Baking bread – the easy way

There is nothing better than fresh bread.

I like crusty European style bread and to make this stuff can be a challenge.

I first tried a bread maker. Easy? yes. Crusty European bread? No, not even close!

Next, my wife tried various “old world” recipes. Oh, that was so good! …but it was so time consuming she stopped baking me bread. Disaster!

Luckily, one of my good neighbor introduced me to “no knead bread” making, as described in Jim Lahey’s book “My Bread: The Revolutionary No-work, No-Knead Method” . It’s so easy, and the results are simply amazing. A miracle!

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What you’ll need (for 1 loaf)
3 cups of flour
1 1/4th teaspoon of salt
1/4th teaspoon of yeast
1 1/3 to 1 1/4th cup of water
A plastic container, roughly 5-6 quart size
Proofing basket (optional)
A dutch oven

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What you’ll need to prepare the bread. Far right is the dough after all ingredients have been mixed together.

I have 2 dutch ovens – one is the “Lodge 5 quart pre-seasoned dutch oven” (roughly $30 on Amazon). The other is from Le Creuset, which runs about $100. They both work equally well and thus I’d recommend purchasing the cheaper (Lodge) pot.
lodge preseasoned dutch oven 5 quart

Recipe:
1. Mix the flour, salt, and yeast together in the plastic container, then add the water. You have added enough water once there is no more dry flour, and the dough is sticky in consistency.

2. Cover the container, and let the dough rise for 18-24 hours at room temperature (about 68-73F)

3. Take the dough out and place it on a cutting board or other clean surface. Use dry flour to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands and the surface you are using.

4. Next, take the “corners” and fold the dough over itself (like you are folding a napkin in 4).

5. Turn the dough upside down (folds on the bottom), cover it with a clean towel and let it rise another hour or two. You can do this in a proofing basket if you’d like, or just keep it on the surface you used to fold it. (again remember to use flour to prevent it from sticking). The advantage of the proofing baskets is that it keeps the shape of the dough in a ball as it rises, but it’s not a necessary item.

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The dough, after it’s been folded and turned upside down

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The dough, after a 2 hour rest period.

5. Place the dutch oven, with the lids on, in the oven, and pre-heat at 475-500F for 15 minutes.

6. Place the dough in the pot
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Ready for baking!

7. pPut the lid back on, and cook for 30 minutes at 475F

8. Remove the lid, cook another 12-15 minutes

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8. Remove the bread from the pot, let it cool 15 minutes, and enjoy!

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With this recipe I now have fresh bread every Sunday evening — I mix the dough Saturday morning and have fresh bread by dinner time on Sunday. It’s now a ritual the kids beg for. We enjoy the bread with good cheese, salami, or dipped into olive oil. I’ve also used this recipe to make pizza (works great). Once you have mastered the recipe, you can start to experiment a little bit. For example, add rosemary to the mix, use whole wheat flour, or make sourdough (with rye flour).

 

Recently, what I’ve liked doing is add a heaping teaspoon of Red Mill’s Sunflower seeds, steel cut oats, and 10 grain mix.  This makes for a little bit heartier and healthier bread.   Note that when you do this, you’ll need to add a little bit more water (just over 1 1/2 cup) and yeast (I do a generously heaping 1/4 teaspoon).

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Which way do you like to make your no-knead bread?

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One thought on “Baking bread – the easy way

  1. Pingback: Making French baguette using the “No-knead Recipe” | goodgrubs's Blog

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