|Crusty No Knead Artisan Bread|
Yesterday morning I decided that maybe I needed to add something to the main dish salad that I was taking to book club last night. It was my turn to bring supper. Homemade bread is always a good addition to...well, anything.
This recipe has been all over the internet for years. It's appeared here more than once. But after a few of the "book ladies" asked some questions last night, I'm posting it again and hope I've answered their questions. I've listed my tips for this recipe and tweaked the recipe itself to make it clearer. I hope.
Let's get the tips out of the way...
- I use King Arthur all-purpose flour because of it's higher protein count. My other "go to" all-purpose flour is White Lily, a soft wheat flour that just doesn't work here. Or in the yummy cinnamon roll recipe we love. Or the dinner rolls I've made several times. If you live somewhere outside of the Deep South, I'm sure there are other brands of "hard wheat" all-purpose flours in your store, but I'm sticking with what I know works.
- Measure the flour by scooping it up and leveling it. I don't use my typical "spoon and level" method here.
- I discovered that the Fleischmann's bread machine yeast in a jar is instant yeast. You need to use instant yeast. The bread machine (no, I don't own a bread machine) yeast in a jar sits right beside the little packets of yeast in your grocery store. There are other brands but make sure you use instant.
- We have wonderful tap water here that comes from a watershed in the mountains of the county just to our north. So I use hot water straight from our tap. If your water tastes like it comes from a chemical plant you probably don't want to use that. Use whatever water you drink and heat it to 118-120º. I just tested the actual temperature of my hot tap water. It's right at 120º. Much hotter than that and you'll kill the yeast.
- I no longer preheat the Dutch oven, like most recipes do, before plopping the bread dough into it. I've done it both ways. Both ways work. But there are no burned fingers using the cold pan method.
- If you don't have a Dutch oven, any large 4-6 qt. pot with a lid works as long as it can go into a very hot oven.
- Once you've mixed the ingredients—I stir together the dry ingredients with a whisk, then use a heavy spoon to mix in the water—cover your mixing bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise. The "cover with a damp towel" doesn't work here.
- My perfect rising spot is on top of my cold toaster oven right under the under-counter lights. I did not always have under-counter lights, so that's surely not a requirement. Back in the dark ages, I'd set the bowl on top of the warm TV. That's not an option any more. Just avoid the air condition vents. If your spot isn't as warm as mine, the dough might take a little longer to rise which is okay.
- The rising time is a huge range. Yesterday mine rose about 7 hours. It can sit up to 24 hours. I really thought it hadn't risen much but it was time to bake if I was taking it to book club, so I went ahead with the next step and crossed my fingers.
- This truly is a no-knead bread. I scrape the sticky dough out of the bowl with a spatula onto a floured piece of wax paper. Then I flip the blob of dough over and pick it up, dust off the excess flour and round it into a ball, tucking the ends under as I work so that the top is smooth.
- Place the ball of dough onto a piece of parchment paper and use the paper to place it into the Dutch oven. I like the precut baking sheets. Yes, the paper will stick out of the pot when you place the lid on. The paper will get dark as it bakes, but it won't catch on fire. The paper is also useful at the end to lift the bread out of the hot pot.
Don't be afraid. It's only flour, water and yeast. Give it a try.
CRUSTY NO-KNEAD ARTISAN BREAD
3 cups all-purpose flour, (I use King Arthur—scoop & measure)
1/2 teaspoon yeast (I use Fleishmann's BreadMachine Instant yeast from a jar)
1-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon herbs or seasoning, optional (I used Herbs de Provence—no herbs is also good)
1-1/2 cups hot water (I use hot tap water)
Put flour into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast, salt and herbs over flour and stir to blend. Stir in water until it's all moist. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 4-24 hours.
Dump dough (which is very sticky) onto a well-floured counter or mat. Form into a round or oblong loaf. (Whatever fits into your pot.) Tuck the dough under as you shape it, so that the top is smooth.
Place dough onto a piece of parchment paper and use the edges of the paper to set the dough down into a Dutch oven
Bake, covered, at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Carefully remove from hot pan and let cool for 10 minute or so before slicing. (The crust is nearly rock hard straight out of the oven, but it will soften and be easier to slice as it cools.)
Best NEW TIP...to cut a circular load of bread, cut the loaf in half. Place the cut side down on your cutting board and then slice it from one end to the other. I wish I had a photo of the sliced bread to show you. But I had not intended to post this recipe until we talked about it last night and several questions came up.