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Old 12-01-2007, 01:48 PM   #1
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Default No-knead bread: tasty, easy

A year ago I read an article in the New York Times about a fabulous, artisanal-quality bread that requires no kneading. You just throw flour, water, yeast, and salt in a bowl, mix it up, and let it sit at room temp for 18 hours (or more). Form into a loaf, and pour into a pre-heated cast-iron pot with cover, and bake for 45 minutes.

You can view a video on this at the New York Times site. Links to the right of the video are to the article and the recipe. The Times is free to all these days — just have an ad or two to deal with.

Even more useful are the two videos from the Breadtopia site.

I just saw that Cooks Illustrated has decided to do an “improved” version (they add vinegar, reduce the liquid, and replace some of the water with beer, among other things). I fear they are trying to make a different sort of bread altogether, but the article is in the January issue of the magazine, and I don’t think I’ve received that yet. (Or online, if you join. The link is to a synopsis with a join-up option.)

Then about a week ago the Times ran another article on no-knead baking, this one using a short fermentation time, followed by baking on stones with a dish of water in the oven to make the crust crackle. The recipe is from a book called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking, which has sold out of its first printing since Thanksgiving.

I am pretty sure the other approach will make better bread in the long run — the second one uses too much yeast, and you can taste it. But the ability to keep the dough in the fridge for up to two weeks, so you can hack off enough for a small loaf, a pizza, or rolls for dinner without a lot of planning, is a definite plus. And the book includes a lot of variations on the main recipe.

And I found a third technique and recipe, that uses whole wheat flour and seasonings, and may have been around for a long time.

Anyway, I have been preoccupied with this lately, so thought I would tantalize you guys. Now get back to work!

By the way: There are good threads on the first two techniques on the Cooks Forum on CompuServe. Unfortunately, I had trouble trying to create a simple link so am not posting one.

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