Posted by: Modern Mom | October 19, 2011

Knead a Break?

I love fresh bread, but I have to admit, I’m not very good at it. Even a bread machine doesn’t help. So, when I saw a recipe for a “No Knead Bread” it had me at “no knead”. The ingredients were minimal and instructions were simple; mix ingredients, let rise, roll into ball, rise again, bake. Seemed easy enough.

Let me tell you, if you need a break from store-bought, or want to impress dinner guests and appear to be a kitchen goddess (and don’t we all want to appear that way?), this is the ticket.

Wyatt helped me mix the ingredients. Then we covered the dough and let it rise to double it’s size – 18 hours. Then I dumped the contents of the bowl onto a well floured surface and gently shaped it into a ball. I then transferred it to a generously floured kitchen towel, folded the towel over it, and let it rise again. (Would this be a perfect Easter bread, or what? har har)

I got my favorite stoneware baker screaming hot in the oven, then transferred my lovely dough ball to the baker, covered it, and let it work its magic. It got a little off kilter going into the baking dish, but hey, it baked up pretty nice. And, it came out looking like a professional baker made it. This was a huge boost to my bread-making ego, so if you haven’t ever tried this, I’d highly recommend it. You’ll feel like (and look like) a kitchen goddess.

Next time I make this I’m going to throw in something for flavor. Maybe some cranberries and pecans, or a little rosemary and roasted garlic. I think it would be a fantastic base recipe for any kind of artisan style dipping bread. I have visions of kalamata olives and herbs for dipping in balsamic. Mmm. All in all it came out good and I’ll be experimenting more with it.

Here’s the basic recipe;

3C flour

1 1/2C water

1 1/4t salt

1/4t instant yeast

In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, yeast. Pour in 1 1/2 cups of water and mix dough together with your hands or a wooden spoon until you have a slightly sticky and shaggy dough (about 30 seconds). The dough may need a bit more water,  so add one tablespoon at a time until it’s slightly sticky.

Cover and let rise for 12- 18 hours, until the dough has more than doubled in size and the surface is studded with bubbles. I’d recommend the full length to achieve the results I did, but I’m sure if you went a few hours shorter- it would be fine.

After the first rise, dump the dough onto a generously floured surface (it may need a little coaxing out of the bowl, just pull gently).  Liberally flour your hands and shape into a ball (as close to one as you can get- it will be fine!).  Next, take a dish towel, lay it flat, and liberally flour the center of the towel.  Transfer the dough to that spot, and gently fold the towel over the dough.  Let rise for an additional 1-2 hours until the dough has doubled in size once again, and holds an impression when gently poked with a finger.  If it springs back, let it rise 15 minutes more.

At least 30 minutes before you’re ready to bake your bread, place a large casserole dish or dutch oven (I like the Pampered Chef Deep Dish Covered Baker) in the middle rack of oven, and set temperature to 450 degrees. You want this dish screamin’ hot.

When your dough is done rising, open the oven, and with pot holders carefully place the pot on your stove. Set aside the lid.  Working quickly but gently, unfold the towel and invert dough into the pot. Place the lid back on and put the dish back in the oven.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Then, remove lid, and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes uncovered, until the crust is a deep golden brown. Once achieved, remove pot from oven, carefully remove bread from pot, and let cool completely before slicing.

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