Thursday, May 15, 2014

No Knead Whole Wheat Bread

My baking obsession has a new love. Move over biscuits, I am on to no-knead bread. This beautiful, whole wheat rustic loaf came out of the oven this morning. 

Of course I had to slice it right away and have a bite. I love the crispy crust, the soft, airy inside, and the savory taste. Perfect topped with jam and butter. I cannot even wait to use it on a grilled cheese (dinner, please come quick).

I am a yeast bread fanatic. I like the way it makes my house smell. I like the process of mixing, waiting, kneading, rising, waiting. The rhythm and consistency of the activity blends perfectly with the unpredictability of the outcome. 

Some days, my bread comes out perfectly. Some days, I wait hours and the bread never rises exactly right. I like the chance of that. And I really like kneading the dough. It is a work out for my arms! Just kidding, it is a fun, relaxing process. 

But I don't actually have half of the day to wait on bread some weeks (shocking, I know). So I attempted the new-to-me, no-knead bread making method. Jim Lahey made this famous, but apparently I missed the memo until now. 

I was a little skeptical about the process, but pleasantly surprised. The bread came out beautifully. I'll me honest, mine didn't rise as much as Jim's, but that could be because I used some wheat flour. And maybe got over excited and baked it early. 

The bread bakes in a covered pot in a round, rustic shape. Of course, my caste iron pot doesn't have an oven-safe lid. And a $250 Le Creuset Pot isn't in my budget right now. So I baked it in my pot and used another caste iron skillet as a lid. It still came out beautiful! Feel free to use an enamal, caste iron, or pyrex dish. 

No Knead Whole Wheat Bread
Adapted from Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread

2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 cup of bread flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon of active dry yeast
1 1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 1/3 cup of cool water

Measure flour by gently spooning it into measuring cups and leveling with a knife. Be careful not to over measure. Mix the flours, salt, and yeast in a medium bowl. Add water. Once everything is combined, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature. Bread should rise for 14-18 hours, until more than double in size. (I left mine over night and was slightly concerned that it would rise out of the bowl. But it was okay). 

After the bread rises, generously flour the counter. Using a spatula, scrap the dough only a floured surface. Pinch the dough into a round. Don't get too caught up with this, because it doesn't really matter. This is a rustic loaf, after all. Generously flour a dish towel and place the dough, seam side down, onto the towel. Top the dough with flour and fold towel over to cover. 

Let the dough rise for 2-3 hours. (Mine rose for 3 hours and was about double in size when it was done). When there is about 30 minutes left to the rise, turn the oven onto 450* and put the pot into the oven to heat. When the dough is ready, carefully remove the *hot* pot from the oven. Turn the dough out from the towel into the pot. The seam side will be up, that is okay. Pinch the dough slightly if you need to smooth it out. 

Cover the pot and bake the dough for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake 15-25 minutes, or until the bread it a deep brown, but not burned. Mine was done in 15 minutes. Remove the pot and use spatulas to take bread out. Let the bread cool completely before slicing. 

Store the bread on the counter in a plastic bag. I don't seal my bag completely the first day - this keeps the crust extra crunchy! Enjoy!


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