Almost No-Knead Bread has that soft and delicious crumb with craters that butter just begs to drip into and a crusty exterior. It’s super easy to make and even non-bread bakers can do it.
Has anyone ever explained the Bears and the Bees to you? Well…This Almost No-Knead Bread could be the answer to a number of questions!
Don’t worry, this is still a family safe blog. I am referring to the time of the year when the bees act like they had a few alcoholic beverages before they left the hive, and slowly drive you nuts by buzzing around your last-ditch attempts to eat outside. The bears are a description of myself. I am starting to crave carbs as if I am preparing to hibernate for the next several months, only to wake up when spring is back. Oh wait, I will not be missing a meal between now and spring, I just want to eat like I will be. Are big sweaters still in fashion? Does this phenomenon occur to people in warmer regions? Please tell me.
After I made My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies last weekend, I started in on some bread dough. John and I were planning on grilling steaks the next day, and I generally buy a crusty baguette to serve. Meat, bread wine oh my, Julie is in heaven!
I tried several different attempts to get an artisan loaf last year. I did everything but stand on my head, and never got that great crusty exterior with a flavorful light center. I wanted those craters that allow the butter to seep in. The vision has me swooning.
I saw a recipe in Cooks Illustrated for “No-Knead Bread”. I have never had a recipe fail from Cooks Illustrated, so one more attempt to get my crusty bread was worth another try. I am not getting any compensation for recommending them, but they’re great for teaching techniques.
In order to make this recipe, you will need at least a 6-quart Dutch oven that can withstand 500°F. I have a Le Cruset Dutch oven that worked wonderfully. I did have to exchange the metal knob that it came with for one that would withstand this high temperature. It wasn’t very expensive, and I just leave it on there now.
Start by grabbing a mild-flavored lager beer (every recipe should start like this right?). Place 6 tablespoons of the beer in a container to allow it to come to room temperature. Drink the rest before it gets warm. John did this for me for the sake of science. Or so he says.
In a large bowl, whisk together 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast. Add the 6 tablespoons of room temperature beer, 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of room temperature water, and 1 tablespoon white vinegar. Mix until a shaggy ball forms. I used my hand to do this, but you could use a wooden spoon or spatula. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit a room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.
On the day of baking, lay an 18″ x 12″ piece of parchment paper inside a 10-inch skillet and spray with vegetable oil spray. Lightly flour your counter and knead the bread dough by hand 10 to 15 times. Shape the dough into a ball by pulling the edges to the middle. Put the loaf, seam side down, on the prepared parchment paper. Spray the surface of the dough with oil spray. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 2 hours. (Dough should barely spring back when poked with a knuckle).
Thirty minutes prior to baking, move your oven rack to the lowest position. Put your empty dutch oven pan and lid into the oven, and heat oven to 500°F. Lightly flour the top of the dough, and using a sharp or serrated knife, cut a 6-inch slice across the top of the dough, approximately 1/2 inch deep.Carefully remove the pot from the oven and take off the lid. Pick up the loaf by lifting the parchment overhang. Lower into the pot and let any excess parchment overhang the pot edges.Cover pot and place it in the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425°F and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake until the crust is deep golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes longer.
Carefully remove loaf from the pot and transfer to a wire rack. Discard parchment paper and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours, before slicing.
Store in double layer plastic at room temperature. Recrisp bread unwrapped in a 450-degree oven for 6 to 8 minutes.
English Muffin bread is another great no-fuss bread.