Since Mark Bittman started the "no-knead bread" craze in 2006, I've joined the masses in experimenting with the recipe. As a chronic over-kneader, the no-knead bread was a perfect match. I love how flexible I can be with the rising times--I don't have to worry about ruining the loaf if my schedule gets erratic(as it inevitably does). In fact, I got so used to forgetting about the rising dough, that I let one loaf proof for an extra day (instead of 2-3 hours). The happy accident result was a flat but very flavorful loaf. Since then, I've been toying with how to keep the "bready" flavor without having it taste "beery" and while still retaining its rise.
I've also been making a version of the olive oil dough from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day using my sourdough starter, which suggests that you proof the dough in the fridge for up to a week, the flavor improving the longer it sits. It occurred to me that I could proof my no-knead bread in the fridge as well, which a) improves the flavor and b) suits my habit of negligence.
My take on the no-knead loaf has evolved over the years---I like to make up the 3 cups of flour with about 1/2 a C of rye (which adds a nice flavor), a couple spoons of cornmeal, and the rest bread flour. I also do a little more salt than the NYT article suggests, and a hair more yeast. Sometimes I add a little honey, too. I've baked it in pots and pyrex, but have found that my enamel dutch oven really gives a superior crust. One positive thing about the overly-zealous city planners of Irvine, is that they've put rosemary EVERYWHERE--meaning it's easy to grab a handful of fresh rosemary to spike the loaf.
- 2.5 C bread flour
- 1/2 C rye flour (a T or two can be cornmeal)
- 1/4-1/2 tsp yeast
- drizzle of honey
- scant T kosher salt
- generous 1 1/2 C lukewarm water
- sprig of fresh rosemary or other herb
- cornmeal for dusting
Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Then add the water and honey and stir until combined. The dough will be wet, and as they say, "shaggy". Cover and let sit in a warm, draft free place for 12-18 hours (18 is better). Then, put the bowl in the fridge at least overnight and up to one week. When you are ready to bake, turn the dough out onto a floured surface,cover loosely and let rest for 15 minutes. Then put some cornmeal on a cloth, add the rosemary to the dough and shape it into a ball the best you can. Don't knead and don't obsess. Put the ball on the cornmealed cloth, sprinkle some more cornmeal on top, and fold the cloth over the dough-ball. Let it rise for 2-3 hours. It should about double in size and not resist a finger poke. About half an hour before you bake, preheat the oven to 450°F with the dutch oven or lidded pot inside. When ready, take out the pot USING POTHOLDERS, turn the dough into the hot pot, give it shake, cover and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the lid and let bake an additional 10-30 minutes until golden brown and crusty. Turn it onto a rack to cool and then eat with butter!