In November 2006 Mark Bittman published the recipe for his No-Knead Bread, which immediately took the food blogging world by storm. I was blissfully unaware, however, since at the time I was neither a food blogger nor a yeast baker. But now I dabble in both, so although I've arrived late to the party, I'm still excited to be in on the hoopla.
This bread was amazing with dinner, dipped into olive oil, and for breakfast, spread with salted butter.
In the intervening two+ years since the recipe's publication, it's been baked, varied, analyzed and perfected by many experienced bakers. Even Mark Bittman has revisited his recipe, making it quicker, and devising a whole-grain version. For my first attempt at this bread, I used a blog with step by step pictures and tips - so easy even the blogger's four year-old can make it (and he shows us how).
- I followed the recipe to the letter.
- I need some practice in the turning out and shaping arena. The four year old can shape a better loaf than I can! The surface of mine was not taut. And even though I thought I'd dusted the tea towel generously enough, the loaf oozed in to the towel. Or maybe the dough was too wet??
Here's the dough after about 8 hours. See all those bubbles? They are going to be holes in the bread when they grow up!!
- I put a circle of parchment in the bottom of my pot so that the loaf would come out (rather than stick on the bottom) at the end of its cooking time.
- My bread was lopsided and flat, which I will try to improve on future loafs.
- My pot tolerated the high heat in the oven this time, but it did not seem happy. I don't think the handles will hold up to that heat on a regular basis. So the next time I make this bread it will need to be in a different pot.
The recipe specifies a 6-8 quart heavy pot. I'd really like to have a new 6 quart enameled cast iron pot but (1) I don't want to pay for one, and (2) I'm having a bout of cooking-induced elbow tendinitis (from wrestling with 25 lb turkey in January), and those pots are heavy! I've read that this bread can be baked in a crock pot insert, but mine's not big enough.
There is no question that a pan will be found/bought. Because I need to be able to make this bread; it's just that great.
This was the kind of bread that dreams are made of: crusty on the outside, substantial and chewy on the inside, with just the right kind of holes to soak up olive oil or butter or just be their splendid holey selves.
In the interest of full disclosure, I'll have to say that my husband did not rave about this bread. Instead, as I gushed on and on about my own baking, there was a restrained subtly approving murmur from his quarter. Under brutal cross-examination, he admitted that he thought it was lacking a little complexity of flavor. Hmm, we'll have to see what he thinks of it next time ;)