Friday, November 17, 2006

No-Knead Bread

I know, I know. I haven’t been blogging. I knew when I saw the article in last Wednesdays’ New York Times about Jim Lahey’s bread recipe , that a new/old obsession would take over my being.

So I just took loaf number 4 out of the oven and I’m blogging about this because I need to talk about it.

I innocently started with loaf 1 to avoid cleaning my studio.

I didn’t bother to try to find out what instant yeast was. I was so impressed with this recipe because it seems as if it requires nothing special. And in the video, Jim Lahey emphasizes that the recipe is very forgiving.

In loaf one I used three cups of bread flour measured by SPOONING the flour into the cup. I followed the Times recipe (not the video ) and used 1-5/8 c. water. I used 1-1/4 t. sea salt and 1/4 t. Fleischmann’s Bread Machine Yeast (ideal for all RapidRise recipes). It contains only yeast and ascorbic acid.

Since I hadn’t baked bread for a few months, I proofed the yeast by putting it in about 1/4c. warm water (1/4 c. of the 1-5/8 called for in the recipe) that contained a pinch of sugar. Otherwise I followed the Times recipe.

Of course the probable reason for baking bread last Wednesday was that our heating system was on the fritz and it was cold in the house but I put the bread to rise on top of the refrigerator with the idea that it was the warmest place in the house.

I actually let it rise for 24 hours. I baked it in a 3 qt. ceramic casserole with a lid: preheat oven at 450 degrees with pot in the oven for at least 30 minutes. Plop bread into casserole, seam side up. It seems disastrous but shake the pot and all is well. Put lid on and bake for 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake an additional 15-22 minutes, et voilà!

I should have taken pictures but I didn’t. Go to Toast to see what my dough and bread looks like. It’s so amazing. What crumb! What crust! The loaf sings! My house smells fabulous!

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