Thursday, November 09, 2006

How is that wacky New York Times bread recipe?

Yesterday, the NYT published a recipe for no-knead yeast bread. The idea is that you make a very wet dough and give it a long fermentation, and that the magic of fermentation causes the glutens to develop and do their thing just like they would if you kneaded it. Then you bake this very wet dough in a preheated covered pot, essentially creating a little high-humidity oven like the fancy bakeries have. Some total genius baker named Jim Lahey figured this out and decided to tell the world.

Here's the URL for the article:

I was inspired. I went to the store and got some yeast and some whole wheat and rye flours and tried this thing.


It's actually really good. It develops a nice, hard, crispy crust. It has big holes in the bread just like fancy bakery bread. Awesome!

The recipe, as reinterpreted by me:

  • 3 c flour (I used 1 1/2 c whole wheat, 3/4 c dark rye, 1/4 c wheat bran, 1/4 c coarse corn meal, and 1/4 c 10-grain cereal)
  • 1/4 t (that's teaspoon, baby) instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 t salt
  • 1 5/8 cups water
  • 6- to 8-quart covered pot (cast iron, ceramic, Pyrex, or enamel--like a dutch oven)
  • Plastic wrap
  • Non-terry cotton cloth(s)

Combine ingredients in a large bowl, stir it all up, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm (70 degree) room to do its thing for 12-20 hours. I let mine go for more like 22, and it was fine.

Lightly flour a work surface and put the dough on it. You may have to scrape the dough out of the bowl. Also, because it's been fermenting for so long, the dough may smell slightly of butyric acid (the smell formerly known as "vomit"). This will be especially pronounced if you used rye flour, as I did. Anyway, flour your hands well (really well), flatten the dough, and fold it over itself a few times.

Let the dough blob "rest" for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle a cotton cloth (flour sack towel or t-shirt) with flour and put it on a flat surface in a relatively warm room.

Flour your hands again and form the dough into a ball. Put the ball smooth side up on the floured cloth. Drape another cloth over the top of the dough ball.

Let the dough ball rise until more than double in size. Just assume this will take 2 hours.

After 1 1/2 hours, put your empty pot in the oven and heat to 450 degrees. (The pot needs to heat for at at least half an hour.)

When the dough ball is ready, remove the hellishly hot pot from the oven and gently transfer the dough ball into the hot pot. It doesn't really matter whether the dough ends up right side up or upside down. The baker dude says you should put the ball ugly side up.

Put the pot back in the 450 degree oven and put on the lid. Bake with the lid on for 30 minutes, then take the lid off and bake for another 15-30 minutes.


At 7:47 PM, November 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thumbs up on this. (That is, your version.) I tried it with mostly white flour and a little cornmeal. Texture is fantastic; flavor too bland, so I'll have to try different combinations in future.

My house virtually never gets to 70, so I heated up the oven a little and put the dough in to rise for, like, 22 hours, as you did. Worked great.

Really, this is quite easy, something one can imagine doing fairly often, especially if you did a couple of loaves at a time.

Anyway, thanks!

-- Mike

At 3:08 PM, December 14, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yum, yum says it all!!! My friend made this bread Saturday 12-09-06. I love great bread and this ones all that. He said that the recipe said to use 1 5/8 cups of water..maybe should use only 1 1/2 cups. We went out and bought some great cheeses from a cheese shop, toasted the bread with olive oil, then melted different cheeses on it and topped with some more olive kind of snack anyday!! A MOST TRY!!!


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