Crusty No-Knead Artisan Bread
In the midst of decorating, furiously knitting up gifts for Christmas, doing laundry and getting ready for an overnight guest here at the farm this week, I got the crazy notion to try a new bread recipe this weekend. I have baked bread for years and years. The sourdough bread recipe here on my blog is my standby recipe and we love it. But after eating some artisan bread from the wonderful Atlanta restaurant I visited with Jessica a couple weeks ago, it made me want to try this no-knead business myself.
I had given the book, Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day, to both daughters a few years ago. But I'll be honest, there are about four chapters of info before you ever get to the recipe! To be a simple bread, they had a slightly complicated way of explaining it.
Then last week, I took a peek at Attic24's blog (link is on my sidebar.) She crochets beautiful things and I like to pop in every now and then to see what's new. And I saw that she had baked some amazing bread. Attic24's No-Knead Bread lead me to this post, Simply So Good's Artisan No-Knead Bread. And even Simply So Good's post has a link to an earlier post on her blog for Crusty Bread.
In a departure from my standard method, I'm not going to give you the recipe. Go to "Simply So Good" and read her recipe there. She has so many photos that explain exactly what she did. Attic24 also has great pictures and she has "translated" the directions into British baking terms.
The loaf on the right was made with White Lily.
It's usually my favorite flour, but not for this recipe.
I will tell you a few things I learned as I made three loaves of this bread yesterday. (There are so few ingredients and so little work involved, that, yes, I tried this three times in one day. If nothing else, I am persistent.) Some of my problems with the first two loaves I figured out by reading some of the comments in the blog post. There are over 1,000 comments! So I still have more to read.
But this much I've figured out already:
1. Don't use soft Southern flours like White Lily, Martha White, etc. Those loaves needed a chain saw to cut through the crust. Has to do with the protein content. My one successful loaf was made with bread flour. I have bought some unbleached King Arthur flour to try next.
2. Measure the flour by scooping it up with your measuring cup and leveling with a knife. When I used my usual spoon-the-flour-into-the-cup method, I ended up with a batter that I could have poured. Scooping the flour gives you a good bit more flour than spooning.
3. Use RapidRise yeast, not ActiveDry yeast (unless you follow her adaptation for that kind of yeast.) I just buy the strip of three envelopes at the grocery store. Each envelope should make four loaves of bread with this recipe.
4. Be very careful as you handle an extremely hot pot and lid. By the time I was putting the third loaf into the oven, it was way past my bedtime. Because my very sleepy brain was not working clearly, I nearly grabbed the lid handle without a pot holder! Thankfully my brain woke up at the last split second. Injury avoided.
If you are like me and your first attempt isn't great, don't give up. I figured if hundreds and hundreds of people had been successful with this recipe, I could do it, too. Loaf #3 was worth the effort.