No Knead Bread is not new. It became famous when Mark Bittman wrote a New York Times article about it a decade ago in 2006. I’m going to talk about the recent comeback of bread’s popularity and the rise of sourdough breads in this post “wheat belly” era for my CBC Alberta at Noon column tomorrow. But, after researching sourdough I know the art of working with this living breathing organism will not be for everyone so that’s why I’m posting two simple No Knead Bread recipes here. Give the dough lots of time to rise and the yeast will have time to begin digesting the sugar and proteins in the flour for you.
No Knead Breads are definitely something anyone can do and most importantly – enjoy!
Almost No-Knead Bread
(adapted from Cooks Illustrated – February 2008 issue)
Note: You can substitute the type of flour in this recipe by replacing 1 cup of the all purpose flour with the flour of your choice. Add 2 Tablespoons of honey in the water if you do change the flour mix. You can also throw in herbs or cheese at the point where you are adding the flour to the yeast and water mixture.
3 cups all purpose flour (I used 2 cups all purpose and 1 cup whole wheat plus the honey mentioned above)
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1½ teaspoons salt
¾ cup plus 2 Tablespoons water
¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons beer
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
Whisk the flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl and then add the water, beer, and vinegar.
Use a wooden spoon or incorporating utensil to fold and mix the dough being sure to scrape up any dry flour from bottom of bowl until a shaggy ball of dough forms.
Note: it was a dry day in Calgary when I made this – I had to add about 1 more teaspoon of beer to collect up all the flour in the bowl. I also start the stirring with a spoon but then switch to my hands to collect all the loose bits of dough together.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 8 – 18 hours.
Lay a sheet of parchment paper on the counter and coat with butter or olive oil spray.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead it 10 – 15 times. Shape the dough into ball by pulling the edges into middle.
Transfer the dough, seam-side down, to the parchment paper and return to the bowl. Spray with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.
Let the dough rise at room temperature until it has doubled in size and does not readily spring back with poked with finger, about 2 hours.
About 30 minutes before baking, adjust an oven rack to lowest position and place a 6 -8 quart heavy bottomed enamel coated cast iron Dutch oven with its lid on the rack, and heat the oven to 500°F.
Sprinkle the top of your dough lightly with flour and using a razor blade or sharp knife; make one 6-inch long, half inch deep slit along the top of dough.
Remove the pot (carefully) from the oven and remove the lid.
Pick up the dough by lifting it on parchment overhang and then lower it into the hot pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge).
Cover the pot and place it in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425°F and bake covered for 30 minutes then assess the need to bake it 10 – 20 minutes longer depending on how golden brown you’d like your crust.
Remove the bread from the pot; transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.
Le Creuset’s No-Knead Bread
Le Creuset is a French company that makes enameled cast iron pots and pans in a variety of beautiful colours. In this recipe they call their pot with a lid a “French Oven” instead of the Dutch Oven moniker that is typically used. In France these pots are actually called cocottes , the French word for cauldron. Le Creuset started making them in 1925 so I guess they can call them whatever they like.
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1½ cups warm water
Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl.
Add the water and stir (or mix with your hands) until blended. The dough will look shaggy and sticky.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rest overnight (or at least 8 hours) at room temperature.
Sprinkle your work surface with flour (after at least 8 hours) and place the dough on it.
Sprinkle the top with a little more flour and fold the dough onto itself a few times.
Place the dough in an enamel coated cast iron 5 quart “French Oven” pot and let it rest for 15 minutes.
Pick the dough up, shape it into a round and then wrap it in a kitchen tea towel that’s been generously coated with flour to rise again for 2 hours. It should more than double in size.
Preheat the oven to 450°F about 30 minutes before you want to bake your bread.
Place your “French Oven” pot in the oven as it is preheating then carefully remove it once the oven is at 450°F.
Slide the dough from the tea towel into the pot, give it a shake to distribute it evenly and then cover with the lid and bake 30 minutes.
Remove the lid and bake for another 20 – 30 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown.
Remove the bread from oven and let it cool in the pot before removing.