For anyone recently addicted to food blogs like myself, this has been an eventful week. See, the New York Times published a bread recipe last Wednesday that had everyone quite excited… including me.
It´s a no-knead bread recipe invented by Jim Lahey from the Sullivan Street Bakery in NY which involves tiny amounts of instant yeast and huge amounts of rising time. And of course, it doesn´t require any kneading.
At first, I was quite afraid of trying it out because even turning on the oven is quite a feat in Buenos Aires these days. Summer temperatures are here in all their “glory”, so the natural thing to do is to stay away from anything that could increase the heat even more.
Yet, after seeing gourgeous pictures of said bread from several bloggers and hearing endless praise for this seemingly miraculous piece of culinary art, I decided to disregard my already-defeated common sense and go ahead with this whole thing.
Having tried my hand at bread and pizza dough before, I´m not afraid of kneading. In fact, I like to knead… and recommend it to anyone having a bad day, you say therapists, I say bread making!
Thus, the preparation itself wasn´t scary at all. It did require more waiting than usual, but I got this amazing loaf out of it.
Now, when it actually came down to slicing the bread, it was drier than what I anticipated. It was still gorgeous and full of air, but a bit dry for my liking. Granted it doesn´t contain any fat, but I think the real culprit could be the fact that I had to use a Pyrex (the article mentioned it as one of the possibilities), instead of a heavy iron pot, because even though I do have one, it´s for stove-top cooking since the handles are made of a plastic material. My theory is that the closure isn´t as tight, so some humidity might have been lost there.
I still recommend this bread. In fact, I´m gonna give it another shot soon with some minor modifications and see how it goes. If any of you have made it and want to share your experience, give me some tips or whatever (that is, assuming someone actually reads this thing), please do so in the commentaries section or writing to my email address.
As I had promised, here are some other pics.
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 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.