My daughter Reya sent us a photo on Sunday morning of the bread that she had rustled up for her uni flat mates for brunch. Not only did it look delicious the recipe sounded insanely simple – just a few ingredients and no kneading!
Now I have always been of the “beefy forearms, lots of kneading” school of breadmaking – so the idea of making a bread without this labour intensive process seemed very alien to me. I had heard of this method from one or two bread making aficionados during lock down (which is apparently based on a recipe by a recipe by New York baker Jim Lahey) but had not really had the incentive to give it a go.
But Reya’s photo and recipe, plus an empty bread bin, spurred me on to give this no knead method a try. I must say that I was amazed by the results and would go as far as saying this is one of the best loaves I’ve ever made!
The loaf relies on two things – firstly a long fermentation time – 8 hours plus which allow long stretchy strands of gluten to develop and being cooked in a pre-heated cast iron pot or Dutch oven. I suspect that if you don’t have the latter then the result would not be as good as the pot acts by increasing the radiant energy heating the bread, and by increasing the humidity of the baking environment.
I’m now going to experiment and start making loaves with different kinds of flours.
No brainer bread!
- Large mixing bowl
- Cast iron casserole (dutch oven)
- 500 grams Bread flour
- 1 teaspoon fast acting yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 450 millilitres Warm water
- .5 tablespoon olive oil
- Put all the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl and gradually add the water. Mix until it all comes together. Smear the top with the olive oil then cover the bowl with a cloth and leave for 8 hours plus or over night.
- The next morning/after 8 hours you should have a lovely bubbly gloop!Switch on your oven and place in the casserole/Dutch oven (with lid) allowing both to come up to temperature – 200 C.Meanwhile scrape out the dough onto a generously floured surfaced and gently shape into a loaf trying not to disturb the lovely bubbles that have developed. Place your bowl over the loaf to let rise for a little longer while the oven and casserole come up to temperature.When the oven has reached 200 degrees C carefully remove the very hot Dutch oven and plop in the shaped loaf. There is no need to oil. With a sharp knife cut a slash a couple of mm thick down the centre of the loafPut on the lid and cook for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes turn the oven up to 250 C and remove the lid of the casserole and cook for a further 30 minutes until the loaf is nice and crisp and brown.