Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Let Them Eat Bread!

I wish! The bread making experiment was more like, "Let them not eat bread." This is an utter shame because I love bread. You know all the people who jumped on the Atkins bandwagon and renounced all things carb? I was not one of those people. I enjoy my bagels, breads, muffins, and croissants far too much to give them up in the name of weight loss. Weight loss, shmate loss, I say.

When I read about Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread in the New York Times, I was definitely intrigued. Plus it had Mark Bittman's seal of approval and truth be told, I have a bit of a crush on Mr. Bittman. Mix all the ingredients together and let time do the work? I could do laundry and vaccum in the meantime (ok, I'm lying. I watched episodes of The Wire on DVD).

The next day, I dumped the lovely ball of dough into a CorningWare bowl, popped it in the oven, and breathlessly waited the arrival of a delicious loaf. Nutella, raspberry jam, garlic butter. The possibilities were endless.

Things were proceeding smoothly (or at least I thought they were). I pulled the bread out of the oven, all 1950's housewife like, and congratulated myself because I was a career woman, domestic goddess and TV-watching superstar. I cut the loaf and peered down. Something was wrong. Terribly wrong. The bread was gummy. Not in a delicious gummy bear or boba like way but in a wet cement kind of way. My unscientific, amateur conclusion was that the oven temperature was off such that the outside of the loaf developed a delicious brown crust which led me to believe the inside was cooked well before it was time. Or, I should have bothered to wash my cast iron pot and used it instead of believing the CorningWare would serve the same purpose. That, or Mr. Lahey was personally flipping me the bird.

I will admit I ate the outside of the loaf to convince myself the experiment wasn't a total failure. But let's be real, it was darn tootin' close. The article said even an 8-year-old could pull this off perfectly. Crazy 8-year-old kitchen wizards!

No-Knead Bread

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

From NY Times


  1. Oh no!! I had wanted to try this recipe and had saved it on my "to make" list. It did look easy and fun. Well, thank you for taking the time to make it, bake it, and then write (honestly) about it. Now I can save my time and money and just go to the bakery for crisp artisinal bread.


    PS How do you find the time to make bread and post at 8am?

  2. Beatriz HernandezApril 14, 2010 at 9:51 AM

    Azmina!! I don't ever, ever eat bread, but your bread looks yummy! Does the gooey part have less calories? Just asking:)

  3. Kat, I'll try it again one of these days. Can't let the 8-year-olds beat me! Plus, I'm sure you'll have better luck than me.

    PS: Blogger lets you pick the date and time of your posts ;)

    B, I'm not really sure how we're friends but I'm glad we are :)

  4. it LOOKS good...so i say congrats, 1 out of 2 ain't bad :)

  5. Tricia, that's pretty much the story of my life ;)


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