Our young and charming friend, Lauryn, likes to cook. And she’s good at it. She texted me a picture of an orb of bread she made. It looked fabulous, so naturally I asked for the recipe. Bless her heart for sharing it with me! One of the many things I love about Lauryn, is that she’s not afraid to try new recipes, new flavors, new things. She puts forth some really lovely meals…she texts me pictures now and again…food porn is always welcome! Would that there was taste-o-gram, but alas, we’re not there yet. I’ve read about no-knead bread and I must say I’ve been skeptical. How could it work (those folks over at Serious Eats explain it nicely)? Kneading is essential to gluten development…or so we’ve been told. And, I like to knead bread. But, when I saw that loaf, I thought if she trusted it and tried it, then I should too. So, so glad she gave me the recipe.
You’ll want to use instant dry yeast, as opposed to active dry yeast…you find out anything you want to know about yeast here…probably more than you want to know!
Now, having said that, I’ve had some issues with it. Her bread was a lovely orb. My first attempt, not so much. It was flatter and I had to add quite a bit of extra flour and did some kneading. So, I did some thinking and decided that perhaps it’s the flour (there’s a decent explanation of flours here). I live in the Southern US. She lives in Canada…all-purpose flours in these two regions differ wildly. All-purpose flour in Canada, at least in Ontario, has a higher hard wheat content, thus more gluten, than regular all-purpose flour anywhere in the US. But, the difference is particularly stark in the Southern states…Biscuits are king here. And soft wheat flour, with its lower gluten content, makes fabulous biscuits (remind me to make some and I’ll post a recipe for Fabulous Biscuits), but not great yeast bread. So, I tried a combination of all-purpose and bread flour…the result was good, but not where it should be. Note how flat the bottom is and as I said, I kneaded in extra flour. The flavor was good, though. Next, I tried using my sour dough discard. Again, good, but much too dense and too flat. Then, I thought about King Arthur…not the round table guy, King Arthur Flour, in Vermont. Their all-purpose flour has a higher protein content, and thus, more akin to the flour in Ontario. Two of these proteins, glutenin and gliadin, make up gluten, which is essential to good yeast bread. Their flour worked the best.
And it’s baked in a preheated Dutch oven. This is monumentally important…the preheating part. My enamel-coated cast iron Dutch oven is still packed away in Connecticut, but I had purchased some terracotta clay pots and a saucer earlier this year, just for the purpose of bread baking. I seasoned them and that’s what I used to make this loaf. I borrowed a handle off of a lid for another pot, attached it to the flower pot, which is turned upside-down and fits in a clay saucer…and voilà!…we have a bread cloche. It works like a charm!
To get to it…I get out my large “bread” bowl, dump in the flour, sugar, salt, dry yeast, the bit of ground ginger and give it a good stir. The lighting makes the flour have a blueish tint, which it doesn’t actually have. Anyway, you want the yeast to be coated with the flour. You will also note the glass of red wine that I’m finishing after dinner…I put this together at around 10 p.m. It only takes few minutes….Pour in the water. I used a stiff spatula to combine everything, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Push the dough into a mass. Stretch plastic wrap over the top and set the bowl aside, on the counter, to do its magic. You leave it there for 12-18 hours, and you leave it alone! It wants to be alone! I’ve found 12 hours works best for me. When you’re ready to bake, place the Dutch oven, with its lid on, in the oven; turn the oven to 475°F. This needs to heat for at least 30 minutes.
After 12 hours, the dough will have at least doubled in size and be all puffy. Deflate the dough; scrape the dough out onto a well-floured surface; sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of flour over the dough, as well. Pull the dough from the edges into the center, forming a ball. This is a soft dough and it will be slightly sticky. If necessary, use the spatula to do the folding, just finishing at the very end with you well-floured hands. Plop it onto a square of parchment…this will help you move it to the Dutch oven or cloche. Make a small cross, about 1-to1 1/2-inches long in the center of the dough; set aside for about 15 minutes. Mist (not spray) with water and dust the dough with flour. Remove the Dutch oven from the oven, being very careful because it’s screaming hot! Remove the top (use a holder, please!!), quickly, but gently pick up the dough ball using the parchment as handles and transfer it to the Dutch oven. Place the cover on and return to the oven. Lower the heat to 450°F and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and continue to bake for an additional 15 minutes to brown the loaf and dry the crust. Remove from the oven and place the bread (not the Dutch oven) on a cooling rack. Cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting…this is the most difficult part, because you really want to slather butter on that hot, fabulous smelling bread. But, wait…it’s worth it. Look at that fabulous crumb! And that’s how you make the basic loaf of Lauryn’s Fabulous No-Knead Bread!
