Hiya! How happy are you that it's Friday?!! Do you have any big plans or can you kick back and just enjoy the fact that it's June a little bit? If you can, then may I suggest you make it a bread and jam weekend, Frances? Do you know the Frances books by Russell Hoban? Those are some of my and my kids' all-time favorites, especially the one where Frances won't eat anything but bread and jam. I'm thinking that sounds pretty good right now. You can throw together a batch of the Blueberry-Blackberry Jam I posted yesterday since it's so easy-peasy and whip up of a batch of this artisan-style, no-knead country white bread, courtesy of bread guru, Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery. You won't believe that a loaf of bread this awesome could come from your very own kitchen, but I promise you that it can! It's pure genius!! Grab the bread flour and get ready for some Famous Fridays bread magic!
This recipe is not new. It's been floating around the internet for over 10 years when Mark Bittman (NY Times) first published an article about Lahey's radical and innovative method for baking artisanal bread at home that didn't require kneading or any other special techniques. It stirred up a lot of controversy and also a lot of batches of dough, as bakers everywhere realized how simple a process artisanal baking could actually be. Since that time, Lahey has gone on to write several cookbooks and become a worldwide sensation. One taste of this bread and you will know why!
WARNING!!!! This bread literally only takes 2 minutes to stir together and requires very little hands-on time throughout the entire process, but it's pretty much a 1 1/2 day stint from start to finish (unless you keep insane hours) so be prepared and plan ahead. Just sayin...
That said, the process is crazy easy--like dumb easy. In a large bowl, you mix together bread flour, sugar, salt, instant yeast and water and let the mixture sit for at least 12 hours and up to 18 (though I've gone a little longer with good results) until the dough has bulked up and is covered with bubbles.
Here's a close-up so you can get a sense of how bubbly you want it to be.
Then, all you have to do is let it rise twice for a total of little over 2 hours and bake it at a very high temp in a Dutch oven or heavy lidded pot.
When you take the lid off, you'll want to do a little dance (but be careful, that is one hot pot!) because what you see looks like it was made by a pro!
Golden brown, crunchy, chewy crust, light airy interior--it's everything you want bread to be and more because you actually MADE IT YOURSELF!! No matter how many times I make this, I still have to gasp and ooh and aah...and then stuff a piece or two into my mouth!! Truly, it's a life changer, in both the taste and confidence department!!
So, enjoy your weekend--hopefully there will be a Jim Lahey bread and some jam in it if I've done my job properly! We will be watching quite a bit of hockey and doing some more wedding prep-gotta get the hubby a new tuxedo shirt, but I'll be back next week with some more great recipes and chatter as we get closer and closer to the official start of summer and the big wedding on this side of the pond. Yay!!
Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread-Famous Fridays
Makes one large boulé
Prep Time: Only a few minutes to mix dough, but at least 12-18 hours for it to sit and rest; Rise Time: About 2 hours; Bake Time 45 minutes-1 hour
- 3 cups bread flour, plus additional for dusting
- 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/2 cups water (not hot) plus an additional tablespoon or two more if necessary
- Cornmeal or wheat bran for dusting
1. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, yeast, salt and sugar together. Add the water and use a large rubber spatula to stir all the ingredients together well to form a very sticky dough. If dough seems dry, add another tablespoon of water. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set aside for 12-18 hours at room temperature until the surface of the dough is covered with bubbles.
2. Lightly flour a board or clean counter and turn the dough out onto it. Flour your hands and sprinkle some more flour on top of the dough. Fold the dough over on itself a few times, scraping it off the surface and adding a bit more flour as necessary. Cover loosely with the plastic wrap and let it sit for 15-20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile lay a clean cotton or linen kitchen towel down--terrycloth won't be good here-- and sprinkle the surface with some cornmeal or wheat bran. Flour your hands again and pick up the rested dough and try to form it into a ball, pulling the dough out and stretching it under itself so that the seam is on the bottom--this is a bit messy and sticky but it is right. Place the dough seam side down onto the towel and sprinkle more cornmeal or wheat bran on top of it. Fold up the towel so that the dough is covered or if it's not large enough, cover with another towel. Let rise for 2 hours.
4. After 1 hour and 15 minutes, place the Dutch oven or sturdy large pot with a tightly fitting lid (at least a 6-8 quart size) on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven. Turn the oven to 450ºF. When the full 2 hours of rising time are done, remove the pot from the oven (careful, it will be very hot) and take off the lid. Quickly unwrap the dough from the towel and try to plop it into the hot pot with the seam side up. If you don't, it's no big worry--just leave it seam-side down and place the lid back on and put it back into the oven on the baking sheet asap.
5. Bake the bread covered for 30 minutes. Then, uncover the pot and continue to bake an additional 15-30 minutes, until the crust is a dark golden brown and the bread sounds kind of hollow when you tap on it. Remove the pot from the oven and carefully transfer the bread to a cooling rack (this is a bit messy because of the crumbs--if you like, set a baking sheet beneath the rack to catch them). Let the bread cool for at least 1 hour. Store bread well wrapped at room temperature for about a week but ours never, ever makes it to that!!
Note: Recipe adapted from Jim Lahey via Mark Bittman. I've tinkered a little bit with the amount of salt (I think the original has too much) and the rising time.