Recipe: (Almost) No-Knead Bread

Jeff over at PermaSmirk sang the praises of no-knead bread ever since Mark Bittman talked about it in the New York Times last November. I made a loaf of it– it looked good, it smelled good, but it tasted sort of flat. I searched around and found that Cook’s Illustrated came up with (of course) the Best No-Knead Bread. Problem? You do actually have to knead it. I can live with that.

My modifications: I don’t use a dutch oven; instead, I use a huge ceramic pot with a tight-fitting lid that used to be my grandmother’s. I use rice wine vinegar instead of regular white vinegar, as I seem to not have any white vinegar in the house (the shame!). And I use whatever beer Terry is drinking at the time (he drinks more beer than I do; I drink more wine than he does); this time happened to be Miller Lite.

These modifications make a bread that is flavorful and far superior to the bread recipe of Bittman’s. The parchment is perfect for transferring the dough to the pan. It’s great to be able to decide I want bread and not have to do much to it– just let it do its thing on my stove while I sleep or work or whatever, and have bread the next day. Delish!

No-Knead Bread Dough

No-Knead Bread

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces), plus additional for dusting work surface
1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
11/2 teaspoons table salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (7 ounces), at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mild-flavored lager (3 ounces)
1 tablespoon white vinegar

1. 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. 2. Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking 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.3. 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, 1/2-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 registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

I served it with Mango-Curry butter, which I came up with based on the butter from Allure.

1 stick of butter, softened.
1 tablespoon of Trader Joe’s Mango Chutney (you can use any mango chutney, of course; this is just what I had)
1 tablespoon (more or less to taste) of yellow madras curry; I generally buy Rajah.

You can mix this together by hand, or you can put this in a mixer for a fluffier butter. I chose the latter. I imagine this would also be good stuffed under the skin of chicken breasts, on top of steamed vegetables, or anything else you can think of.

Mmmm.