Wednesday, September 4, 2013

No-Knead Artisan Bread

 This exceptionally good bread uses just four ingredients. If, as I did, you feel tempted to cut down on the salt, don’t! The finished product is perfectly balanced as is, and doesn’t taste salty.
Every loaf perfect! 
Under the title “Crusty Bread,” the recipe for this outstanding loaf first appeared in The
New York TimesIve modified the instructions for preparing it, and have happily made this excellent bread many times. 

No-Knead Artisan Bread: 

3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1-¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. instant yeast
1-½ c. water
Additional flour, as needed

Combine flour, salt and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add water all at once, mixing with floured hands until dough forms a soft ball and pulls away from sides of bowl. Cover bowl loosely with wax or parchment paper, storing in a warm place away from drafts for 6-to-8 hr. or until dough doubles in volume (see Note).  

Preheat oven to 450 deg. F. When oven reaches desired temperature, place an empty, ungreased cast-iron pot with lid into oven for 30 min. My 4 qt. (4 L) pot worked extremely well, as does one that is 5-½ qt. (5.5 L). While the pot is heating, flour surface of dough in the bowl, as well as flouring your hands. Turning the bowl in quarter circles, lift dough from edges of bowl, sifting additional flour over hands and around bowl’s edges as you lightly shape dough into a ball. Dough will be soft; don't overwork it. As pot continues to heat, once again cover shaped dough with wax or parchment paper.

Trim a piece of parchment to make a “sling” under ball of dough, ensuring paper generously overhangs edges of pot. This “sling” will help you position the dough at the heated pot’s centre to form a perfectly round loaf rather than a misshapen one. Because the pot will be extremely hot, the logic of using a parchment “sling” will be obvious once you remove the pot lid to add the ball of dough.

With dough ball centred on parchment, carefully lower both into pot. Cover and bake 30 min. Remove lid, lowering heat to 375 deg. F. and continuing to bake 10-to-12 min. longer. Immediately transfer loaf from pot to cooling rack. Discard parchment

To give your bread a “bakery” look, dust the cooled, baked crust with ½ tsp. flourThis bread keeps well, even unwrapped. For a softer crust, store loaf in plastic bag. This loaf is also superb when lightly toasted.

Made at a cool temperature, this bread may take up to 12 hr. to double in volume. Don’t rush it! If you let the dough proceed at its own pace and ensure the yeast is well within its its expiry date, you’ll always enjoy excellent results.

Unbleached flour, salt, yeast, and ...

Water! How easy is that? Allow dough to rise 6-to-8 hr.

The right way: Dough rises in a large bowl topped with wax paper

The wrong way: Dough rises in a small bowl topped with cello wrap  

As dough rises, trim enough parchment paper to overhang
sides of pot. This 
sling” will help centre dough in pot

Not too large ... not too small ... but just right!

As dough doubles in volume, heat pot and lid 30 450 deg. F.

Turn floured bowl in quarter circles 
The right way: Transfer floured dough ball 
to pot so that sling” overhangs sides. 
Cover and bake as directed.

The wrong way: With no sling” and 
unfloured hands, dough sticks  

Transfer dough to pot using sling

Cover pot, allowing parchment to overhang sides

This bread’s pleasing appearance and chewy 
texture will make it a household favorite!

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