No-Knead Bread

Slow Rise Fermentation

The taste of fresh bread! The crust! What better to eat? We love a baguette, a croissant or a whole grain loaf of bread. Provided, of course, it’s not some kind of factory baked product with lots of unnecessary ingredients and E-numbers.

So why don’t we bake our own bread? Probably because it seems to be too much work as it would require baking 3 or 4 times per week.

But things have changed since we found a recipe for no-knead bread, courtesy of Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery, New York. It was published in the New York Times in 2006 and can also be found in his book My Bread. It’s time consuming (it’s nearly 24 hours from start to finish) but not labour intensive. It’s simple and straightforward with a great result. We truly love it.

The recipe is based on slow rise fermentation. With only one gram of yeast in combination with 18+2 hours of rest, the yeast will do a wonderful job. The dough will be perfect. And kneading, as you would expect, is not required.

Origin

The origin of the recipe is not very clear. Earlier references include 1999 (Suzanne Dunaway from California), 1972 (Albert E. Brumley) and numerous grandmothers in the UK, France and Germany. Perhaps the oldest reference is to Elizabeth Moxon who described a no kneading bread recipe in 1764 as shown in this nice instructive video.
Her recipe: To half a peck of flour, put a full jill of new yeast, and a little salt, make it with new milk (warmer than from the cow) first put the flour and barm together, then pour in the milk, make it a little stiffer than a seed-cake, dust it and your hands well with flour, pull it in little pieces, and mould it with flour very quick; put it in the dishes, and cover them with a warm cloth (if the weather requires it) and let them rise till they are half up, then set them in the oven, (not in the dishes, but turn them with tops down upon the peel;) when baked rasp them.
Interesting that she rasps the bread: she is not interested in the crust!

What You Need

  • 400 gram of Flour (we used 200 gram of Whole Grain Flour for a small bread. Also nice: combine 100 gram of Flour with 300 gram of Whole Grain Flour)
  • 1 gram Instant Yeast
  • 4 gram Salt (this is less than usual, most recipes for bread would say 6-8 gram)
  • 300 gram Water (we used 315 given the use of whole grain flour)
  • Additional Flower

What You Do

The easiest way is to read and follow the recipe and video as provided by the New York Times.

Or if you feel confident: mix flour, yeast and salt. Add the water and create one mixture. Let rest in a bowl covered with foil for 18 hours or so (24 hours is also fine, it simply depends on your planning). Remove from bowl, fold 4 times, dust with additional flour and let rest on a towel dusted with flour for 2 hours or until doubled in size. Heat your oven to 235˚ Celsius or 450˚ Fahrenheit. Make sure the pot is also hot. We used a 20 cm Le Creuset Cast Iron Round Casserole. Put the dough, seam side up, in the pot, close it and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for 15 to 30 minutes until it is nicely browned. Let cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing it.

PS One of our favourite combinations is 200 gram of whole grain flour with 200 gram of T65 meal (from France). Use 300ml of water and reduce the first proof to 12 hours. Tasty bread with a beautiful crust! Bake for 30+15 minutes.

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