Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Daily Special – Keeping the House Warm in Winter (No-Knead Bread)

Ahh, the change in seasons…  Motorcycle jacket vented panels are replaced with thermal liners and electric vests.  One begins to wonder if perhaps riding halfway up Mount Lemmon twice is a wiser tactic than riding all the way up, once.  Or an even better idea - head west and ride Kitt Peak, instead.  As the temperatures drop from triple digits (and then some) to more in the frost on my car, snow in sight, plant killing range, my morning muesli gets a hit in the microwave before breakfast and my daily bread shape-shifts from tortilllas to hearty loaves.  Because, while having your oven roaring at 500 degrees in the summer is a bad idea, it’s a fine way for those of us without central heating to warm up the house!*

So, the first day snow hit the Catalinas and I found myself feeling like a character from Puccini’s Boheme (yes, I was wearing a scarf and hat indoors) while cursing my high tech low solar heat gain coefficient windows, I knew it was time.   Here's the result of my version of the “No-Knead Bread” method that took the world by storm back in 2006.  The one that purports even a six year old (or four, or eight, depending on your source) can make bread better than almost any bakery.  It’s true.  See?

No Knead Bread
Making this bread is less work than running out to the bakery.  Cheaper by a long shot, too!

Basic Recipe:
(My favorite tweaks and variations not shown, since you'll find your own soon enough.)

Make yourself a really too wet dough by slinging flour, salt, yeast (1/4 tsp per three cups flour) and water in the bowl, mix it ‘round, oh, maybe 10 times and walk away.  For 18 hours.

Use a bit more flour as needed to form the dough into a loose roundish kind of boule shape, spending no more than 30 seconds doing so. Walk a way for an hour or two more.

Now, here’s the good part:  twist that oven throttle all the way to 500 and put in an oven proof pot to preheat.  If you have my  silly little easy-bake sized and quality oven, it will take at least an hour to reach the proper temp.  The house is a few degrees warmer already, isn’t it?

Take your blob of dough, toss it in the pot (plop!), cover said pot (don’t forget, the pot has been in the oven, so you need an oven mitt!), and walk away for a half hour.   The covered pot, a clever method of approximating a professional steam injected oven, is the genius of this recipe.  Everything else – the no-kneading, the wet dough, the low yeast percentage, the long cool temp rising periods - has already been done.

Uncover and cook ‘til done. (Another 10-15 minutes).  So, yeah, it took you almost 24 hours to make the bread, but hands on time was probably less than five minutes.

Consider peeling off that scarf and hat.  And start the next loaf now, since this one will be gone by tomorrow.

*Yes, it routinely freezes in Tucson (last year we hit a low of 18F and pipes all over town were bursting like it was the Fourth of July, okay?), and no, I don't have central heating.  And, are you ready for this?... I don't have central air conditioning either. Which is why there's no way in hell I'll make this bread anywhere between March and October.  Tortillas are much better for the environment during the summer months.


Claudia said...

Yum! I tried the no knead bread thing a few years ago with mixed results. Seeing this beautiful loaf makes me want to give it another go. My current favorite bread craze is from the book "Artisan bread in 5 minutes a day" it uses sort of a non-fussy sourdough approach where you have an on-going blob of dough in the fridge. No A/C in Tucson? Seriously, you ARE tough!

Paula said...

Yes, it took me a few tries and tweaks to get the bread to come out how I like it. I think I'm the only person on the planet who doesn't really love sourdough, and it makes me insane that it's nearly impossible to buy anything that ISN'T sourdough these days. So I've been motivated to perfect this recipe!
I do have one window unit evap cooler... (:p)

Paula said...

Regarding the no-AC: that's why the croissants can be so dang tricky!


Linda said...

18 hours? Seriously? Even with central air????

Paula said...

Seriously. Even with central air. ;-)
Directly related to the fact you use so little yeast. Develops more flavor that way. In fact, you are NOT supposed to "set it in a warm place" as you do for most breads. Some other recipes I've used have you rise it in the fridge. But for this one, I just sit on the counter.

anna said...

i have to try this - still havent tried one of the no-need-to-knead varities.

Paula said...

I admit it took a try or two to get it exactly how I like it but, wow, seriously easier than running out to the grocery. And ridiculously cheaper than a $5.00 "artisan" loaf.