes, four) minutes to mix together. And thirdly, this is one of the best breads I've ever baked in my life.
See? Your life is about to change.
So here's the science to no knead bread. Wikipedia really couldn't have said it better:
"No-knead bread is a method of bread baking that uses a very long fermentation time instead of kneading to form the gluten strands that give the bread its texture. It is characterized by a low yeast content and a very wet dough."
Basically, in simpler terms, gluten is what gives dough its amazing doughy, chewy texture. And the way to develop the gluten is by kneading the dough. But with no knead breads, instead of kneading the dough to develop the gluten, you just let it rise for a really.long.time. As in 12-16 hours. And the long rising time is what allows the gluten to develop without any kneading.
And here's the second method for the magic: baking the bread in a Dutch Oven. Or any pot with a lid, which is what I used because I don't have a Dutch Oven. The Dutch Oven/pot is what allows the bread to develop that deeply golden, super-crunchy crust all around with that soft, chewy, doughy crumb inside.
Now, before you nix this no knead bread recipe either because baking bread at home is not something you think you're capable of pulling off or because 12-16 hours of rising time is just way too many hours to wait, let me try to convince you of the fallacy of your thinking.
YOU CAN MAKE THIS BREAD. Yes, even you, who if just the sight of yeast in an ingredient list causes you to run for the hills.
Here's why: this bread has four ingredients: flour, yeast, salt, and water. And you don't even have to let the yeast develop. You literally just mix all four ingredients together, cover the bowl, and let science do the rest of the work for the next 12 hours. Because remember: no knead.
And about that long rising time. It seems really long. 12-18 hours is long. But not if you just plan ahead and make this dough the night before you want to bake the bread.
This way, all the rising happens while you sleep. So it's basically like you didn't even have to wait at all, because sleeping time doesn't count.
What I usually do is prepare the dough in the evening (and by "prepare the dough," I mean quickly mix together the four ingredients and move on with my evening) and then bake the dough the next morning. This way, I've got a crusty, hot, steaming fresh loaf of homemade bread right at the start of my day.
This no knead bread is the type of bread you'll just wanna tear right into, ripping hot, chewy, steaming hunks off without bothering with something as silly as a knife.
So crispy and crunchy on the outside, so doughy and soft and chewy on the inside, so easy to make, so, so good it's ridiculous.
Just serve this crusty no knead bread with a slather of butter and the best vegetable soup ever and it isn't even necessary for me to conclude with "have a very nice day" because you will, oh, you will.
Crusty No Knead Bread
Yield: one round loaf/8-10 servings
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour (I prefer bread flour)
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups room temp. or warm water
-Variation: sub 1/4 cup of the water with 1/4 cup of olive oil for a more tasty, slightly heavier loaf
-Optional add-ins to mix in after dough has risen: green onions, roasted garlic, olives, fresh or dried herbs, cheese, nuts, dried fruit etc.
1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, yeast and salt with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Add water and stir until blended. The dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature for 12-18 hours. After rising, dough should be puffy and loose with little bubbles all over it.
2. Preheat oven to 450 F. Place a 6-quart Dutch Oven or heavy pot with lid* inside the oven to heat up for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly flour your work surface and gently place dough onto it. (If including add-ins, now is the time to gently mix them in. Dough may need to rise a bit longer than the 30 minutes if the add-ins are incorporated.) Shape dough into a ball. Set it on a piece of parchment paper and sprinkle some flour over it. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and let rest/rise a bit while oven heats up.
3. Carefully remove pot from oven. Remove plastic wrap from dough. Gently lift the dough by the parchment paper and place it into the pot, the parchment lining the bottom and sides of the pot.
4. Cover pot with lid, place back into oven, and bake bread for 25 minutes. Remove lid and bake bread for another 15 to 25 minutes, until the loaf is a deep golden and crispy all over. Lift bread out by parchment and let cool a bit before serving.
*Note: if you don't have a lid for your pot, tightly cover the pot with heavy duty foil instead.
Recipe Adapted From NYT