Almost No-Knead Bread
Recipe By: Lyn Belisle
Published in: Cook's Illustrated
3 cup (15 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour -- plus additional for
dusting work surface
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (7 ounces) -- at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (3 ounces) mild-flavored lager
1 tablespoon white vinegar
I use ounces for my measure not cups.
Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar.
Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of
bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at
room temperature for 8 to 18 hours. Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment
paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cook ing spray.
Transfer dough to lightly floured, work surface and knead 10 to 15 times.
Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough,
seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with
nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at
room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily
spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours. About 30 minutes before
baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy
bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees.
Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one
6-inch long, l/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot
from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and
lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot
and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered
for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown
and instant-read thermometer inserted into center regis ters 210 degrees,
20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire
rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.
ALMOST NO-KNEAD BREAD WITH OLIVES, ROSEMARY, AND PARMESAN
Follow recipe for Almost No-Knead Bread, adding 4 ounces finely grated
Parmesan (about 2 cups) and 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
to flour mixture in step 1. Add l/2 cup pitted, chopped green olives
with water in step 1.
ALMOST NO-KNEAD WHOLE WHEAT BREAD
Follow recipe for Almost N 0- Knead Bread, replacing 1 cup (5 ounces)
all-purpose flour wim 1 cup (5 ounces) whole wheat flour. Stir 2
tablespoons honey into water before adding it to dry ingredients in
ALMOST NO-KNEAD CRANBERRY-PECAN BREAD
Follow recipe for Almost No-Knead Bread, adding l/2 cup dried
cranberries and 1/2 cup toasted pecan halves to flour mixture in step 1.
1/2 tsp yeast, 1 cup rye flour, 2 cups white, 1 Tbsp caraway, 1 Tbsp
fennel seed, 1 cup warm water, 6 Tbsp beer, 1 Tbsp vinegar. Follow
instructions for white bread. Maggie aka Conan the Librarian
(Note from Cooks Illustrated) Transferring dough to a preheated Dutch
oven to bake can be tricky. To avoid burnt fingers and help the dough
hold its shape, we came up with a novel solution: Let the dough rise
in a skillet (its shallow depth makes it better than a bowl) that's
been lined with greased parchment paper, then use the paper's edges to
pick up the dough and lower it into the Dutch oven. The bread remains
on the parchment paper as it bakes.
An enameled cast-iron Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid yields best
results, but the recipe also works in a regular cast-iron Dutch oven
or heavy stockpot. I used a heavy Le Creuset Dutch oven.
Use a mild-flavored lager, such as Budweiser (I used Shiner Bock). The
bread is best eaten me day it is baked but can be wrapped in aluminum
foil and stored in a cool, dry place for up to 2 days.
This is a loaf of bread that both looks and tastes incredible.
Many bread recipes call for a rest period after adding water to the
flour but before kneading. This rest is called "autolysis" (although
most bakers use the French term autolyse). The most common explanation
for the autolysis process is simply that it allows time for the flour
to hydrate and rest, making the dough easier to manipulate later on.
But the word "autolysis" technically refers to the destruction of
cells or proteins through enzymatic action. We took a closer look at
what really happens to the dough during the process.
The ultimate goal of making bread dough is to create gluten, a strong
network of cross-linked proteins that traps air bubbles and stretches
as the dough bakes, creating the bubbly, chewy crumb structure that is
the signature of any good loaf. In order to form these cross links,
the proteins in the flour need to be aligned next to each other.
Imagine the proteins as bundled-up balls of yarn you are trying to tie
together into one longer piece, which you'll then sew together into a
wider sheet. In their balled-up state, it's not possible to tie them
together; first you have to untangle and straighten them out. This
straightening out and aligning is usually accomplished by kneading.
But untangling and stretching out short pieces of yarn is much easier
than untangling entire balls. This is where autolysis comes in. As the
dough autolyzes, enzymes naturally present in wheat act like scissors,
cutting the balled-up proteins into smaller segments that are easier
to straighten during kneading. This is why dough that has undergone
autolysis requires much less kneading than freshly made dough. And
here's where the hydration level comes in: The more water there is,
the more efficiently the cut-and-link process takes place.
So this was the explanation for how a no-knead bread recipe such as
that published in the New York Times worked. With 85 percent hydration
and a 12-hour rest, the dough was so wet and had autolyzed for so long
that the enzymes had broken the proteins down into extremely small
pieces. These pieces were so small that, even without kneading, they
could stretch out and cross-link during fermentation and the brief
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