A Fun & Easy Weekend Project — No Knead Artisan-style Bread

1 Dec
Wheat Bran No Knead Artisan Bread

Wheat Bran No Knead Artisan Bread

Think you can’t make Bread from scratch? Think again! With a little planning and very little effort on your part you can produce a wonderful artisan-style loaf in your own oven. Here are the things you’ll need:

Time:    This recipe requires planning ahead . . . about 20 hours before you take the bread from the oven. A little longer to let it cool before serving. Yet your hands-on time is minimal and the baking time is under an hour. Just arrange your timing so you’re not getting up in the middle of the night to work the dough!

Fresh Yeast:     Get yourself to a busy Bulk Barn or whole foods pantry and buy a small amount of instant yeast. Doing so will help make sure you have fresh yeast that will rise. Store it in a jar with a tight lid and keep it in the refrigerator.

A heavy, lidded pot (6 – 8 quart) or Dutch Oven:     It can be cast iron, ceramic, enamel or Pyrex. Baking this bread in a lidded pot will give a hard crisp crust and a soft interior.

An instant-read digital meat thermometer:     Which you already have . . . because you’re a Savvy Single cook.

This recipe became all the rage when The New York Times printed a home-version of Jim Lahey’s Sullivan Street Bakery’s no-knead bread. Expensive Le Creuset Dutch ovens flew off the shelves. A 7.25 quart round cast-iron Dutch oven can be purchased on-line through Williams and Sonoma for approx. $ 450.00 Canadian compared to the suggested retail price of $ 590.00 Canadian!

Or use two smaller lidded casserole dishes.

Or use two smaller lidded casserole dishes.

Most recently, I used my largest stock pot, covering the handles and lid knob with tin foil. I’ve made a version using two smaller loaves in 2 smaller pots of 3 – 4 quart size* and adjusted the baking times according. (* One was a Kitchen Aid enamel-covered cast-iron Dutch Oven that goes on sale for $ 40 – 50 at Canadian Tire. The other was a 4 qt Pyrex casserole dish I have owned for over 20 years and probably cost me $ 20.00)

Wheat Bran No-Knead Bread

Artisan Shaped Boule

Artisan Shaped Boule

This is Chatelaine Magazine’s take on the phenomenon, the best I’ve tried yet. This bread is a wonderful to serve with a pot of stew or chili for supper. It’s best devoured the day it’s made. Any left-overs work fine as toast. If you make two smaller Boules you can freeze one in heavy-duty foil for later use.
Ingredients:

2 ½ cups             white all-purpose flour
½ cup                  whole wheat bread flour
3/4 cup                wheat bran
1/4 teaspoon       instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoon    salt
1 2/3 cup              warm tap water

(+ more whole wheat bread flour and/or wheat bran for working and dusting the dough)

Whisk  together dry ingredients

Whisk together dry ingredients

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, wheat bran, salt and the yeast.

Stir in warm water to create shaggy, wet dough

Stir in warm water to create shaggy, wet dough

Pour warm water into the bowl, mixing with a wooden spoon, just until there are no streaks of flour in the dough. The dough will appear wet and ‘shaggy’.

Place in large oiled bowl, cover with plastic. Rest 16 hours.

Place in large oiled bowl, cover with plastic. Rest 16 hours.

Lightly oil the interior of another large bowl using olive oil (and your hands or a pastry brush). Turn the wet, sticky dough into the oiled bowl, scrapping out all the dough with a spatula. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a large plastic bag. Set the bowl in a warm spot in your kitchen (I use the top of my chest freezer which sits next to the refrigerator) and leave undisturbed for a minimum of 12 hours, but 16 hours is best.

Bubbly dough? Ready for next step.

Bubbly dough? Ready for next step.

The dough is ready when the top of the dough is covered with little bubbles (like the top of a pancake when it is ready to flip).

Fold dough over on itself a few times with more flour --- on floured surface.

Fold dough over on itself a few times with more flour — on floured surface.

After this first resting period, cover your work surface generously with flour. Scrape the  dough out of the bowl to the floured counter and sprinkle with about 1/3 cup more flour (I used whole wheat bread flour).Turn the dough over onto itself a couple of times. Don’t worry about how soft the dough still seems. Cover the dough lightly with some plastic wrap and let it rest for an additional 15 minutes.

For this next step, select either a smooth cotton tea towel (not terry cloth), a silicon baking sheet or parchment paper (depends upon your desire for doing laundry or creating more litter). I used a silicon pad (the orange surface in these photos). Coat its surface well with a handful of flour.  Set your floured towel/sheet/paper to the side.

Smooth dough into a ball/disc shape using a bit more flour.

Smooth dough into a ball/disc shape using a bit more flour.

You will now work the dough with your hands, using up to 1/4 cup flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands or the counter.  The goal is to form your blob of dough into a smooth ball. Do this gently and quickly by smoothing dough from the top, down and under (like smoothing powder over a baby’s bum) until you have a disc-shaped dough. [Divide dough and shape into two discs if you want to have smaller loaves.]

Place on floured towel/sheet dust with more flour

Place on floured towel/sheet dust with more flour

Place the dough ball (seam-side down) on the floured sheet. Dust the disc generously with more flour or wheat bran, cover it with a clean, smooth cotton tea towel and leave it to rise for 2 hours.

Rest 2 hours until dough doubles in size

Rest 2 hours until dough doubles in size

Do the poke test

Ready! When still indented.

Ready! When still indented

The dough will be ready to bake when a finger poke in its side does not readily spring back out.

Preheat your oven to 450°F about 45 minutes before the end of the 2 hour rise period (so 1 hour and 15 minutes after covering your dough ball to rise). Once the oven reaches 450°F, place your empty, covered, heavy-bottomed pot or casserole (s) on the middle rack to heat for 30 minutes.

After 2nd rise, flip dough ball into preheated pot.

After 2nd rise, flip dough ball into preheated pot.

Using oven mitts and great care, remove the heated pot(s) from the oven. Remove towel covering the dough ball(s). Sliding your hand under the towel/sheet/paper containing the dough, flip the dough disk (one at a time, if making 2 smaller Boules) into the bottom of the pre-heated pot. This step is a bit messy, with flour flying through the air. Don’t worry too much if your dough disc looks misshapen, this will correct during baking. You could gently shake the pan/pot to centre the dough.

After 30 minutes covered baking.

After 30 minutes covered baking.

Place the cover on the pot and return to the centre rack of the oven. Bake, covered for 30 minutes. Then remove the lid(s) and bake for 15 – 30 minutes. Bread is cooked when a digital, instant read thermometer inserted into the side of the loaf reads 210 – 220°F. For two smaller loaves, try baking them covered for 20 -25 minutes and then uncovered for 10 -15 minutes before checking the internal temperature.

Cool boule on rack. Listen for the crackling and singing.

Cool boule on rack. Listen for the crackling and singing.

Carefully tip your loaf out of the hot pot to a wire rack to cool. Don’t be surprised if you hear the loaf crackle and sing as it cools! Baking the bread in this fashion will render a crust that’s firm and crisp while the interior bread will be soft and chewy.

Crisp thin crust with chewy, soft interior.

Crisp thin crust with chewy, soft interior.

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2 Responses to “A Fun & Easy Weekend Project — No Knead Artisan-style Bread”

  1. Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy December 1, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

    One day I will resume baking bread. For now, enjoying baking vicariously through you!

    • Susan at Savvy Single Suppers December 2, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

      Natalia, glad I can supply the vicarious pleasure! Unfortunately it won’t get you any great bread in your mouth . . .

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