I also made a version with shredded Parm and black pepper added to the flour mixture. Add the water and continue with the recipe. If I thought the plain loaf smelled delicious, this will make you melt! Enjoy!
A note about the ginger—Very small amounts of ginger, we’re talking a pinch, added to the dough can shorten rise time approximately 50 percent. It also improves the quality of the rise, giving smaller, more evenly-sized bubbles. Ginger acts as a buffering agent. Buffering agents control the pH of the dough, allowing the yeast to continue to grow exponentially. REMEMBER-less is more. Adding additional ginger will have exactly the opposite effect, so stick with the pinch, please. By the way, you won’t be able to taste it at all.
The changes I made to the original recipe were a slight reduction in liquid, the addition of a small amount of sugar, and a wee amount of ginger. And of course, using specifically King Arthur All-Purpose Flour™. And you will also note I preheat the oven, at a higher temperature. After removing the cloche, placing the bread in it and returning it to the oven, I lower the oven temperature…but after the transfer. I do this, because the oven temp will lower when you are transferring the bread and then will not be quite as hot as is best. Does that make sense?
Lauryn's Fabulous No-Knead Bread
- Basic White Bread:
- 3 1/4 cups King Arthur™ all-purpose flour (see NOTE)
- 2 teaspoons Diamond® kosher salt (use less if you use Morton’s®)
- 1/2 teaspoon instant dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- Pinch of ground ginger (DO NOT USE MORE)
- 1 1/3 cups warm tap (or potato) water
- For Parmesan-Black Pepper Bread:
- 1 cup finely shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 2-3 very coarsely ground (almost cracked) black pepper
Start by whisking the flour, salt, and yeast together in a large-ish bowl. Gradually add the water to the dry mixture, and stir using a spatula or wooden spoon. Mix the dough gently and form/push it into a ball.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, let it sit on the counter at room-temperature for 12-18 hours. The surface will be covered in bubbles and the dough will have doubled in size. For me, I found 11-12 hours worked best in my kitchen.
When the dough is ready, place a Dutch or French oven, or ceramic cloche into your oven and turn it on to 475°F. Let the Dutch oven warm up for about 30 minutes or so.
Transfer the dough to a floured surface; sprinkle flour over the dough. Fold the corners of the dough under to form a smooth orb. Place the dough on a large square of parchment paper; then dust with flour and let it rest for 15 minutes.
Use a sharp knife (or razor blade) to score an X-shape into the top of the dough. (The cuts should be shallow and just a few inches long.) Mist. not spray, the top of the dough lightly with water. Quickly and carefully, remove your preheated Dutch oven from the oven. Place the parchment paper and dough inside. Cover the Dutch oven, return it to the oven and lower the heat to 450°F; bake for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, remove the lid. Continue to bake the loaf for an additional 15 minutes. You want the top to be dark, but not burnt. Remove from the oven and transfer your bread to a cooling rack. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before slicing.
NOTE: Flours differ, depending on where you live. King Arthur® flour has a consistent level of protein, no matter where you are. If you don’t own a Dutch oven, you can use the insert of your crock-pot or a deep enameled stoneware baking dish, but whatever you use, you need to be able to cover it. Preheat the Dutch oven for no less than 30 minutes, and if your oven will reach 500°F, that’s even better. Just reduce the heat once you place the loaf in the oven. You may add dried fruit (about a handful) or chopped herbs, if desired.
The Latin Lover came down from his lair, which is really his at-home office, but lair sounds more interesting, don’t you think? Anyway, his lair is above the kitchen, so the aroma of Lauryn’s Fabulous Bread was wafting up to him. He loves bread. And he love’s cheese sandwiches…”knead” I say more?