when life gives you snow in late March... bake bread!

When I looked out the window Monday and saw the snow, I decided it was a good day to try the No-Knead Bread recipe that I printed off the internet. Today is Wednesday and it's snowing again - maybe even a bit more snow this morning. Everyone is so tired of it! Making bread and having the smell fill the house helped me cope with this tiresome weather.
It took me less than five minutes to mix the bread up, and that included going to the laundry room to look for the white vinegar.
I used my Bosch mixer, though the recipe mixes the dough by hand. I say, anytime you can use the mixer, do it! My Bosch is 32 years old - we got it when we lived in Germany. I use it almost every week - for cookies, not bread. I've not been much of a bread maker, though that may change after trying this recipe.

I took this picture to show you the Red Star Quick-Rise Yeast I used. I recently read a comparison of rapid-rise yeasts and the Red Star brand got the top rating - even over SAF. The recipe only calls for 1/4 teaspoon of yeast - the key to this recipe is the long rising time.
The recipe says that after it is mixed up the dough will be shaggy and sticky. That's true. I moved it from my Bosch mixer to this bowl to rise...at room temperature for at least 8, up to 18 hours. I made the bread at noon and by evening it still didn't look 'risen' enough. So I let it rise overnight and then finished the next morning. That's a long time! If you want bread for dinner you have to start it at 9 p.m. the night before!
I took the bread out of the bowl and placed on my floured counter then kneaded it for only 15 seconds. Then placed it on this parchment paper, covered the top with butter (I hate PAM) and covered it with plastic wrap to rise for two more hours. It really does rise to fill a 10-inch pot. The parchment method is the Cook's Illustrated method. In the recipe below, you rise the loaf on a floured dish cloth and turn it into the (note this: pre-heated pan).

Here is the bread after it came out of the oven. This is my old Club roaster pan - you can use a dutch oven, pyrex, enamel or whatever - it needs to be oven proof and it needs to have a heat-proof lid. This is a big loaf - the picture doesn't show that very well.

The recipe is floating around blogland. I was curious about where it came from, so I went to the original New York Times article link here to get the details. The Sullivan Street Bakery is a NYC artisan bakery that makes bread that delicious with a perfect, crisp crust. As it turns out, the recipe is also featured in Cooks Illustrated Best Recipes of 2009 recipe magazine. Their addition to the recipe is the vinegar and the need to hand-knead the bread for 15 seconds after the first rise, which I did, because, after all, kneading is the best part of breadmaking. This bread is delicious. Now, I know, the recipe seems complicated, but after you do it once, it's simple. I can't wait to try it again. Too bad the butter and jam are so fattening.

Recipe: No-Knead Bread

Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery

Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt

1 1/2 cups water

scant 1 tablespoon white vinegar

Flour or cornmeal as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add water and vinegar, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18 hours, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself, kneading for 15 seconds.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a sheet of parchment or a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on parchment or towel. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.

5. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes (reduce oven temp to 425), then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.
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