Friday, November 10, 2006

The Best Bread I've Ever Made.

Sticking my head above the towering pile of freelance work I'm buried under (not that I'm complaining one bit! Yay money!), to tell you to try this recipe. It's weird, and not quite perfect, but it produced the absolute best bread that has ever come out of my oven. Thin, crackling crust, airy, gorgeous crumb, and it's delicious too.


In case the Times decides to start charging for the article after a couple of weeks, here it is. A word of caution: in the accompanying video only 1.5 cups of water is called for, and I think that's what should be used. My dough was beyond loose and shaggy--it was more like trying to handle a thick pancake batter. But still, even though the whole time I was working with it I was sure it wasn't going to work, it was fantastic.


No-Knead Bread
makes one 1.5 pound loaf

Originally published by Mark Bittman in the New York Times
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery

Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt (note: I use a heaping two teaspoons of salt)
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water (very important note: this amount should be 1.5 cups but was misprinted in the Times), and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees (note: 500 degrees works even better). Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

22 comments:

Barbara (Biscuit Girl) said...

I heard about that article and was curious enough to try the bread recipe too. Your picture looks great! I may give this one a whirl.

McAuliflower said...

looks great!
I'm confused as to why your recipe lists a water measurement of 1 5/8 cup when you state in the beginning you think 1 1/2 cups should be used.

Marianne said...

Ah, sorry about the confusion. The recipe I posted is the exact one that was in the Times (i.e., not my recipe), but I think it could use a hair less water.

Anonymous said...

I only submit this comment because I see that you moderate them, and I don't expect you to post this one. I hope you don't, as well, for I write this in all good faith. But, especially since you are published in your local media, shouldn't you give a credit to your recipe source as a full quote?

My understanding of the copyright issues for food writers is that we are free to post other's recipes, but in our own words. Since you have adapted the recipe, why not just revise the text as an adaptation of Bittman's adaptation, or at least credit Bittman as the author (albeit not the "creator") of the recipe as you posted it?

Again, I mean this in a friendly manner, and I hope you don't take it as an offense in any way.

Best wishes; I do enjoy your site.

McAuliflower said...

thanks for the clarification Marianne. I'm enjoying all the discussion about this recipe. Of to try it myself- thanks for the inspiration.

amanda said...

ooo marianne! i just love all those fermentation holes in your bread. they tell me it absolutely must be good! i'm definately going to have to read that article... i haven't made bread in quite some time.

Lis said...

Wow! That bread looks fabulous! Thank you for sharing the recipe, I look forward to trying it - especially if there is no kneading involved. hee!

Rachel said...

What is the benefit of not kneading it?

Marianne said...

Well, you don't have to put any effort into it, don't have to dirty up your stand mixer, etc. But really, the technique just produces gorgeous bread.

tipsta said...

i'm in the process of baking the bread. This morning i realized that somehow i had miscalculated and it had risen 24 hours, not 12 and the yeast I was supposed to be used by 2001, but I plunged forward. My dough was really soupy too and I had to sprinkle lots of flour on it to even get it into any facimile of a ball. I just turned on the oven--so i'll let yo know how it turned out.

Skeezix said...

Mmmm, that bread looks warm and comforting. I think it would go fanastically with a nice bowl of soup.

Elizabeth said...

I also saw the recipe/video in the paper and I tried making the bread twice, but both times it was too wet. Even though it was almost impossible to shape it into a ball, I did bake it but the bread was still to wet in the middle - and if I had baked it any longer it would have been burnt on the bottom. Maybe I'm being too skimpy with the flour.

Cyndi said...

I live at 6,000 feet, where normally the adaptation to baking recipes is to add flour and reduce water. I'll give it a try and let you know, though it will probably be a while - no 70-degree temps for rising! Maybe in the spring.

Tanna said...

You may want to check out an update by M Bittman in the NYT at
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/06/dining/06mini.html?_r=2&ref=dining&oref=slogin&oref=slogin
I did my first loaf from the printed recipe, it was terrific. I watched the video and used 1/2 c whole wheat in my second loaf. Now, I'm just winging it. I'll be doing another post on this bread again soon.

:: Suzanne :: said...

I love it. I didn't think through the timing when I started it and had to put it in the fridge for 15 hours. It didn't mind a bit. YUM!

Anonymous said...

Regarding the water: the difference between 1.5 cups and 1 5/8 cups is only 1/8 of a cup, or one ounce (2 tablespoons). Would an extra ounce of water mixed with 3+ cups of dry ingredients make that much difference in the handing characteristics of the resulting dough? Really?

Marianne said...

Well, yes. Read any of the million blog posts out there, it does make a difference.

Anonymous said...

A couple of tablespoons of liquid can make a big difference in how baked goods turn out. So can elevation, the outside humidity, and how you store you flour (freezer vs pantry)!

Lisa said...

Hi There, Presently trying out this recipe, just wondering why one doesn't have to oil the pot? Can't wait to see it.

Deena said...

FYI, when working with a dry dough, you put flour on your hands and surface to prevent sticking. But when working with a wet dough, it's best to wet your hands while working with it. I keep a cup of water beside me.

I'm going to try this recipe right now. I'm very excited! My main concern is that it seems like so little yeast...

Deena said...

Results: I did it a bit differently than the recipe. I'm not strict about measurements in bread recipes. But it was a really fun bread to make and, most importantly, it's YUMMY!

Also, what always annoys me about my breads is that they are crummy and they easily break away. They don't have that tearing feeling that bought breads have. Well, this one has it! You have to pull at it to get it apart and now I think that there is such a thing as over-kneading! This is a new one to me.

Deena said...

Sorry, I'm back yet again. I just wanted to share that I mix lots of different things into the bread and everyone is loving it. I do things like sun-dried tomatoes, olives, garlic, onion... Any mix of those. And then I also made one of my breads with pieces of bitter sweet chocolate in them.

I totally recommend trying mixing different things into your bread. It takes it to a whole other level!