Fresh From The Oven: No-Knead Bread

This month’s Fresh From The Oven challenge was No-Knead Bread and it was set by Claire from Things We Make.  I was very nervous about this challenge as I have never actually made a proper loaf of bread before (shameful I know) and I was also concerned about damaging my Le Creuset pot, which I love. This is because the loaf is cooked in a double oven style in the pot and the problem is cast iron pots are not supposed to be used dry – they need some sort of liquid in them to work effectively and stop them being damaged. Having already lost one Le Creuset pot when I dropped it on my kitchen floor and it cracked, I did not want to lose another one.

However, I need not have worried. The pot is fine and the bread turned out quite well. It felt like I was looking after a child when I left the bread doing the 16 hour slosh, I was constantly checking it and making sure it was OK in its bin bag bed. I left it for about 24 hours in total and then put it in the oven. I think I took the well oiled pot bit to heart as when my bread came out and had cooled down; it was a bit greasy on the bottom of the loaf. The texture was lovely – crisp and crusty on the outside and light and airy in the middle. Overall, I think the bread worked quite well, however I think I will get a smaller cheaper cast iron pot to make it next time, as mine at 24cm is too large for the bread as it did not rise very much or get much colour on top.

Thanks to Claire for doing this month’s challenge. It’s my turn next and you will just have to wait and see what my challenge for everyone this month is!

No Knead Bread

The Mix

  • 15oz Strong White bread flour – it works best with all white I think
  • ¼ tsp instant easibake yeast (out of a sachet)
  • 1 tsp table salt
  1. Stir together well then add 10.5 fl oz of lukewarm water (a mugful)
  2. Slosh it round into a gooey lump of dough with a fork
  3. Leave in a big bowl and cover with cling film or put the bowl in a bin bag
  4. Leave it in kitchen for 16-18 hours – or more if you forget.

The 16hr Sloosh

  1. Use a dough scraper/cutter or your fingers, to scrape the wet porridgy dough away from the sides, using plenty of flour to stop it sticking, and shuffle it back into a nice round shape. Don’t be tempted to knead it.
  2. Cover with a tea towel and leave for 2 more hours.

The Bake

  1. Preheat oven to 200-220 and put in a lightly oiled Le Creuset or other large cast iron casserole with a lid on until the oven and the pan are super hot.
  2. Again use the scraper and a good sprinkle of flour to detach the dough from the bowl without puncturing it’s airy goodness. Then quick as you can, without losing the heat from the oven and pan, tip the dough onto one hand then flop it into the hot pan the right way up again and put the lid back on and get it back in the oven immediately.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes lid-on
  4. Then cook for 10-12 minutes more, lid-off until golden brown
  5. If it’s not hollow sounding on the bottom put it back in, without its tin for an extra 5 minutes. Tip out and cool well before trying to slice

Tips

  • I find this works best for me if I make the dough around the school run (3.30pm) then do the first dough slooshing when I get up, then bake it mid morning. As you can see, the times can be very approximate! Another option might be to mix the dough on a Friday when you get in from work, sloosh it mid morning on Saturday and bake it at lunch time ready for Saturday evening. It seems like a long process but it really is no effort when you get your head round it. (I  started mine in the morning and left it overnight and baked it the next morning as I had things to do)
  • If you haven’t got one yet it’s worth getting a dough cutter/scraper to save on sticky fingers. My plastic one was only 90p from a local cook shop. (I have now brought a dough scraper from Bakery Bits.)
  • My new Le Creuset (25cm) is a little bit too big for this recipe so I sit my lightly oiled 20cm mermaid pie tin in the bottom to help shape the loaf to be a bit taller and rounder. I also sometimes scatter a bit of semolina in the base for an extra crunchy bottom. You can use oil instead of flour to de-stick the dough from the mixing bowl, but it makes for a wetter and slighty denser outcome like the one shown at the end of this post. It is one of those loaves that comes out a little bit different every time anyway due to the extended prove.
  • If you fancy turning it into something a bit different to the normal loaf you can make the dough into ‘Fougasse‘ that’s at the bottom of this blog post: http://thingswemake.wordpress.com/2009/06/03/make-it-crusty/or I sometimes split it and make 2 fougasse and a 1Ib tin loaf baked with the loaf tin placed inside the cast iron pot.
  • There is a video of this recipe (but they accidentally forget to mention the extra 2 hours proving) on the NYT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&hl=en-GB&v=13Ah9ES2yTU

Happy Cooking! :-)

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10 Responses to Fresh From The Oven: No-Knead Bread

  1. My pot was 24cm and I didn’t have any problems with the rise or the colour. Perhaps your oven needed to be a little hotter? You have some lovely big ‘ciabatta’ style holes in yours, definitely a good recipe and worth another go.

  2. how interesting
    check out my baking blog and tell me what you think:
    http://thegodscake.wordpress.com

    Michael

  3. I love the ciabatta style holes in this bread. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with tomorrow.

  4. I was following Lahey’s recipe in his book and there was no mention of greasing the pot. I was using a stainless steel pot and it was fine without greasing. The bread didn’t stick in the least.

    I also found that leaving the bread to rise longer (almost 24 hours once) was fine. It’s a very forgiving recipe!

  5. Hi Jo. I only added to oil the pan slightly as if you use a pan straight from the dishwasher (horrors!) it can stick. I tend to just wipe mine out between bakes, then you don’t need to oil it at all. Glad you took part. The texture of your loaf inside looks fab and ciabatta-y!

    • Thanks for your suggestion Claire. The recipe was fab and I intend to make it again. The texture of the loaf was amazing.

  6. I used a 24cm pot – I think it rose ok. Like you though I was worried up my pot, I think i’ll get a cheap casserole or something to make it in from now on, it took two days to try and clean the pot again!

    • Mine was that bad. I cooked with it again straight away. Think I am going to get a cheaper pot to make it again. I love my Le Creuset pot too much

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