I feel like this recipe is a bit of a rite of passage as a food blogger. It’s one of those recipes that keeps popping up via StumbleUpon. Everyone seems to have their own opinions on it and so I decided it was time I gave it a go too.
Out of all the things I make, bread is probably what I make most frequently. I love the process and the magic of turning such simple ingredients into a satisfying loaf of bread. I especially love cutting into it while it is still warm then slathering a piece in butter, devouring and savouring every crumb. I often have to stop myself eating the whole loaf at once as it is so moreish. But enough about my bread addiction.
One of the reasons I’ve avoided this recipe is because I was convinced that the long rise time would cause the bread to taste very yeasty and this is not a characteristic I like my bread to have. However, I realised the other day that the basic recipe for no knead bread requires only a quarter of a teaspoon of yeast. A usual bread recipe includes about a teaspoon and a half of yeast so I figured that this reduction would lessen the chance of getting a yeasty loaf.
This is such an easy bread to make and it’s great if you like seeing the process of the yeast working its magic. However, I do have to say that though its probably a more fun recipe for making bread the taste was lacking a little and next time I make it I will be tempted to add a little sugar and butter to add a bit of the richness that this bread was lacking.
The basic recipe that I used can be found here. I did change the method a little so I’ll post that along with the pictures below.
Just before I get to those.
While I was snapping the bread pictures I had the back door open for a bit more light and noticed this little guy tugging at a bit of fluff to take back to his nest. He was finding it pretty hard and even sat down to get better leverage. I didn’t even know blue tits could sit like this!
Okay, now onto the bread!
Begin by putting the flour into a bowl with the yeast on one side and the salt on the other. Mix these in separately then mix the whole lot together. This will stop the yeast coming into direct contact with the salt which could kill the yeast.
Next, make a well in the centre and pour in the water.
Take a wooden spoon and mix the flour and water to the consistency of a ‘shaggy mess’. This is the technical term. There shouldn’t be any dry flour in the bowl but you don’t need to worry about shaping it into a bowl or the fact that it’s very wet. It’s supposed to be.
Now cover with cling film and leave for 12-20 hours. I left mine for 18 hours.
Tip the dough out onto a very well floured surface and have more flour on standby. (The recipe I was following suggests using wet hands to balance out the extra flour but I found this too messy, so I switched back to just flouring my hands and used a scraper so I didn’t have to touch the dough too much.) Fold the edges into the middle and then turn the whole ball over and continue to tuck the dough under so you get a nice taut surface on top.
Try as I might, I couldn’t get as taut a surface as I would usually be happy with but it didn’t seem to matter.
As I didn’t have a tea towel that was appropriate for leaving my dough to rest in I just left it on my pastry mat with a tea towel over the top. This seemed to work fine. I left it for 2 hours. During the last 30 minutes of this time put your baking vessel into the oven to warm up. The temperature should be 230C. You need something that is oven safe to 230C and has a lid. I greased mine because I was paranoid about the bread sticking.
Turn out your dough into the pot (remembering that it will be very hot). The tucked in parts of the dough should now be facing up and this will make a nice pattern on top of the bread. Replace the lid and bake for 20-30 minutes (mine only needed 20). Then take off the lid and bake for another 15-20 minutes. This is to ensure a nice crispy crust.
The finished bread. It should be deep golden brown all over and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
This bread is extremely photogenic and it sounds just as beautiful, crackling as it cools.
I would definitely urge anyone to give this a go because it’s really fun to make. However I think I’ll add a tablespoon of butter and teaspoon of sugar next time and see if that takes the flavour to the next level.