Saturday, August 9, 2008

Almost No-Knead Bread

I've been baking quite of bit of bread lately, and this is one of the loaves we've really enjoyed.

It's so easy, it really does deserve the name "Almost No-Knead Bread" and, as usual, I've altered the recipe just a bit for our personal family taste, and I simplified the method just a bit, too.

The original came from Cooks Illustrated, and I think that recipe was a take-off on another that I read online on the New York Times website some time ago.

While the original recipe calls for just all-purpose white flour, I've been using 1 cup whole wheat flour and 2 cups of bread flour, for a more whole-grainy taste and a chewier crumb. And then I've found that with the time that I allow for raising the bread, I don't need to use the rapid-rise yeast that the original recipe requires. I use ordinary regular-rise yeast with great results. (Note: You don't have to use nearly as much yeast as most bread recipes require because of the long time that you give for the initial rise.)


2 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp. yeast
1-1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. water (room temperature)
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. mild-flavored lager
1 Tbsp. white vinegar

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the wet ingredients and stir until a shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for around 18 hours. (Note: I don't worry about being specific with this time. I just mix it up after work one night and bake it sometime the next day.)

Spray a sheet of parchment paper with nonstick cooking spray and lay it into a covered 2-quart Pyrex casserole dish. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and let sit for another 2 hours until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees, and then turn it down to 425 when you open the oven door to put your Pyrex dish inside. Be sure to remove the plastic wrap and then place the casserole dish cover on top of the dish, forming a little steam oven for your bread as it bakes. After 30 minutes, remove the Pyrex lid and let the bread back for another 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reads 210 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove the finished loaf from the dish by carefully picking up the parchment paper under it, and let the loaf cool on a wire rack. Cool a bit before you cut into it for the nicest looking slices. Your bread should be deep golden brown with a really nice crusty crust and a chewy interior.

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