Wednesday, 18 November 2015

No need bread!

"What do you mean, no need bread? Of course we need bread!" was our response to this. It soon became apparent that it wasn't no need, but was in fact no-knead, bread!

A friend over on Facebook was explaining that her hubbie had become smitten with bread-making after finding the no-knead bread method, so we decided we had to check this out for ourselves. Armed with the link we watched the video tutorial on TimesVideo and then wrote out the basic recipe and headed for the kitchen... the recipe comes from Jim Lahey at the Sullivan Street Bakery in Manhattan (USA) and uses just flour, water, yeast and salt... and no kneading!

Here is the basic recipe we used:

3 cups plain flour (not strong or bread flour, just normal plain flour)
¼ teaspoon of dried yeast (ours is The Pantry own brand from ALDI)
1¼ teaspoons salt
1½ cups tepid water

Put the flour, yeast and salt in large bowl, mix together. Make a well in the centre of the dry mix, pour in the water, mix the dry stuff into the water until it makes a dough. In the video Jim used his hands for this, but we found it was a claggy sticky process, so experimented a bit and found a flat bladed dinner knife worked best as a mixing tool.  It only took a minute or two to mix, so not too onerous.

Once the dough was well mixed, we put the bowl into a warm spot - we set ours on a chair next to the radiator - with a towel wrapped round the bowl, and a clean tea towel over the top, then to keep in the heat we spread 3 or 4 more thick hand towels over the top of the bowl so the top and sides were well-covered.

We left the covered bowl in its warm spot for around 14 hours, then cautiously lifted the covers and peered inside. The dough was beautifully bigger! At least twice the size, heading for three times the size of the original dough.

Next we pre-heated the baking tin. We used a very heavy 10" diameter Le Creuset casserole pan with lid, a gentle wipe round the inside of the pan with a bit of olive oil on some kitchen roll just to prevent sticking, then we popped the pan (without its lid) into the oven and let it heat up. The oven was on maximum - the video says 500F degrees, but ours only goes to Gas Mark 8 which is around 450F degrees but what the heck! We left the pan to heat up for around 15 minutes.

Meanwhile the dough was lifted from the bowl and put onto a floured board and made into a ball shape, then flattened a bit, folded over, dusted with flour, turned upside down and dusted again with flour, then dropped into the pre-heated oven pan, and the lid popped on.

Back into the oven it went, still on full, for around 55 minutes. In fact we should have lifted the lid after about 30 minutes and finished it off open topped, but we forgot to do that! It obviously didn't do any harm, as when we lifted the pan from the oven and removed its lid, the bread looked amazing!

After letting it cool enough so the heat didn't fog the camera lens, we took photos, and then sampled it. What wonderful bread! It would be fab with home-made soup, but very enjoyable as I had it, just smeared with butter.

Our next attempt will involve a double quantity, a much larger baking pan, and possibly sun-dried tomatoes and olives... watch this space!

 Edited to add for clarity: Gas Mark 8 equates to 450 degrees Fahrenheit or 230 degrees Celsius

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