For a couple of years I have been reading blog entries about "no-knead bread" and how easy and how delicious it is. I finally got around to trying it a week or so ago. Easy. Delicious. I made another loaf yesterday, well, actually yesterday and the day before. The only not easy part is getting organized to make it because you have to start the bread the day before you want to eat it.
It is the simplest of recipes. 4 ingredients: flour, salt, yeast, water. Of course you can dress it up, and I will try some variations later, but this is the basic bread. You start by mixing the 4 ingredients in a big bowl, covering the bowl with plastic wrap and letting it sit for about 18 hours. After sitting, it looks like this:
You pour it out onto a floured surface, sprinkle a little flour over it and on your hands and fold it over on itself a couple of times. Remember—no kneading. Then you cover it and let it sit for a couple more hours.
After that you pat it into a ball, then dump it into a pre-heated pan with a lid—my cast iron dutch oven is perfect. Bake it with the lid on for 30 minutes and the lid off for another 12-15 minutes to get it golden brown. And this is what comes out of the oven.
The crust is perfectly crusty and the interior is moist, with a chewy texture and divine yeasty flavor. Unbelievably good bread. Here is the recipe. And here is a story about how it was developed. This second loaf did not look as pretty as the first one I made, but tasted every bit as good. The dough seemed wetter and a little harder to form than the first, so it was a little misshapen. The recipe says not to worry—that even if it looks like a mess in the pan, it will even out as it cooks. This one didn't exactly even out, but no one complained at dinner last night. They ate every last crumb. It tasted really good with the thick, hearty minestrone I made.
Add a glass of red wine and you have the perfect fall supper.