Let's face it, we are carb addicts in my family. Add to that my love of baking and the good word of bloggers all over about a bread making method that takes very little hands on time or effort, and I have a new obsession. I am referring to the simple 'no knead' bread making method published by food editor Mark Bittman in the New York Times on Nov. 8, 2006. It produces a 1 1/2 pound loaf of Artisan type bread that sells in bakeries for $4 US and up. There are blogs and videos all over the internet regarding this bread. I figure if they can do it, so can I. I have seriously wanted to try this bread for quite some time, but was not sure I had the proper baking equipment. It requires a heavy enclosed pot of cast iron, ceramic, or Pyrex that can withstand 500 degree oven temperatures to steam the loaf for a portion of the baking time. The piece of equipment on my current wishlist is an expensive Le Creuset cast iron French oven. Because of the hefty price tag on the Le Creuset cookware I have fallen in love with, purchasing one takes planning and I need to wait a little longer for that one. However, I discovered that I did own something that would work, and it is also something I rarely use. Enter my over 15 year old (man that is hard to admit.....when did my first cookware purchases age that much?!!!!) Corningware French White 4L casserole with a domed lid.
First I mixed the dough. It literally took me less than three minutes.
3 cups flour
1/4 tsp instant yeast
2 tsp salt
a little over 1 1/2 cups water
Mix the dry ingredients first and then add the water. Once all of the dry ingredients are incorporated, cover the bowl and allow it to proof (a fancy term for sit) in around 70 degree temp for 18-24 hours. I just mixed it up the day before I needed the bread and let it sit overnight. I initially had my doubts, but by the next day, it looked like the dough in all the videos.
Heavily flour an area to roll it out. Scrape the dough out onto the floured surface and flour the top of the dough. I stretched out the dough one way and folded it in thirds and then did the same thing in the other direction. I put a thin layer of white cormeal on wax paper and put the dough seam side down, and then topped with more cornmeal. I covered the dough sitting on the wax paper with a flour sack towel and let it rise for about an hour and a half. This small bit of handling sounds complicated, but it all took about another three minutes. Most of the problems bakers encountered here had to do with the dough being sticky. Just make sure to use enough flour on your hands and surfaces.
An hour into the rising, I put the casserole lined with parchment paper in the oven to preheat at 450. Then, at the end of the rise time, I flipped the dough over from the wax paper into the casserole and baked it with the lid on for 30 minutes, and with the lid off for another 15 minutes. I immediately turned it out into a cutting board. I let it cool for about an hour before cutting.
All in all, it is a great crusty bread with little effort. I am sure I spent less than 10 minutes total on it and used ingredients that cost less than a dollar. My second attempt will be Parmesan Bread! If you are interested in trying it yourself, I highly recommend doing a search for videos.