This is the “You can do that?!?” edition of This Space.
Shorts in the winter? Sure.
Power nap at work? Sometimes it’s more necessary than eating lunch.
Stave off a cold as soon as your throat feels scratchy? I’m a believer.
Record a whole album about Some Dude and win a buttload of Grammys? Well played, Adele.
Make bread without kneading? This straight-up blew my mind.
And not just ANY bread. I’m talking about perfect bread, the kind you daydream about. Chewy bread with big irregular holes and a beautifully golden brown crust. I’ve tried to do this before. I would mix and knead and wait and FINALLY bake, all the while visions of this kind of texture heaven with a beautiful brown crust danced in my head. It was disappointing every time. I mean, it tasted good, because, CARBS! But the chewiness, and the texture never came. And the crust? Pale and nothing special, every single time.
Well, this is how I won, and you can too.
Did I mention how little effort this took? Not much, not much at all. I’ve put more effort into much stupider things.
Seriously, try this. Pull it out of the oven, grab some cold salted butter or good olive oil, and have. At. It. Share if you want, and if you make soup with it… Now you’re really showing off.
Two things make this successful, the recipe being one of them. The second is your baking vessel of choice–I recently bought a baking stone, which sucks moisture out of dough to make crispy, beautiful things happen. The recipe calls for a ceramic Dutch oven or Pyrex, preheated in the oven to within an inch of its life. The dough is covered for the first 30 minutes of baking–I used a stainless steel mixing bowl, which ended up not being big enough and getting stuck a bit. Next time, I’ll just plop it onto the stone and leave it uncovered–as you can see, my crust was more golden than brown, and a little more caramelized gorgeous color wouldn’t hurt.
Yup, I gave my bread a tanorexia complex and then ate it. Cruel.
This is all it takes. I can’t take a photograph of time, but if I could, it would be a tiny little sprinkle in a tiny little white bowl.
Of course, I’m only talking about YOUR time, your precious, active time. Good bread needs to rest and rise, for quite a while. But this is time you’d be spending watching cute puppy videos on YouTube and overhauling your sock drawer… I know you have at least a few socks without a counterpart. It’s okay. I always have a TON of ’em, and it’s rough to remind myself that I will never see the pair again. Or be in a horrific accident that leaves me with one foot, but even then, I think I’d wear a sock on my prosthetic, too. So really, the singles must go.
…Aren’t you glad you did that? And look–only 18 hours or so later, you have wet, shaggy, holey dough. This is what you want. You couldn’t knead this even if you wanted to.
After incorporating just enough flour into the dough to let you handle it, shape it into a shape of sorts and let it rise for just a couple more hours, then plop it into/onto a preheated baking vessel. That’s it!
Whoooaaa. I can’t believe that just happened, but here it is. The Lazy But Patient everywhere rejoice!
New York Times No-Knead Bread
(recipe from New York Times)
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal, wheat bran or additional flour for dusting loaf
Whisk together flour, salt and yeast in a large mixing bowl and add 1 5/8 cups lukewarm water (no warmer than 110 degrees). Stir just until blended and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm place for about 12 (and up to 20 or so) hours. This is a good time to go sort your socks…
The dough is ready for the next step when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Flour a work surface and gently dump dough onto it. Using additional flour to keep dough from sticking, fold the dough over itself a few times, then cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 15 minutes.
Then, gently and quickly form the dough into something resembling a ball, using additional flour to keep it from sticking. Place the ball of dough, seam side down, onto a kitchen towel dusted generously with additional flour, cornmeal or wheat bran. Cover with another towel and allow it to rise in a warm place for two hours, or until dough is more than doubled in size.
Heat oven to 450 degrees at least a half hour or so before the dough is ready and place a heavy pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) or baking stone in the oven to preheat. When dough is ready, gently slide your palm under the bottom towel and plop the dough into or onto the pot or baking stone, seam side up. If using a covered pot, bake for 30 minutes covered and another 15-30 uncovered. If using stone, simply bake it for 45-60 minutes, until browned. Bread is done when the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.