Have you ever noticed that when you learn a new word it starts to pop up everywhere? You see it in newspaper articles and on blogs, you hear it on the news and on the radio. It’s all over the place. You begin to see it so much that you being to wonder how so many other people already knew about this word. Did everyone else just learn it, too? Was it recently sent out in one of those word of the day emails, and people are trying to work it into their vocabulary? You convince yourself that must be the case, because how could you have gone so long without knowing this word when seemingly everyone else in the world already knew it?
Of course now that I want to think of an example I cannot think of a single word. I can think of a something better, though: Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread. I first heard of Jim Lahey a year or two ago, but it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I actually tried one of his no-knead recipes. Since I made his wonderful pizza dough, Jim Lahey’s bread technique is everywhere I turn. I was flipping through the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living last week, and lo and behold there was a full page picture of Jim Lahey surrounded by crusty loaves of no-knead bread. (Sounds a little food porn-ish, doesn’t it?). If things had ended there I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about it, but of course things did not end there. Saturday’s episode of America’s Test Kitchen was about baking bread, and Christopher Kimball & Co. baked a loaf using Jim Lahey’s no-knead method. When will it end? Probably not anytime soon because I’m about to order his book, and I have dough rising for yet another loaf of no-knead bread.
Making no-knead bread is a lot like making the no-knead pizza dough from a couple weeks ago. You mix a few ingredients together in about 5 minutes, let it rise for 12-18 hours, scrape the dough out of the bowl and let it rise for an additional hour or two, and then bake it in a hot oven. The only equipment you need is a big bowl, a spoon, a clean kitchen towel, and a covered pot. How easy is that? The only difference between the pizza dough and the bread is the baking method; for the bread you bake the bread in either a dutch oven or some kind of covered pot instead of on a baking stone. The amount of work involved is minimal, and the results are fantastic.
From Martha Stewart Living, April 2010, adapted from Jim Lahey
2-1/4 cups bread flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1-1/4 tsp salt
1-1/3 cups cool water (55-65 degrees)
Wheat bran, cornmeal, or extra flour for dusting
Combine the flours, salt, and yeast in a large bowl.
Add the water.
Mix with a spoon or your hands until everything comes together. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 12-18 hours.
The dough will transform from a dry lump into a larger, bubbly blob.
Use a rubber spatula to scrape the dough out onto a floured surface.
Fold up the sides of the dough to create a seam.
Liberally flour a clean (duh) kitchen towel with flour, cornmeal, or wheat bran. I used whole wheat flour.
Place the dough seam-side down on the towel, and dust the top with more flour.
Loosely fold up the towel, and let the dough rise for an additional hour or two. It’s ready when an indent by your finger doesn’t spring right back.
Thirty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450 with the covered pot inside. When the 30 minutes is up, carefully remove the pot from the oven, take off the lid, gently place the dough seam-side up into the pot, give it a shake to center the dough, and place the whole thing back in the oven with the lid on.
Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on. Remove the lid and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until the crust is dark brown.
Immediately remove the bread from the pot using a couple of kitchen towels or spatulas. Let cool completely for the easiest slicing, and then eat with anything and everything – butter, cheese, soup, eggs, peanut butter…