King Arthur Flour — an awesome company that makes excellent products — has the single best explanation of no knead bread I’ve found. Seriously. Go read that. Make it. Then get the book I mentioned below to expand beyond the basic loaf.
Not long ago, I took on bread making and have had great success.
However, I don’t make bread that often because, by the time I decide I want some with dinner, it is typically too late to actually make it in time!
A friend had raved about a bread recipe that involved no kneading and keeping the dough in the fridge for use anytime, claiming the result was fantastic bread with less than 2 hours from fridge to table.
In particular, he recommended the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. With access to Crackazon Prime on my iPhone, I ordered the book.
And damned if it doesn’t work. At left is the first loaf I made using this technique. In the toaster oven, even.
The base recipe basically involves mixing — but not kneading or working — a dough from a base ratio of water, flour, salt, and yeast. This then goes into the refrigerator (I’m using a six quart Cambro food container
) for at least a day, and will keep for up to 2 weeks. As it ages, it will apparently take on more of a sour dough flavor.
When you want bread, you dust the top with flour, rip off a hunk of dough, let it rise on your pizza peel for ~40 minutes, and then bake it at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.
End result? A delicious bread with a crunchy crust, excellent texture, and great flavor.
The introduction to the book is a bit smarmy, what with the claim of a “revolution in baking, blah, blah, blah”, but the rest of the book is awesome. The first couple of chapters discuss ingredients and tools quite clearly while the next chapter lays out the base recipe.
From there, the rest of the chapters are full of all kinds of other bread and bread-like recipes.
Annoyingly, the recipes are all in “cups” and “tablespoons”, not weights or ratios.
So, if you do get the book, the base recipe is 708 grams water, 12 grams yeast, 25 grams salt, and 812 grams flour. Yes — it is supposed to be considerably wetter than a “normal” bread dough.
Some random notes as I gain experience.
The flavor really does change over time. By the end of a week in the refrigerator, the dough had taken on a distinct sour dough flavor and essence, including generating those signature big air pockets.
The dough does really well baked on a stone. I haven’t gotten down baking in a dutch oven yet; I think the dough is too wet to really do well, or even need, such a baking style.
I’m also going to try baking on a cast iron fry pan turned upside down. I bet the heavy heat mass of the iron will act similar to a stone.
The dough makes awesome pizza. I’ve now made several pizzas on the non-stick pizza pan that came with my toaster oven.
The trick with pizza seems to be to pull off a hunk and roll it out on a heavily floured surface, adding flour to any wet spots as you roll it. Put it immediately on the pan, drizzle with just a touch of olive oil, put whatever toppings on that you want, and back for ~15 minutes in a 450 degree oven.
Bread in the toaster oven has been good, but you need to bake for ~40% longer than the recipe says.