Homemade Bread and I Need Hands On Help!

Hi everyone. I cannot stop thinking about this phenomenal bread I ate last night at a “Men are Cooking” event at my son’s preschool. The Dad who made it, Josh, had previously given me the recipe, as well as my friend Lesley and my brother , Andrew, but mine never came out like this! His was so hearty, crusty on the outside, soft on the inside.

It just goes to show that we may need practice or someone to show us, hands on, how to make something if ours is not coming out right or the way we like it. This is the reason why I have asked him to walk me through it next week. If all these folks can do it, so can I! Cooking or baking well does not have to be something that “someone else does”. We can all learn and you better believe I am going to learn how to make that darn bread properly!

This recipe was in the NY Times and it spread like wildfire. When it came out, everyone I know was talking about it (come to think of it, my friend Jeff also kept making it AND my friend Max served it to us at a dinner party). I hope you can master it too and if you can’t, contact me in a week or so and I will walk you through it since I will be an expert by then!
P.S. I have made this numerous times with my daughter as a night time activity instead of T.V. She is very proud to say she made it. Also, you can make it healthier substituting Whole Wheat flour. I have not done it yet, but Josh suggested making little rolls or breadsticks with the kids as well.

No-Knead Bread
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
Time: About 1 1/2 hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting (can substitute a cup or so of Whole wheat flour)
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed. (and you can add sesame seeds which is great!)

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will
be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about
18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough
on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic
wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and
quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran
or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover
with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than
double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered
pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot
from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a
mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as
it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until
loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Yield: One 1 1/2-pound loaf.


2 Responses

  1. OK I admit it. I am a control freak and perfectionist in the kitchen. I can’t stand letting my kids help me cook. I am afraid they will make a big mess, ruin the recipe, etc. I am impatient with their lack of technique and skill. Is watching me enough or do I have to let them do it too? I really want them to learn how to cook and feel comfortable in the kitchen. Any suggestions?

  2. Hi Alma. I love Cook’s Illustrated Magazine and get it every month. Last month’s issue (February – page 18)had an entire article about the No-Knead Bread recipe that appeared in the NY Times back in 2006. They have some great tips and advice for getting this bread to turn out perfect because many people had problems (like you did). They take you thorugh step-by-step and make changes to the original recipe to ensure it comes out perfect. If you can’t get your hands on the magazine, I can make a copy of it and send to you. Good luck!

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