Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I (Don't) Need You to Knead Me

But I would still love for you to love me.  And yes, I did completely overhaul my page, it was high time for an update!

And you are welcome, that song will be stuck in your head all day now.

For the past week or so (AKA ever since the epic disaster of the last bread recipe) I have been scouring the internet to learn what I can about No Knead bread.  As everyone else has learned it started with one Mr. Lahey recipe in the New York Times and has seen a recent revival, or as I like to say obsession, with current humans.

Now, as usual, I saw the original recipe, found something in it I did not like (the dutch oven in this case) and immediately started plotting how to get around this.  As I searched the depths of google (or at least the first two pages) I quickly discovered multiple things:
  • Most used the dutch oven
  • Some used cookie sheets
  • Some used loaf pans
  • Everything baked at a minimum of 450
Fair enough. That told me all I needed to know- loaf pan was just fine.  See, never take things at face value, or you will buy a dutch oven when you really don't need one.  Instead, just use your Rachael Ray Oven Lovin' loaf pan!

One more note, I opted to make this a VERY controlled experiment.  As I am but one human in this apartment, I decided to try a minimal recipe so that A) I did not have a gigantic amount of bread and B) I barely wasted anything if it sucked.

Always be prepared for something to suck.

Here's my approach:
-1 1/2 C all purpose flour
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/8 tsp yeast (yea I know, you have to eyeball it from 1/4)
-3/4 c lukewarm water (you may need a tad more depending on how you measure your flour)

Mix all of your dry ingredients together in a bowl and add the water.

I like to use a Rachael Ray "spoonula" for it because I hate being sticky and those are more sturdy than others I have.

Anyway mix all this up until it is just incorporated and your dough is rough looking and sticky.  See the picture? Sticky.

Cover the bowl with plastic (I used one of those reusable covers that looks like a shower cap) and let it sit overnight (or at around 12 hours).

I do believe it would be better if it is in a warm spot, especially for the second raising later.

My apartment claims it is 75, but my sherpa throw I always have on begs to differ.

Anyway, suppose you make this at night and the next morning you wake up and run to the kitchen like it's Christmas to see how the dough looks.  It should be poofed and have dots across the top, maybe even more than mine did.

Mine got to raise about 14 hours, but seriously I am not convinced of the temperature.
You always have the option of heating your oven to about 200 and turning it off and letting the bread sit in there.

Moving on.  When I was ready to bake I greased the sides of my Oven Lovin, which I now believe was not needed.

Most people turn the dough out onto a floured surface and work it around and then let it raise again in a towel.  I opted to completely avoid this. 

I got my dough out of the bowl after putting a little flour on top and worked it around in my hands for a few minutes.  I rounded it up and dropped it into the pan that it would bake in.

This is where the next time I will let it raise in my oven.  Instead, I left it on the burner that is always warm from my pilot light and covered it again for 2 hours.
It did raise the second time, maybe not as sigificantly as it could have if it was warm.  However, it was completely delicious!

Preheat your oven to 450 and bake for about 30 minutes if you are doing a small loaf in a large pan like I managed to do, and maybe up to 45 if you use a larger recipe.  Though I scaled mine down, some of the ones online use as many as 6 c of flour.

Here is the little cutie on my makeshift cooling rack.

I KNOW! I have an entire RRay set, a kitchenaid, a cake pop maker...and I don't have a cooling rack.  I am working on it!

Anyway, the result was like a ciabatta or baguette in the sense of it creating a delicious crispy crust around the outside.  It was not riddled with air pockets in the center, however, most likely due to not really rising much the second time. 

If you read the internet, everyone seems to act like you won't achieve this crispy crust without a dutch oven.  I contribute this achievement to the fact it was in a taller pan so that the heat rolled back in towards the top.  Again, a lot of people make rolls or baguettes on cookie sheets, so use what you have!

Seriously though, it is beyond delicious.  I mean beyond.  It reminds me of an olive oil focaccia I get from Meijer, but TASTIER!  And much more moist on the inside. Tomorrow, around 1/3 of it will become the most delicious turkey sandwich.

If you have a large family, opt for the recipes with more yield.  If you are a single soul like me and you want a small loaf, or a few rolls (shape balls and bake them on a cookie sheet) use this recipe.  I am a firm believer in super fresh, even if it means using smaller quantities and making it more often.

Next, I will be trying various flavor combinations. Pin It Now!

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