The Joys of Fresh-Baked Bread
Really, is there anything better than fresh-baked bread, warm from the oven? Like this:
As a kid, I wanted my mom to make bread...Every...Single...Day. But bread, with all the mixing, kneading, rising, proofing, and baking is the sort of all-day commitment Mom (like most of us) just didn't have.
But what if you could eliminate nearly all that time and most of the effort? Then, you're baking No-Knead Bread.
How Does It Work?
Making a no-knead bread doesn't just eliminate the kneading portion (which is honestly pretty easy in a world filled with standing mixers), but it does simplify the kneading and rising process. And, if you're wondering, it's not quicker—just so much easier you don't mind waiting.
Mix, Sit, Wait.
That's pretty much all that's required before you start the oven.
You mix the ingredients like this:
It starts off as a sticky, liquidy dough. Then you let it sit in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 24 hours. Basically, you're letting the yeast, in conjunction with the the flour, do the kneading for you. The scientific term is autolysis. But the important term is yummy.
A day later, you've got this:
All you have to do, a day after mixing the ingredients together, is shape the dough and give it one single rise before baking.
Then after all that time (but little effort) you get this:
Our recipe calls for baking in a cast-iron Dutch oven or heavy casserole with a lid. Why? Because the intense heat gives the bread a little more lift, turning what could be a heavy, chewy bread into something that's just plain amazing.
Why So Much Salt?
Compared to other bread recipes, you'll notice there's a lot of salt. There are two really good reasons why you need it:
- Flavor. You really can't underestimate how much salt improves the taste, and no-knead bread could often use the flavor boost
- Chemistry. In case you wondered why the dough doesn't over-rise as it sits on the counter, salt is the answer. Salt basically slows down the entire process, so you're not stuck cleaning over-flowing dough off your counters.
This is the perfect bread for experimentation. Top it with olives, roasted garlic, or anything you're craving. Just mix it up tonight and bake it tomorrow. No-kneading, no problem.