Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I really didn't think the no-knead bread would work, despite the evangelicals (including Bittman, the Minimalist himself). But it did, even in my cold house. I watched the video that I posted yesterday about fifty times, and read this recipe (Free NYT membership may be required--if you don't have it just google New York Times No-Knead Bread Recipe and look around) just as often. I settled on 3 cups unbleached bread flour, 1/4 tsp Dr. Oetker instant yeast (I have no idea why I had this, but after purchasing Fleischmann's rapid rise yeast, which I think is the same as instant, I found a few packets of the Oetker, so I used that.), between 1 1/2 and 1 5/8 cups of water, and 1 1/4 tsp salt. I let it rise in a bowl covered with plastic wrap for 21 hours (Like I said, it was cold.), folded and let it rest for about 15 min covered with plastic, then made a ball, laid it on a well cornmealed kitchen towel, sprinkled generously with more cornmeal, and covered with another kitchen towel and let it rise another hour and a half.

I preheated a six quart enameled cast iron pot and cover in a 500 degree oven towards the end of the dough's second rise. I'm normally not a fan of celebrity chef cookware, but the Batali pot seemed like a bargain compared to the better known brand, the lid has the nifty bumps that allow for pleasant self-basting (like this one), and there's no plastic knob. This may be a good option too, but again the plastic knob. Still, I question whether it will hold up to numerous high temp dry heatings. If you do some reading on this type of bread making you'll see that the luxury brand takes a beating too. I think an uncoated cast iron dutch oven might be best for this application.

Anyway, I cooked the dough covered for 30 min, then uncovered for just shy of 15. I couldn't be happier with the result:

Even the Philistine neighbor/landlord/coworker/friend enjoyed it, for what it's worth. Next I'll try it with olives, dried fruits, oats instead of cornmeal, all respectively, not together, of course. There's lots about this bread on the internet, and it's well deserved.

[Here's the post that began my obsession. It's a serious food blog.]

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