Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snowed In...Bread Anyone?

We're officially snowed in.  Our electricity is still running, but who knows how long that will last.  Already we've gotten over 20 inches in certain parts of the yard.  Other parts have barely a dusting.  We have the high winds to thank for that, and it's expected to get worse as the day progresses.  The old windows in our house rattle with every strong gust, but that's part of the charm of living in an old home (or at least that's one way to look at it). 

In any case, it's a good day to bake some bread.  Lately I've been pretty good about baking at least one or two loaves of this no knead bread every week.  I've had success making more complicated artisan breads (like the one featured in Tartine), but for the moment, this easy no knead bread seems to fit our busy lifestyle. 

A few years ago, I converted the New York Times recipe into weight measurements and tweaked it a bit.  (You can find my original post here.)  My version consists of a bit more water (sometimes I add even more than what's stated below) and some whole wheat flour.  I like breads made from sticky doughs.  More water means more hydration and the resulting bread is chewier and sponger in texture.  I find that well-hydrated doughs also result in breads that are much easier to digest. In my opinion, this bread is well worth the little effort involved.

Basic No Knead Bread Recipe (adapted from The New York Times recipe)

380g bread flour
50g whole wheat flour (or an additional 50g bread flour)
360g water at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast (I use SAF)
1 1/4 teaspoon of salt
olive oil

In a large bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients thoroughly with your hand, then add the water and continue mixing until a loose wet dough forms. Coat a second bowl with a bit of olive oil and transfer the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise slowly for at least 12 hours at room temperature. (The initial rest time is pretty forgiving so you can leave it for  a couple hours longer if need be.)

At this point, with your hand, do 4 or 5 folds with the dough still in the bowl to shape it a bit. Then turn it onto a lightly floured surface.  Flatten it just a bit and do a series folds (like you're folding an envelope) to tighten the dough's surface and form it into a ball. With the seam side down, cup the dough with both hands and lightly drag the ball towards you.  Do a quarter turn and drag it again.  With every turn and drag, the skin of the ball should tighten a bit.  Do this several times until a tight skin forms all around the ball.  (This part is important to ensure a nicely-risen loaf.)

Lay the ball seam-side up in a floured brotform, cover with a kitchen towel and allow it to rest for 2 hours. (Note: rice flour works great to prevent the dough from sticking to the brotform.)

When it's time to bake, preheat the oven and a cast iron combo cooker (or dutch oven) for 20 minutes at 450 degrees. Then carefully invert the dough onto the heated bottom pan (seam side down) and make a few slashes to the top. Cover the loaf with the top pan (or lid) and bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.  Then uncover and bake the loaf for an additional 10 - 15 minutes or until it's golden brown.


  1. That is a lovely loaf, I'll have to imagine its delicious aroma and flavor. Funny, I'm putting a loaf together today, a 100% Khorasan (Kamut) bread with a natural yeast starter. I have to practice the skills I hope I learned at a bread workshop recently.

    I hope you like the Sweetie Baby romaine as much as I like the Amish Paste tomatoes that you shared with me. Those tomatoes always remind me of you.

    Good luck getting through the storm and it's aftermath, it sounds like a nasty one.

  2. Hey stranger! Your bread looks wonderful...........as usual! This is the only bread that I make! Stay warm and safe with all that snow! We were supposed to get 1'.....but, it missed us. I have to admit that I was disappointed

    1. Hey Robin! So good to hear from you! You're lucky. We got about 2 feet. Took us a good three hours to snow blow the drive way. And we're still not done.

      We need to catch up soon! I'm dying to hear about what you've been up to. I feel like it's been forever since we've talked. OXOX

  3. That is one gorgeous loaf of bread. I love baking bread but have never heard of the method you described above - I am definitely going to give this bread a try.

    Seems like your power is still on, which is a good thing - hopefully it stays this way!