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no knead bread

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No knead bread

You all out there, who think ‘oh right, a bit of cake is all very nice, I can manage that, but oh no making bread is a Higher Plane and I won’t go near it’. I’m talking to you. And I’m only going to ask you one question: have you got a cast iron casserole? If the answer is yes, you’re in business. This bread can be the first you’ve ever made.

I insist on that cast iron casserole dish because it genuinely makes baking a loaf totally fool-proof. I don’t know – probably the dough can be turned out onto a tray, or stuck in a loaf tin, and the result might be just as good, but if it’s not, it will put you off, won’t it? Now THIS comes out excellent every damn time.

I always bake my bread on Saturdays, without fail. Sometimes there’s an urgent need to bring it forward, if a crowd of voracious Bread Eaters descends on the house, but I don’t like doing that cause I’m big on routine. Some people unkindly call it OCD, or worse.  So this is perfect as I make the mix the night before, it sits happily overnight in a warm place, or ambient if raging summer, and the next morning all it needs (kneads!) doing is fold, stretch, or skip altogether and just dump into a proving basket and bake after a while.

See for yourself.

The beauty of it is also that it can come in a vast array or variations, depending on what flour you chuck in, whether you add seeds, nuts, even raisins, poppy, herbs or even cheese. I think it always needs a mix of white and wholemeal bread flour as basis, though I’ve been known to make it all-white. Not bad either. The recipe below is for rosemary bread, as this was the request submitted this week.

no knead bread

Tags: bread, easy

INGREDIENTS

  • Makes one large loaf. For a small loaf, see footnote* – but the dish to bake it in will have to be smaller, too.
  • 645g flour (any mix, basic combination will be 60% strong white and 40% wholemeal. Rye is a good addition to, in about 20%)
  • 12g salt
  • ½ tsp fast action or 5g fresh yeast
  • 510g water at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp. chopped rosemary, plus some whole leaves, if using fresh herb
Rosemary


METHOD

Put the flours, salt, chopped rosemary and yeast into a large bowl, pour in the water, mix well (but no kneading!). Cover with cling film and leave overnight or up to 12 hours in a warm place.

The next day turn the dough out onto wet surface. It should have risen nicely. Fold over itself from all angles, stretching a little, to form a manageable shape. Press the remaining rosemary leaves (needles?) into the loaf all over.

Dip thoroughly in wholemeal flour and place in a well floured proving basket or bowl lined with a cloth. Put in a plastic bag inflated a bit so it doesn’t touch the dough (just blow into it and tie the end!) and leave for about 40 minutes. Halfway through that time start preheating a cast iron casserole dish or Dutch oven (27cm dia.) in the middle of the oven at 220C/425F/gas 7.

No knead bread proving

The dough will not rise much but that’s good – I’ve found that short proving time works better if you bake it in Dutch oven.

When ready, just plonk the dough from the proving basket into the casserole dish swiftly as you can, put the lid on and into the oven. Bake with the lid on for 20 minutes, and for another 20 minutes with the lid off.

*for a small loaf: 430g flour, 8g salt, ¼ tsp fast action yeast or 3g fresh, 345g water. Dutch oven size 20cm.

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