Thursday, June 16, 2011

Recipe #1: No-knead bread

I've had half-a-dozen requests for a few of my recipes lately (I do most of the cooking at our house, so I have quite a few), and someone suggested that I post them on my blog. I get a lot of my recipes from other blogs and websites, so this seems a little redundant to me-- but then, I've tried plenty of recipes that were no good or needed a lot of "tweaking" so maybe I'll make a small contribution to the collective wisdom here, or at least serve as a screener.

Here's a great recipe for no-knead bread dough. This is from the book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.

1-½ tablespoons granulated yeast (about 1-1/2 packets)
1-½ tablespoons kosher salt
6-½ cups unbleached flour, plus extra for dusting dough

1. In a large plastic resealable container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm (about 100 degrees) water. Using a large spoon, stir in flour, mixing until mixture is uniformly moist with no dry patches. Do not knead. Dough will be wet and loose enough to conform to shape of plastic container. Cover, but not with an airtight lid.
2. Let dough rise at room temperature, until dough begins to flatten on top or collapse, at least 2 hours and up to 5 hours. (At this point, dough can be refrigerated up to 2 weeks; refrigerated dough is easier to work with than room-temperature dough, so the authors recommend that first-time bakers refrigerate dough overnight or at least 3 hours.)
3. When ready to bake, sprinkle cornmeal on a pizza peel. Place a broiler pan on bottom rack of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and preheat oven to 450 degrees, preheating baking stone for at least 20 minutes.
4. Sprinkle a little flour on dough and on your hands. Pull dough up and, using a serrated knife, cut off a grapefruit-size piece (about 1 pound). Working for 30 to 60 seconds (and adding flour as needed to prevent dough from sticking to hands; most dusting flour will fall off, it's not intended to be incorporated into dough), turn dough in hands, gently stretching surface of dough, rotating ball a quarter-turn as you go, creating a rounded top and a bunched bottom.
5. Place shaped dough on prepared pizza peel and let rest, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it in lidded container. (Even one day's storage improves flavor and texture of bread. Dough can also be frozen in 1-pound portions in airtight containers and defrosted overnight in refrigerator prior to baking day.) Dust dough with flour.
6. Using a serrated knife, slash top of dough in three parallel, 1/4-inch deep cuts (or in a tic-tac-toe pattern). Slide dough onto preheated baking stone. Pour 1 cup hot tap water into broiler pan and quickly close oven door to trap steam. Bake until crust is well-browned and firm to the touch, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven to a wire rack and cool completely.

I double this recipe, and put it all in an 8-quart dough bucket I got from a local restaurant supply store for about $5. With that amount of dough, we can make rolls, pizza dough, and a couple of loaves over the course of a week or more.

Also, I've used this as communion bread with great response; if you don't have a conviction about whether communion bread should be unleavened, your folks will love this.

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