Archive | January 2013

Really Easy No-Knead Bread

Sliced bread on board

You’ll need a good knife for this crusty bread.

Most of my experiments with homemade bread recently had been dumping a long list of ingredients into a bread machine that produced bread that was only okay and was shaped poorly, unless I had wanted to build a structure instead of a sandwich. But then I remembered hearing about another way to make bread with a dutch oven.

We have a dutch oven that has been taking up space on the kitchen floor. I googled and found a whole blog as well as a column from the New York Times. I lifted the lid on the dutch oven and found–a lump of beeswax and several dead bees. Clearly the dutch oven had been pressed into service as part of DH’s beekeeping project. I got rid of the bees and wax, scrubbed, dried and re-seasoned the dutch oven.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cups water
Mix, let rise overnight. Cook covered in a dutch oven 
pre-heated to 450F for 30 minutes, remove cover and cook 
for an additional 15 minutes.
Risen bread in mixing bowl

Dough is still sticky and wet-looking after rising overnight.

Could a recipe this simple really make good food? Let’s see. The dough needs to proof 12-18 hours, so I resigned myself to not having homemade bread until tomorrow and forged ahead. Because the recipes warned that the dough was sticky, I decided to use the dough hook on the stand mixer. Whisk the dry ingredients. Gradually add water while mixing. Place plastic wrap over the top of the mixer bowl with a rubber band to secure and the dough is ready to sit over night. The next morning, it’s time to bake.

Dough on board

I used about 1/3 cup of flour to keep the dough from sticking as I shaped it. Use flour on your hands too.

Shaped dough on floured board

Dough is holding a rough ball shape and ready to move to the pre-heated dutch oven.

At this point, I had to do a little more thinking. Because our dutch oven was large, heavy, and equipped with legs, I tested to be sure it fit in the oven with the rack in the lowest position. This exercise nearly pulled the heating element out.

Dutch oven pre-heating

This big dutch oven, with its spiky legs, required some re-arrangement of the oven.

I moved the rack up and also made sure that the oven door would support the lid while I put the dough in, since there was no way I was going to carry the dutch oven to the dough and back once it got to 450 degrees.

Using the plastic wrap to carry the dough (which is still loose) was very helpful.

Transporting dough

Simply So Good’s recipe suggests re-using the plastic wrap from the rise to transport the dough.

Drop/slide the dough into the waiting dutch oven.

Lid off crock pot

Make sure you know where you’re going to put the lid before you pick it up. It’s heavy and hot.

Dough in dutch oven

If the dough doesn’t quite land in the middle of the dutch oven, it really doesn’t matter.

I used a wooden spoon to move the dough into the center of the dutch oven, but I think that only made a low spot in the resulting loaf. Next time, I’ll leave it where it lands.

After 30 minutes covered at 450F, it was time to take the lid off,

Dough after 30 minutes cooking

Cook 30 minutes covered at 450 and then remove the lid and cook for another 15 minutes.

giving me the first look at the bread.

Let the bread cool completely on a wire rack. Mine was cool in about an hour. Slice with a serrated bread knife and enjoy.