It’s only been a year and a half since the New York Times came out with Jim Lahey’s recipe for no-knead bread, and I guess I’m… ummmm… let’s see – yeah, absolutely bang on target for being possibly the last person on earth to hop on to the no-kneadwagon and join the teeming masses of all the other bakers and cookers and bloggers who have grown roots on that wagon from being there for so long.
I’m not going to bother with giving a recipe for no-knead bread on this post because there are hundreds out there - everybody and their pet dog has tried it and put up a post on their blog (or so it seemed when I went to look at reviews). Plus I’ve linked to the original recipe anyway.
About the recipe, all I will say is that I don’t do fractions (5/8th of a cup of water??? how much is that in normal person terms? Who on earth gives instructions in *irregular fractions anyway?), so I used 1-1/2 cups of water with 3 cups of flour to make the dough. It didn’t seem to affect the dough (not that I noticed) and I needed that amount anyway to get the flour to hold together.
The dough bubbled beautifully in its bowl, although when I turned it out on a floured surface, I had my doubts about whether it would pull together. But it did, beautifully. And then, after being shaped and placed on non-stick paper to rise for two hours, it rose beautifully.
I’m pretty certain that it would not have risen, though, were we not having very warm weather right now. I’m not a confident or enthusiastic baker of bread (due to past unsuccessful experiments where the yeast went on hartal and stubbornly refused to rise to anything, leave alone the occasion), so you can say this is pretty much the first time I’ve baked bread that was edible.
Actually it was MORE than edible, it was fantastic! The bread smelt incredibly good while baking, and the crust… oh the crust! It crackled while it cooled, just as all the recipes said, and it was crusty and gorgeously tasty. Pete was all ready to have a go at it the moment it came out of the oven, but I put up a barrier complete with yellow “Keep Out – this means YOU, Pete” tape all around it, so that it could sit undisturbed and cool for the requisite period of time. Which was meant to be an hour, really, but I could only manage 45 minutes before our self-control died an abrupt death.
Since Pete had been really very good about waiting for the bread despite being very hungry (he’d postponed his breakfast after smelling the bread baking, preferring to wait for fresh home-baked bread), I decided that it was only right that he do the honours and inaugurate my very first crusty loaf of beautifully rustic bread.
So now, ladies and gentlemen, for the first time since May 2005, I present to you all without further ado, the long-deferred debut of... Pete’s hands on Food, In The Main! And when I say that, I mean right after you read my disclaimer footnote!
* When I say “irregular fractions” I have no clue what it means in mathematical terms. Basically, to me, “regular” fractions are those that are etched on my measuring spoons and cups – 1/2, 3/4, 1/3, 1/4. Any weird fractions like 3/5, 5/8 and so on, that don’t show up on my measuring spoons and cups, are “irregular” as far as I’m concerned. Not only irregular, but downright weird. Any recipes that specify such abnormalities will have their instructions ignored. You have been told.
The ceremonial slicing of the loaf...
A no-hands view
And finally, the slathering of the butter...mmm mmm MMMM!