Thursday, 8 April 2010

Kneading is so yesterday

I know, I know, no knead bread, the brain child of Jim Lahey, has been kicking around the interwebs for years now. Forgive me for being so late onto the bandwagon. I can't remember where I first saw it mentioned. I thought it sounded really interesting, and then promptly forgot about it. Then I saw it somewhere else, and my ears pricked up, I remembered the first mention, read a bit more. And then promptly forgot about it.

You see, I already have a bunch of really good bread recipes, and I know that once I start getting more and more into bread making, I will get buried in the subject, never to return. I used to think this might be a bad thing, but given just how much I LOVE bread (I definitely think it's a genetic thing, my father is the same, it's more of a compulsion for bread than a love), I am beginning to realise that actually this could be the best thing ever. I keep wanting to try my hand at sourdough, but have always been too scared in case I kill off my starter, or come home to a kitchen that has been taken over by a huge bubbling mass that looks like something from a The Blob.

So I swing from "let's start a starter this weekend" to steadfastly ignoring the numerous books I have on the subject. Then I saw this. Seriously, how good does that loaf look?! It was at that point, quite literally about four and a half minutes later, that I began my love affair with the no knead bread.

I am now fully on the wagon. So far on the wagon in fact that I have made this bread five times in the last week and a bit. Call me crazy, call me obsessed, and I will say, yes! Because it's just so darn good! I should also point out that I have no only made this loaf five times, but I have adapted it each and every one of those times. First off I didn't have any walnuts, so I decided to draw on a loaf I'd had in Italy once and add some ground fennel seeds. Delish! Then I made cranberry and pecan, with a little bit of wholemeal flour, then fennel and black pepper...the list goes on.

This loaf is easy, amazingly tasty and can be adapted to pretty much whatever you have in the house as far as I can tell. This is my new go-to loaf, I shall be forever thanking Tracy for opening my eyes to the truth and starting a whole new bread adventure in Our Lovely Flat.

No Knead Bread - My favourite way (so far) 

3 cups bread flour (I sometimes use 1 cup of wholemeal in the mix)
1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 3/4 tsp salt (I never measure this, I'm lazy, I just throw in a large pinch)
1/2 cup raisins
2 tsp fennel seeds, slightly bashed in a pestle and mortar
1 1/2 cups water. 

The night before mix all the ingredients together in a medium to large bowl, it should form a dough, but be a sticky one. Leave, covered with a tea towel until the next morning (aprox. 12-18 hrs). 

Flour your work surface. Turn the dough out in one piece and gently form into a ball, tucking the corners in underneath it to form a nice tight shape. Liberally flour a tea towel and place the dough in the centre, and wrap the edges around it. (I usually place the towel and dough back in the bowl to help hold the shape as you can see in the pictures!) Leave for another hour or so, until doubled in size. 

Half an hour into the second rise preheat your oven to 240C and place your casserole or dutch oven inside for half an hour, with the lid on. Then once the bread is ready, gently turn it from the tea towel, into the hot pan, and return, covered, to the hot oven. Bake for 30 mins, and then remove the lid and bake until the shade of golden brown that suits you most! Remove the pan from the over, and gently tip out the loaf and allow to cool before cutting and eating.


Rosy said...

YUM!!!!! I love the sound of the fennel/raisin combo. So much so I've added it to my 'to bake' list for tonight!!

After talking about this with you the other week I also finally managed to make the no-knead bread and whilst it was good, it did need some tweaking - mine was a bit of a sloppy mess right up until it was baked! Sounds/looks like yours is slightly less wet?? xx

jane said...

Oh this sounds brilliant, I really want to try it. I've been meaning to give the recipe a go for absolutely ages and still have not got around to it but I'm feeling very keen to do so now. Yum. Fennel and black pepper bread sounds delicious; cranberry and pecan too. I used to be so good about making bread and I've really got out of the habit of it lately - to be rectified soon!
Just happened upon your blog and very glad I did!