Almost No-Knead Bread

My first post of the new year is for something I made before…sort of. I made a no-knead bread recipe from America’s Test Kitchen over four years ago, but I believe it was a different recipe. Certain parts seemed different. And, I noticeably lacked success the first time. The first time was affected by our chilly house. We used to keep the house less heated when it was just the two of us. Now, we keep the house more comfortable year-round. I believe the temperature affected the rise of the bread last time. Whatever the difference, it turned out perfectly the first time I did the recipe below and not perfect but still very good the second time. The un-cut pictures you see below are the first time making it. The sliced pictures are from the second time I made it.

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The reason?

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I actually made this bread for a friend as a thank-you. Our baby monitor burned out…literally it was working in the morning and then two hours later when it was nap time, nothing. It wouldn’t turn on. Anyway, while we dealt with the company hoping for a repair (didn’t happen), a close friend let us use her brand new one. It was so nice…but she had been working on her diet, and making her brownies/cake/cookies seemed less of a thank you than making something I know she loves but has said repeatedly that she can’t make: homemade bread. I don’t have the best track record with it either, so I kept my fingers crossed the whole time I made it, and the whole time I waited to see what she thought. Obviously I couldn’t cut into it to see how it was before giving it to her, so I had to hope for the best.

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Thankfully, her whole family loved it and they finished it within a few hours. I decided to try to make it for us since it was relatively easy and looked so nice.

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I didn’t use any fancy materials…I don’t even own a baking stone.

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Aaaaand, the verdict? It was good…but not our type of bread. We like softer breads with a crisp exterior. This had a crunchy crust, but everything was more chewy. I get it…that’s the bread us grown-ups are supposed to love. All artisan and such.

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And it was good…just not as much my cup of tea. I think I will still try it again sometime. If you notice, my loaf was a bit more squat than the gifted one. I’m not certain why, but I will be more careful the next time I shape the dough. Maybe I didn’t make it round enough?

Directions for Almost No-Knead Bread

Slightly adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Baking

  • 15 ounces flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
  • ¾ cup plus 2 Tablespoons water, room temperature
  • 6 Tablespoons beer (lager/ale/etc.), room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar

Whisk together the flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Pour in the water, beer, and vinegar, folding with a rubber spatula to combine. Once the ingredients are combined into a shaggy dough, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature between 8-18 hours.

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When ready, uncover the dough and knead just long enough to form a smooth dough. Pull the sides down underneath to form a ball. Spray a 12×12 inch (or so) piece of parchment paper with baking spray and place in a 9 or 10 inch skillet. Put the ball of dough on the parchment, then cover loosely with plastic wrap that is sprayed with baking spray. Let it rest and rise for 2 hours until doubled in size.

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Discard the plastic wrap and sprinkle some flour on top of the ball. Then, make a 6 inch long slit that is a ½ inch deep with a sharp, serrated knife on top of the ball.

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Take the parchment and place the dough in its parchment sling inside a Dutch oven that is at least 5 quarts. Put the Dutch oven lid on top, making sure the knob on yours is okay to go in an oven at 425 degrees, and allow any excess parchment to come out the sides. Place the Dutch oven in the oven (make sure your rack is low enough to allow space), then preheat the oven to 425 degrees with the pot inside. When it comes to temperature, set a timer for 30 minutes. At that time, remove the lid and continue baking until the inside reaches 210 degrees F (about 20-30 minutes longer).

Remove the bread from the Dutch oven, discarding the parchment and allowing it to cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours.

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Directions for Almost No-Knead Bread (without pictures)

Slightly adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Baking

  • 15 ounces flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
  • ¾ cup plus 2 Tablespoons water, room temperature
  • 6 Tablespoons beer (lager/ale/etc.), room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar

Whisk together the flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Pour in the water, beer, and vinegar, folding with a rubber spatula to combine. Once the ingredients are combined into a shaggy dough, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature between 8-18 hours.

When ready, uncover the dough and knead just long enough to form a smooth dough. Pull the sides down underneath to form a ball. Spray a 12×12 inch (or so) piece of parchment paper with baking spray and place in a 9 or 10 inch skillet. Put the ball of dough on the parchment, then cover loosely with plastic wrap that is sprayed with baking spray. Let it rest and rise for 2 hours until doubled in size.

Discard the plastic wrap and sprinkle some flour on top of the ball. Then, make a 6 inch long slit that is a ½ inch deep with a sharp, serrated knife on top of the ball. Take the parchment and place the dough in its parchment sling inside a Dutch oven that is at least 5 quarts. Put the Dutch oven lid on top, making sure the knob on yours is okay to go in an oven at 425 degrees, and allow any excess parchment to come out the sides. Place the Dutch oven in the oven (make sure your rack is low enough to allow space), then preheat the oven to 425 degrees with the pot inside. When it comes to temperature, set a timer for 30 minutes. At that time, remove the lid and continue baking until the inside reaches 210 degrees F (about 20-30 minutes longer).

Remove the bread from the Dutch oven, discarding the parchment and allowing it to cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours.

 

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