Sunday, January 18, 2009
No-Knead Dutch Oven Bread
My friend Jane and I are constantly swapping recipes back and forth. She lives in Illinois where she works as a legal transcriptionist (fastest typist I know). She and I decided to give the New York Times No-Knead bread recipe a try using our Dutch ovens. She went first, starting her bread on Friday. She reported excellent results last night and said she loved the flavor of the bread as well as the crunchy crust. She's going to experiment with the recipe and try adding some dill seed as well as making some onion bread with it.
I got my dough ready and put it in the oven at 10 p.m. last night. It proofed for 14 hours before I got to stage two. I floured the heck out of a flour sack cloth towel, put the dough ball in and, following the instructions, let it rise another 2 hours. It baked for half an hour at 450° with me removing the lid halfway. This was a dangerous endeavor since I had to remove the rubberized handle from my lid before I put it in the oven since it can't handle temperatures over 375°!
I was amazed that the bread released right out of the Dutch oven
at the end of the baking time. It's very shiny and reminds me of French bread. The recipe is very similar, in fact, containing no sugar or oil. It's not a pretty loaf, with lumps and bumps all over it. There are obviously large bubbles on the surface, which is typical for a dough recipe like this one.
Would I do it again? I dunno. The dough stuck mightily to my kitchen towel even though I floured it generously. Taking the handle off the lid meant I had to wrestle with an extremely heavy, hot, handle-less cast iron lid--not for the weak or timid by any means. I have yet to taste this bread but we will give it a thorough taste test tonight at dinner.
The round shape of the loaf is charming and reminds me of the artisan bread that's all the rage these days. So if you like pompous bread, this is the loaf for you! As they say, the proof is in the pudding, so after tonight's taste test I may or may not bake this recipe again. You definitely have to plan for it because it has to rise for a mininum of 12 hours, with 18 hours being recommended. However, if you're stingy with your yeast you'll be happy to know that it takes only 1/4 teaspoon of active dry yeast.
***After Dinner Update***
The bread was delicious! Nice and chewy but not jaw-breaking. The crust doesn't try to tear your gums off and the flavor is very much like French bread. I made garlic bread with it and it was terrific! There were big bubbles in it that held the garlicky butter like little wells.
That said, this bread is a rough one to make. I think I'll stick with my tried and true method of letting the bread maker or stand mixer make the dough and baking the bread in bread pans instead of a 10 pound cast iron Dutch oven! Although, it is very comforting to know that if push comes to shove I can bake some bread in it.