Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread from the New York Times
The No-Knead Bread recipe from Mark Bittman – aka the New York Times’ Minimalist – is one of those recipes that has taken on a life of its own. Published in the newspaper in 2006, it still keeps cropping up on other people‘s blogs and, finally – it was on my list of recipes-to-try for ages – I’ve gotten around to making it.
The first time I used this recipe was three days before our wedding. Awake at 4am one morning, I thought it was a good time to start the 18-hour proving (it sure beat writing wedding preparation lists!) so I threw the ingredients into a bowl and forgot about it until 6pm that evening. We were on our way to the airport to collect the Husband’s Cousin, so it got a quick shaping and was abandoned while we whizzed down to Cork, collected the HC, and brought him home. While they brought the bags into the house, I ran ahead to turn on the cooker and start preheating my cast iron casserole – I don’t think the bread came out of the oven until midnight but it was certainly worth waiting for. It had a gorgeous, crackly crust, (although somewhat over-floured by yours truly, panicking after trying to shape the wet, shaggy dough) and firm, chewy crumb. We ate it the following morning for breakfast and I was looking forward to trying it toasted – until I landed almost the entire loaf in a sink full of washing-up water as we raced around, getting ready to leave for another airport trip!
Friday night, after we arrived at the cottage, I started the bread mixture, this time substituting one cup of rye flour for one of strong flour. As I wandered off to nearby Longueville House for an indulgent, and prolonged, lunch with the Kerryman’s mother, the Husband had to step into the breach for the final shaping although I did make it home for the cooking. This time round, I kept it safe from the sink, we enjoyed the loaf over three meals and it is fabulous toasted, especially when rubbed with a clove of garlic and drizzled with a little olive oil.
For the recipe, I’ll refer you to the New York Times. I cook it in my 29cm oval cast iron casserole and these are the proportions that I use:
2 cups strong flour
1 cup rye flour
1 sachet instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Update 31/07/07: For a great step-by-step picture guide of how to make this bread go here and Clotilde has adapted the recipe for the metric world over on Chocolate and Zucchini – but, I have to reiterate this, be very careful when you’re transferring the dough to the pan to the cooker. It is VERY HOT (last weekend’s lovely oven-shelf-shaped blister on my arm is now finally healing after lavish amounts of aloe vera).
Sounds really interesting Caroline. Will have to try it. I wish someone would come up with a no-proof yeast bread! 😉 I don’t mind the kneading, in fact sometimes it’s the only exercise I get!
I wasn’t happy with my attempts. I’ve been thinking about trying it again. I like the addition of the rye flour.
I know what you mean, Deborah. I enjoy kneading normally but my current kitchen(s) don’t have any suitable work surfaces so it’s just easier to do it this way!I’m not a plain white bread fan so that’s why I normally do a little meandering around with recipes like this. I’ve found it difficult to source strong wholemeal bread flour so haven’t been able to go the wholemeal direction but I do like the slightly sour flavour that the the rye flour gives to the bread.
I got great results by doubling the Times recipe and using a 9-qt cast iron dutch oven.
Do you stick to the same timings, Adam?
hmmm i’ve been in a baking mood gotta try this.. hey, regarding your comment on Cacao Sampaka of Barcelona, my mum just got some cocoa powder as presents – both the regular dark ones and the super rich and thick ones you make with just milk. I’m sure she flew across the continents to Asia with a heavenly-scented suitcase as well, I’d have to ask her!
What a great present to get! When my sister and I were wandering around Barcelona, our noses literally led us to that little shop…my credit card didn’t escape unscathed and now I just wish that I brought more back! Let me know how you get on with the No-Knead Bread. Think I might try Adam’s suggestion, next time, and double my loaf size.
Yes, exact same timings, just twice as much of everything.
Tried a double mixture, as you suggested, last weekend, Adam, but it nearly bested me! The mixture was fairly runny that time and it took off all over the counter – even my dough scraper could hardly keep up. Although I did lose some of it, what I managed to scrape together and bake was fabulous. Great to have a larger loaf for a change, though – it was still good toasted after four or five days.
I tried that bread and I must say that it didn’t seem to be so good and delicious as it is said to be. For me, it seemed like a normal piece of bread.