Lately I can think of little else but homemade bread. When I enter a market I immediately seek out the bakery. If I’m lucky enough, I can even catch a whiff of fresh bread emerging from the oven, a scent so heavenly I’ve been known to swoon.
Recently, my swooning was confined to my home kitchen when I found myself extracting a finished loaf from my very own oven. My first attempt at no-knead bread resulted in a bland, if not beautiful, loaf that promptly found its way to the trash. But practice leads to perfection and while I won’t claim to be an expert (yet), I am very proud of the load you see pictured here.
For days on end it was my breakfast slathered in butter, my lunch doused in olive oil and layered with tomatoes and salt. With great effort, I even froze a few slices to test if the bread would emerge from the toaster oven as chewy and delicious as on day one; it did.
This recipe comes from the Cook’s Illustrated iPhone app and it’s flawless. The recipe attracted me for its flexibility; the first rise could be anywhere from eight to 18 hours, with nary an impact on the final product. Oh, and did I mention this recipe calls for beer? My single most favorite summertime beverage of them all lent an almost sourdough-like taste to the loaf, without requiring a sourdough starter.
You will need a Dutch oven or other ovenproof vessel, such as this one from Lodge.
Gluten-free update: Please visit this post for a similar no-knead gluten-free crusty bread.
What You Need:
15 ounces all-purpose flour, plus more for your work surface
¼ teaspoon rapid-rise yeast
1 ½ teaspoons salt
7 ounces room temperature water
3 ounces beer (like cooking with wine, I went for a brew that I’d actually drink: Stone IPA. You could also use non-alcoholic beer.)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
What You Do:
- Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl, one big enough to allow the dough to rise. Fold in the wet ingredients, using a spatula to mix the dough and scrape up the flour that gets stuck to the bowl. You’ll eventually have a sticky, gooey ball. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave be at least overnight or up to 18 hours (I love that part).
- Plop dough onto a lightly floured workspace and knead 10 to 15 times while forming into a ball. Lightly spray with olive oil or cooking spray and set aside in a clean bowl for a second rise of 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 500° at least half an hour or more before baking. Place a large Dutch oven with lid into the oven during the preheat stage. Once the dough is ready, carefully remove the Dutch oven and plunk the dough inside. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour (which gives it that lovely artisan look you see in the photograph).
- Drop the heat to 425° and bake covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered for another 20 or 30 minutes, or until the loaf begins to brown. You can test for doneness with a thermometer; it will read 210° when done.
- Allow to cool until room temperature before you dig in. Believe me, that’s the hardest part of this entire process.
Adapted from a recipe by Cook’s Illustrated.