'Tis the cool, yet snuggly time of year to be baking and experimenting.
I found an incredible bread recipe that I had torn out of an old newspaper.....months ago? Years ago? I can't remember, but as I looked over the recipe and the pictures, I decided to try it out. Although I really enjoy kneading dough, I was curious what it would be like to make a yeast bread that required no kneading. Would it be less intimidating?
One of the main things that caught my eye with this recipe is that it calls for yeast but does not call for sugar. The only reason, I believe, that sugar was ever added to bread recipes is that it causes bread to rise faster. Anyway, although yeast digests sugars until they are transformed into carbon dioxide and ethanol, and I will eat yeast breads and drink beer, I still can't use sugar in my own baking.
Although this recipe calls for white flour, I tried it with half white flour and half white whole wheat flour. It turned out amazing. Since then, I've made it entirely with white whole wheat. It was dense but still incredibly chewy inside with a perfectly hard crust. I've learned the secret to chewy inside-crusty outside is baking in a cast iron or ceramic pot with the lid on and then with the lid off for the last 15 minutes or so.
Although to make this bread you will have to plan about 24 hours ahead of time, it's worth the time logistics. It sits by itself for the first 18 hours, anyway.
Artisan No-Knead Bread
3 cups all-purpose flour OR one and 1/2 C. all-purpose flour and one and 1/2 C. white whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp. instant yeast (use RapidRise yeast)
2 1/2 tsp. salt (less if you use sea salt)
One and a half cups plus 2 tablespoons tepid water
*cornmeal or wheat bran as needed
In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add the water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and very sticky.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18 hours, at warm room temperature. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles.
Turn dough out on a lightly floured work surface; sprinkle dough with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously dust a cotton (not terry cloth) kitchen towel with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal.
Cover with another kitchen towel and let rise for 2 to 3 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
At least 30 minutes before dough is ready, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put a heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, or ceramic; anywhere from 3 and a half quarts to 6 or 8 quarts) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that's OK. shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is nicely browned. Cool on rack.
Enjoy! Great with many different fixings: butter, hummus, fig jam, as bruschetta, toast, honey etc., or by itself.
(-Courtesy of The Oregonian printing the Sullivan Street Bakery recipe, New York City)