Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Perfect Loaf

{Everybody's Favorite No-Knead Bread}



One staple we really hankered for in India was a good crusty loaf of bread. India has a rich tradition of unleavened flatbreads  -flaky, heavenly parottas in south India and fried whole-wheat paranthas in the north, and of course there's the slightly leavened naan- but unless you're in a major metropolitan area it's virtually impossible to find a nice crusty boule. So one of the first thing I did when we got back to the States was make the beloved recipe for no-knead bread made famous by Mark Bittman in the New York Times back in 2006, adapted from sculptor-turned-bread guru Mike Leahy at Sullivan Street Bakery. Many of you have made this bread; this recipe has been around the block on the blogs for years, but if you are of the priveledged few who have yet to try it, I have three words for you: MAKE THIS BREAD. Even if you've never baked a thing in your life. No, *especially* if you've never baked a thing in your life.



It takes five minutes to make the dough, a day to forget about it (the longer you neglect it the better), and less than an hour to bake the next day. I am but a child in the ways of breadmaking, and yet this was -entirely because of the simplicity of the recipe and nothing to do with any human skill whatsoever- one of the most outstanding soft-and-holey-in-the-middle-but-marvelously-crusty-on-the-outside loaves I've ever had. It's no fuss, all flavor and texture, and totally out of this world.
I can't recommend it enough.





Perfect Rustic No-Knead Bread
Originally printed in the New York Times; adapted from Jim Lahey at Sullivan Street Bakery
Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising


Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

Directions:
1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, 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 (mine rose for nearly a full day), 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 once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

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 cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel 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; you can use tinfoil if you don't have a lid) 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. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. (A trick I learned from my father-in-law: tap with two fingers; a "hollow" sound means it's done.) Cool on a rack. YUM.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

26 comments:

  1. That is indeed perfect! Thank you for sharing the recipe!

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  2. I love this bread...which reminds me, I need to make some. xoxo

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  3. the second i'm done with finals, this is happening.

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  4. If that loaf is truly gorgeous!! I will be sending you my three favorite recipes tonight!!!!! Hugs Lily!! So happy you are home, well, on the farm. XO!

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  5. yum! yum! yum!

    welcome back, lily. i can't believe your life in india went by so quickly.

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  6. You're back in the states one week and you're already ruining my carb intake ;)

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  7. I've never baked bread. With this recipe, I can now consider myself privileged.

    If it can change my curmudgeonly husband's view that life is too short to bake bread, I'll know it's *good*.

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  8. We're completely devoted to that recipe. We have the same Le Crueset pot- it's even blue. I love how it makes the inside of the pot stained brown when you make no knead bread in it. We also have a heart shaped one and it makes heart shaped loaves (loves) which I highly recommend.

    Has culture shock set in yet? I just checked into your blog today and realized that you're back in the good ole' U.S. of A. Excited to read about your upcoming adventures. :)

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  9. I love that little corgi face waiting for that piece to drop. I'm on a crazy cleanse for my allergies & I can't eat ANY grains. You're killing me. Softly.

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  10. Show opens at Metro Friday night; I have a calendar opening Saturday morning so why not bake bread! You made it sound so easy and now my kitchen is free of cadmium (except for the grout but we won't go there). I love your blog! Wish you were going to be here tomorrow night. xo

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  11. The minute I saw the Dutch oven I knew exactly what recipe you were using. This is my favorite bread to take to pot luck gatherings with friends. Yummy!

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  12. darn it. this looks SO good. if only i had an oven here in delhi :$

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  13. measuring flour now...tomorrow can't get here soon enough!

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  14. we both posted about bread this week! i forget if i said already, but welcome back :-)

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  15. this looks amazing. I love your blog - its absolutely beautiful

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  16. It is the best bread. Verily.

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  17. yuuum what a delish, i have to try this!

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  18. just moved to india yesterday and will be trying this recipe for sure.

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  19. It looks delicious. Thank you for the recipe. Enjoyed the pictures.

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  20. okay, bread making and i are not friends. i've made the best biscuits ever (it's true) but I always have an epic fail at bread making. i had decided to give up, but now you tempt me with this. i'm going to give it another shot, it looks soooooo good.

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  21. can't wait to try this recipe! i read about a book on making bread like this called, "artisan bread in five minutes a day," recommended by a favorite blogger pal at http://www.wabi-sabihomeandgarden.com. i bought for my daughter. still waiting for the smell of baking bread to waft through the house, though...

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  22. this bread will be my new best friend. thanks for sharing!

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  23. will try this. i've failed at all other attempts of bread making. sad, i know.

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  24. I'm making some of your recipes this weekend. Also, that photo of the bread with your dog in the background is priceless. Missing you!

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  25. Lily, I am making this recipe while watching the election results trickle in. Miss you, chica - please come visit in LA!

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