So we were talking about flour on the Facebook page (as you do) and it came up that we make most of our own bread. I posted a photo (partly to substantiate the claim, partly to BOAST) then had to admit that it’s actually my husband who does most of the work. Think of me as a consumer rather than a manufacturer.
Over to the baker…
“My almost no-knead bread is really just an even more simplified version of the Jim Lahey No-Knead Bread that was popularised by The New York Times in 2006. I’ve linked to the recipes and clips below.
However, I think the basic recipe can be improved further because the one drawback with the original recipe is that the very wet dough is tricky to work with and especially to shape. The way to improve that is with a slight trade off. That is, a bit less water and a little bit of kneading.
Here is what I do instead:
3 Cups of strong bread flour of your choice (450g).
¼ teaspoon quick yeast (such as Dove Farm bright orange packet) (1g).
1 ¼ teaspoon salt (8g) Fiddle around with this if you’re avoiding salt, but we think it does need some.
1 mug water (250g) (you may want slightly less or more, it is a bit trial and error. But try this amount first time).
A bit of flour for dusting
An egg and a spot of milk in a cup to create a nice wash with a shiny finish (optional)
Mixing bowl (or two)
Spatula or wooden spoon
Casserole dish or oven proof pot either ceramic or metal is fine. The key issue is that it has a lid and can be preheated in the oven.
A chopping board or preferably a silicon baking tray.
Oven gloves or similar… you seriously do NOT want to burn yourself on the scalding pot/dish.
Add the flour, yeast, salt and water into a large mixing bowl.
Combine by hand or with a spatula or wooden spoon if you have an aversion to getting messy hands.
Recently, I have added in a stage of kneading the dough for five minutes rather than simply combining it all together but it is strictly my preference. Besides if the dough is too wet you probably won’t be able to do that kneading anyway.
At this stage when you have a nicely combined dough (after a couple of minutes) you might want to transfer the dough to a second mixing bowl coated with olive oil. Alternatively, stick with what you have if the messy bowl doesn’t bother you much and your preference is to save on the washing up.
In either case, cover your bowl with the dough with cling film for a minimum of 10 hours and ideally 12 hours at room temperature , say on a work surface in your kitchen.
A few hours into the waiting process, you can remove the cling film and work the dough around a bit in the bowl for five minutes by hand or with the spatula. Fold the edges in towards the centre as you turn the dough around. That should give you something resembling a ball shape. The idea with this stage is that you can work some of the airholes out of the bread so you get a denser bread that is better for sandwiches and spreading (precisely because there are no holes in it). Again though, this is a personal preference for me and you can again miss this stage out.
I also miss out the very messy stage with the dish towel covering the dough for two hours as having tried it I could neither see nor taste a notable difference in my bread.
After the dough has been covered for your around a minimum of four hours (but around 8 hours for best results) you are ready to bake it.
At this stage, turn your oven on to heat up to 250 degrees centigrade and put your cold casserole dish or lidded pot into the oven to heat up.
While this is happening, get your dough out off the bowl and transfer it onto a floured/oiled board or work surface. Actually, if you have a silicone traybake tray, put it on that, the flexible sides are great.
Work the bread around for a few minutes shaping it as you go into the final shape you want for your loaf.
Once the oven and casserole/pot are heated to 250 degrees than take out your pot (with oven gloves!), remove the lid and place your shaped dough into the pot. Sprinkle the top of the loaf with a dusting of flour and/or brush the egg and milk mixture onto the top with a pastry brush. Put the lid back on and place in the oven.
Set your timer to 25 minutes.
After 25 minutes take the lid of the pot and brown the top of your loaf to your preferred hue (I tend to cook it uncovered for three to five minutes).
After that your loaf is done, tip it onto a wire rack to cool.
You can find Jim Lahey’s original recipe here: http://www.sullivanstreetbakery.com/recipes
The very useful video demonstration here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13Ah9ES2yTU
And the original NY Times article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/08mini.html”
Yay! And this is what it looks like in the casserole dish we have. Some people have asked for timings etc, so I can say that he normally makes up the dough before going to bed, then leaves it and bakes it the next morning. If he’s in for the day, he does the middley bit of faffing, if he’s asleep, he doesn’t.