Life Changing Bread
Update: I’ve posted a newer version of this bread using two different methods besides the method in this post. Check it out here!
What I’m about to show you is something that has changed my life. When I first heard of it, I thought it seemed a bit too easy and was probably a trick of some sort. I thought, “If it was actually that easy, why doesn’t everybody do it?” After a few months of baking one loaf of no knead bread a week (at least), I can confirm that it is easy. And more people should do it.
The recipe could not be simplier. Through some trial and error, I’ve changed mine around a bit from the New York Times one.
1) Mix up the dry stuff a bit before you add water just to get it all distributed. You don't need to do any of that proofing business with the yeast. Just throw it in there.
2) Add water and mix dough around with your hands. It'll be too wet to actually knead.
3) Cover dough with plastic wrap and let it sit for 16-20 hours. It way more than doubles in size. Probably triples or quadruples.
4) After rising, scoop the dough onto a table that's been heavily floured.
5) Dust a clean dish towel with bran meal.
6) Sprinkle some more flour on the dough and sort of fold it over into a rough round shape.
7) Transfer this ball to the towel with the seam of the ball down on the towel.
8) Fold over the edges of the towel and let this rise for at least an hour. I know.
9) When you are thirty minutes out from baking, preheat your pot in a 500 degree oven without the lid on it.
10) When pot has been heating for 30 minutes, carefully remove and transfer dough to the pot. Flip it over so the seam is now UP in the pot. Put on the lid and cook for 30 minutes at 500 degrees. Then take off the lid (watch out for the escaping steam when you take the lid off). Bake for 15 more minutes to get a nice crust.
11) Let bread cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing into it.
Mix up the dry stuff a bit before you add water just to get it all distributed. You don’t need to do any of that proofing business with the yeast. Just throw it in there.
After the water is in there just kind of mix it all around with your hands. If it looks pretty you have mixed too much. Should look like this:
Cover that bad boy with plastic wrap and let it sit for 20 hours. It way more than doubles in size. Probably triples or quadruples.
If you touch this glob you will note that it is very moist. You couldn’t really knead it if you wanted to. So don’t. Just “pour” it onto a table with some flour.
Wait back up. The photo just reminded me. Get out a gross colored towel and put some flour and if you want bran on it like so:
Ok. Back to the dough. It is on your floured surfaced oozing. Sprinkle some more flour on it and sort of fold it over into a rough round shape. A ball. An ugly ball.
Next, pick up this wet mess and put it ugly side down on the bran/flour towel. This is the first time this concoction looks like something you would want to eat.
Fold over the edges of the towel and let this rise for 2 more hours. I know. That seems like a long time. Trust me. Worth it. Go play a video game or something.
Next you want to get out one of these.
This is the hardest part about this recipe. Getting this pot. It is expensive. Obviously you don’t need this exact pot to make this bread. What you are basically looking for is a really sturdy cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic pot. You want something 6 or 8 quarts with a lid. I use this pot for everything. It is fantastic and worth every cent.
Back to the bread. The reason you want to use a pot like this is because you probably don’t have a large steam injected oven like a traditional bakery. So you need to create a smaller oven (the pot) that keeps the steam and heat from escaping. About thirty minutes before you are ready to cook, put just the pot (not lid) in the oven at 500 degrees. You want this thing blazing hot. Then take your bread and flip it again and set it in the pot. If you get it lopsided that is fine, it will straighten a bit during baking. This is what I ended up with:
Put on the lid and cook for 30 minutes at 500 degrees. Then take off the lid (watch out for the escaping steam when you take the lid off). Bake for 15 more minutes to get a nice crust. Pull it out and try to get the bread out of the pot without burning yourself.
Then cool the beast on a wire rack. I don’t have a wire rack. I use the wire handles from my pizza stone or a spare oven rack. Same idea. You will ultimately end up with this:
This will change your life. After eating it with sandwiches for a week or two, I tried a normal piece of store bought bread and I’m not sure I can eat it anymore as weird as that sounds.
While this post was kind of long, let me assure you, it is NOT hard. It takes a day, but probably takes less than 15 or 20 minutes of actual WORK. It’s mostly just waiting. And it is worth the wait.