I’ve gotten tired of making bread in the bread-maker. Don’t get me wrong – hadn’t it been for this marvelous device, I wouldn’t have ever gone beyond salivating at the sights and smells of freshly baked bread. And I would probably have never ever tasted anything other than what’s available commercially. I still use the bread-maker sparingly – when I’ve got convenience and hands-off on my mind.Recently, I got myself a copy of the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and here’s one of my first experiments with no-knead bread. The base premise of the book is that pre-mixing dough that has a high moisture content and refrigerating it produces easy but delightful bread. Try it and you’ll really be surprised at how easy it is to make this loaf.
Ingredients: makes 2 large boules and this recipe can be halved or doubled
3 cups lukewarm water i always use a measuring cup
1 1/2 T* Instant yeast
1 1/2 T Coarse Salt
6 1/2 C’s* maida / APF measured with the scoop and sweep method essentially not packed tight
Mix the flour, salt and yeast together and transfer into a food grade plastic, lidded container (not airtight). Pour in the water and mix with a wooden spoon till all of the flour is wet and you don’t have any dry patches in the dough. This is a no-knead recipe, so kneading isn’t required. You should be done with this step in about 5 minutes and what you’ll end up with is a dough that’s wet, gloppy and conforms to the shape of the container. Cover the container and let it rise for about 2 hours. My dough had flattened at the top. The dough is now ready to use but I would strongly recommend that you refrigerate the dough overnight. This is what the dough looked like when I got it out of the fridge the next day.
When you’re ready to start, prepare the surface where you’ll be shaping the dough by flouring it well. I used a wet silicon spatula to divide the dough into 2 portions and used just one. The dough is of a very sticky consistency, so use the spatula to pry it off the edges of the container and drop it onto the floured surface. After quickly tossing the left over dough into the fridge, it’s time to shape the dough into a boule. With well floured hands, hold the dough in one hand and gently stretch the surface of the dough towards the bottom with the other. Now, rotate the dough by a quarter and stretch the surface towards the bottom again. Repeat this till the dough has a smooth taut surface. I keep flouring my hands to ensure that the dough doesn’t stick. This step shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes. Here’s a link to a video that you might find helpful.
Rest the shaped dough on a parchment lined baking sheet for 40 minutes. I always dust the parchment paper with semolina as it helps the bread come off easily after the baking process. Here’s what it looked like.
The authors of this recipe, don’t ask for the dough to be covered and I didn’t notice much of rise, but it rose beautifully in the oven. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 250C. I’ve been playing with steam while baking and I find it creates a beautiful crust. For this, I keep a baking / broiling tray in the lowest rack while I pre-heat the oven. As soon as I start the baking process, I empty a cup of hot water onto the hot baking tray and shut the oven door. This creates steam that transfers heat into the dough quicker than dry oven air and keeps the surface of the dough moist and elastic – allowing the dough to stretch and expand.
Dust the top of the dough liberally with flour and score the surface. Here is a video that you might find helpful. Place the parchment lined, scored dough in the middle rack. Pour the hot water onto the hot baking tray at the bottom and shut the oven door. Turn down the temperature to 230C and bake about 30 minutes or till the crust has browned beautifully and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. After the first 15 minutes of baking, I pull the water tray out quickly, so that the bottom of the loaf gets done evenly.
Here’s what my boule looked like when I pulled it out of the oven
And here’s a closer look. Turned out really really well for such a simple recipe.
Cool and eat soon. You’ll find a delightful crust and a moist crumb. Let me know how your boule emerged from the oven?