My friends are surprised to learn that I don’t often knead the dough when making Our Daily Bread. They think that making a loaf of bread these days, still require laborious hand kneading, or the use of a Bread Machine. The only machines I use are the digital weighing machine and the KitchenAid!
The No Knead Bread method was conceived by Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery, in New York. Together with Mark Bittman of the New York Times, a video of the No Knead Bread method was produced, uploaded on 6th December 2006, and went viral.
The method does not require kneading. It does not use special ingredients, equipment or techniques. Just all purpose flour, salt, yeast and water. And it takes very little effort — only time. Jim says that even a four year old can bake better bread than any bakery including his! You will need 16 to 24 hours to create the bread, but much of this is unattended waiting, a slow fermentation of the dough that results in a perfect loaf. There’s no kneading as the yeast stretches the gluten in the flour for you! A large number of books have now been published on how to bake different breads using this method.
This recipe has been adapted from that shared by Jim Lahey and Mark Bittman, a.k.a. The Minimalist of The New York Times. (The words in italics are my adaptations of the method.)
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting. ( I use 380 gm)
¼ teaspoon instant yeast.
1 ¼ teaspoons salt.
1 ½ cups water. ( I use 1 1/4 cup)
cornmeal or wheat bran. ( I use the same flour)
- In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast and salt. Mix thoroughly.
- Add 1 ½ cups of water, and stir with large spoon or spatula until blended and the dough shaggy and sticky. ( I use 1 1/4 cup).
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap.
- Let dough rest 18 hours.
( I allow 12 to 14 hours resting, or overnight ).
Weighing and mixing takes less than 10 minutes.
- Generously flour pastry mat (or other work surface) and place dough on it.
- Sprinkle dough with more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice.
- Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes. (This relaxes the gluten strands.)
- Generously coat a sheet of parchment paper with cornmeal or wheat bran. ( I use the flour).
- Using enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to work the surface or fingers, gently shape the dough into a ball.
- Put dough seam side down on parchment paper and dust with more cornmeal or wheat bran. Cover with a cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours (dough will be doubled in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger).
- Approximately 20 minutes before dough is ready, put an empty 4-6 quart heavy covered pot. (Dutch oven, enamel, Pyrex, or ceramic pot will do ) into the oven and heat oven to 245˚C degrees.
- When dough is ready, carefully remove the very hot pot from oven. Remove lid.
- Slide your hand under the parchment paper and flip dough over into pot, seam side up (dough will look like a mess). (I prefer to dump the paper and dough all into the pot. With the seam side up, you don’t need to score the dough surface. You may wish to do so, if the seam side is down- see picture.)
- Cover with the hot lid. Replace pot back in the oven.
- Reduce oven temperature to 230˚C and bake covered for 30 minutes.
- Reduce oven temperature further to 200˚C and bake uncovered for another 15 minutes more or until loaf is golden brown. ( For this, I prefer to remove the loaf from the pot and place it directly on the baking stone.)
- Cool on rack when done.
This method of baking cripsy, crusty and chewy bread with lots of holes in the crumb, is very simple and not time consuming. Yet the results are fabulous! The crust for this bread shown was crackling like the rind of a roasted pork belly! with a soft crumb and nice large holes-to lap up that curry dish!
“Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.”
Isaiah 55:2 New International Version.