Tuesday, March 02, 2010

No Knead Bread - Everybody's Doing It

I think I have OCBD. Obsessive Compulsive Bread Disorder. Maybe that's what happens when you've been on a low carb diet for nine months. The other day when I saw that recipe for Cuban bread, I couldn't resist and wound up making three loaves. Now I'm obsessed with this No-Knead Bread. I know lots of foodie blogs have made this recipe from the New York times, and as I was kneading and kneading the Cuban bread, I started thinking about the no-knead recipe.

Before I could even Google it, a chef friend of mine in Portland (Brendan) sent me his version of the recipe. I'm going to copy and paste it word for word because he has some good ideas about the flours and how to make the recipe work.

The only real difference between Brendan's recipe and the NY Times recipe is that second rise. Now that I've made this loaf several times, I don't think it makes a huge difference, but without the rise the loaf is a little more dense, and with the rise you get bigger holes. The crust is A-MA-ZING either way.

For my first loaf I used 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup bread flour, 1/2 cup Ground Flax Seed Meal and 1/2 cup Almond Meal. I would recommend a teeny bit less water for this combination. My second loaf was 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 bread flour. My next loaf (on the counter as I type this is all regular flour with about a teaspoon or two of dried garlic and dried oregano. I want my next loaf to be all grainy with seeds and nuts, but I'm going to have to wait a little while longer while I'm trying to stick to my low-carb diet.

So, why am I making all of this bread when I'm on a low-carb diet? I have no idea. I think it has something to do with the fact that I have gotten bored with indoor, winter, low-carb, meat and vegetable cooking, that I need a creative outlet. I've given away a couple of loaves to friends and neighbors and my kids have eaten a good portion of it. Of course I've tasted along the way, but I'm trying to keep it to a minimum. No weight gained so far, just slow losing. Still hanging out around 33-34 pounds.

(1/2 whole wheat flour, 1/2 white flour)


TOOLS: bowl, large (like 3-4 qts min.)
Spoon, large & strong (I like wood for bread rather than metal)
Plastic Wrap
Measuring cup
Measuring spoons
Oven safe baking vessel w/ good fitting lid- like a 2-3 quart Corningware or enamel coated cast iron w/ lid, or a SMALL Dutch oven. Do NOT try w/ foil as lid- will not work- needs a proper lid

.25 tsp Yeast, active dry (sounds like not enough, but trust me- it’s plenty)
1.25 tsp Salt (I prefer Kosher salt)
3 cups Flour**** see notes below- esp for Health
1 5/8 cups Water (sometimes a little more [not critical to be exact as more is OK]- see flour notes)
.5 tsp **cornmeal OR rolled oats OR dry cous cous OR wheat bran…(see note in 3rd paragraph of METHOD section)

Combine salt, flour(s), yeast in bowl & stir well. Add water all at once (but somewhat slowly). Stir to combine & wet all flour- usually about 15-20 stir/folds will do. Cover w/ plastic wrap and place on a counter for 12-18 hours. (18 only in winter, really). Should be about double original size.

Preheat to 425-450*F. Place baking vessel (without lid, for now) in oven to get intensely hot- like at least 10-15 minutes at temperature.

Remove vessel from oven. Sprinkle **cornmeal (or other choice from above) around bottom of pan (simply acting as a dessicant to make removal from pan that much easier later on). NOW, working rather quickly so pan doesn’t cool down too much, pour/scrape your dough into the vessel using wooden spoon to help get it out of bowl. If dough does not spread easily, gently shake baking vessel a little bit to disperse. Place vessel back into oven & cover w/ room temperature lid. Close oven & bake for 25 minutes (same temp). After 25 minutes, open oven and remove lid & bake about 25 minutes more. Remove pan from oven and tip loaf out (should come easily). IMPORTANT- place the loaf (using towel as it is HOT) on a cooling rack for at least 90 minutes. If you are w/out a cooling rack, improvise something to aerate the loaf. Store in same container you baked it in after cooling (b/c it fits there!) for up to 4 days before it starts to go stale. Freezes well too.

You do not need bread flour- All purpose works fine (bread flour works also though)
Personally, for health & flavor reasons, I like to mix in different flours.
My standard is 1 cup All Purpose, 1 cup whole wheat flour, ½ cup rye flour, and a ½ cup wheat bran (the actual bran of the wheat kernel- not a cereal- look in bulk section of good grocer for it) As long as it adds up to about 3 cups total, you can’t go wrong.
I also add to this healthy version 2 TBS Sunflower seeds and 1 TBS flax seed in the initial mixing- raise up that good cholesterol and add fiber….
--Courtesy of Chef Brendan from the Bronx in Portland :)

(whole wheat flour, white flour, flax seed, almond meal)


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