I’ve started baking my own bread. I made my first loaf on March 25. It’s now 11 days later and I have made 6 loaves of bread so far. I feel like some kind of supermom. But it’s so quick, easy and flexible that no superpowers are actually necessary. Seriously, I am at best an amateur cook, I rarely bake and never anything with dough – if I can make this, so can you. The only catch is you need a oven proof dish with a heavy lid. Dutch ovens are perfect for this. I managed to get one at Costco this fall for only $50 so that’s what I’ve been using but there are other things that can work like casserole dishes if you want to give it a try.
I’ve also made a number of mistakes that I’ve learned from that I’ll share as well. Amazingly despite the mistakes every loaf I’ve made has still turned out. This recipe is really resilient.
(Adapted from Calgarian Julie Van Rosendaal’s take on Jim Lahey’s no knead bread method on babble.com)
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- ¼ tsp yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 2¼ cups water (this is more than the standard recipe because whole wheat flour is thirstier than refined flour)
- In a large mixing bowl stir the flour, yeast and salt together with your hands.
- Add 2 cups of the water. Mix the dough and water together with your hands until you can no longer see dry flour. You can run your hands under the tap to wet them if you are worried about the dough sticking to them, but it’s not really necessary.
- Check your dough, it should look wet but the flour should absorb all the water.You couldn’t knead this dough if you wanted too. If your dough still looks dry add a little at a time and mix until it looks wet. I found 2¼ cups of water to be perfect. Don’t stress out too much about it though, I’ve made it both too dry and too wet and the bread still turned out fine. It was just a little dense when it was too dry and it was harder to move when it was too wet.
- Cover the bowl with saran wrap and leave it on the counter for 12-24 hours. Whenever it is convenient for you. The dough should have risen noticeably and you’ll probably see some little bubbles at the top.
- When you are ready sprinkle wheat bran, flour or corn meal on the top of the dough as well as on a large tea towel.
- Use a spatula to loosen the dough from the bowl and drop it onto one side of the tea towel. Fold the dough over on itself a few times and then sprinkle the flour (or whatever) on the top.
- Roll the dough onto the other side of the tea towel and coat the other side with flour (or whatever) again. Fold the tea towel over the top of the dough ball and leave it out for 1-2 hours. (Don’t leave it on the stove it will get all sticky and attach itself to the tea towel when you are preheating the stove – trust me).
- In the last half hour preheat the stove to 450F with your oven safe pot inside to make sure it’s nice and hot.
- Take the pot out of the oven and dust the inside with flour (or whatever). Roll the dough into the hot pot, place the lid on and stick it in the oven for 30 minutes. Then, take the lid off and bake for 15 more minutes.
- For best results, let the loaf cool before eating, but if you really want warm bread, you can cut it right away and it’s still really good.
This looks like a lot of steps but is really very little work and not very hard. Check out this youtube video where Jim Lahey demonstrates the process.