As spiritualmonkey posted, we've been having fresh-baked bread a lot lately, thanks to a spiffy no-knead slow-rise recipe I came across. This is not the famous Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread from the New York Times. I haven't tried that one yet — although lots of people have had excellent results, there are also a lot of people who say it's tricky to get the timing right.
This is a different recipe — although, just to make it confusing, you could still refer to it as "that no-knead bread recipe from the New York Times" and be correct. This is from a new cookbook called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking by Jeff Hertzberg and Zöe François. (So new, in fact, that the Oakland Library hasn't even received its copy yet. And so popular — the first three printings sold out, iirc — it may take them a while to get their copy. Yours truly is #1 on the hold list when it does come in...) The idea behind this recipe is that you mix up a big batch of very wet dough and keep it in the fridge for up to two weeks. Whenever you want bread, you slice off a piece of dough, shape it, let it rise for an hour or more, and bake.
There are several base recipes, which can be adapted to make more than 100 breads and pastries, all no-knead:
PEASANT LOAVES: Baguette, Batard, Pain d'Epi, Ciabatta, Crusty White Sandwich Loaf, Olive Bread, Caraway Swirl Rye, Limpa (Scandinavian bread with honey and orange zest), Portuguese Corn Bread, English Granary Style, Oatmeal-Pumpkin, Raisin Walnut Oatmeal, Vermont Cheddar Bread, Caramelized Onion & Herb Dinner Rolls, Spinach Feta, Sun-Dried Tomato & Parmesan, Granola Bread, Roasted Garlic Potato Bread, Eastern European Potato Rye, Bagels, Bialys, Soft Pretzels, Montreal BagelsSome of the people who've made the basic recipe feel that the flavor is not as good (less complex, yeastier) than the Lahey NKB, but at least of the ones who've blogged about that being a problem, many have found that they get much better results once the dough is farther along in its 2-week lifespan.
FLATBREADS/PIZZAS: Pizza, Spinach & Cheese Calzone, Philadelphia Stromboli with Sausage, Prosciutto & Olive Oil Flatbread, Pissaladiere, Focaccia with Onion & Rosemary, Olive Fougasse, Fougasse Stuffed with Roasted Red Pepper, Sweet Provencal Flatbread with Anise Seeds, Pine-Nut Studded Polenta Flatbread, Arabic Za'atar Flatbread, Pita, Amenian Lavash, Moroccan Anise and Barley Flatbread, Naan, Scandinavian Rye Crisp bread
ENRICHED: Challah, Turban Shaped Challah with Raisins, Onion Pletzel, Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls, Brioche, Brioche a Tete, Almond Brioche "Bostock", Brioche Filled with Chocolate Ganache, Beignets, Chocolate or Jam Filled Beignets, Panettone, Soft-Style American White, Buttermilk Bread, Cinnamon Raisin Bread, Chocolate Bread, Swiss Muesli Breakfast Bread, Sunflower Seed Breakfast Loaf, Chocolate Prune, Chocolate Raisin Babka, Apple & Pear Coffee Cake, Sunny Side up Apricot Pastry, Blueberry Lemon Curd Ring, Braided Raspberry Almond Cream Pastry, Cinnamon Twists
ozarque posted an enthusiastic review of the book, and the library doesn't seem to be any closer to getting their copy, so I started looking online. And fortunately, although I haven't actually gotten my hands on the book yet, I've been able to try the technique because the authors have
- For starters, there's the basic recipe for crusty white European-style bread as given in the NYT article.
- If that version is too yeasty for you, they've got a low-yeast version of the Master Recipe, which is the way I make it. It takes longer to rise, but the flavor is more complex.
- You can use that basic recipe (or several others) to make Turkish Pita with black and White Sesame Seeds.
- Or turn it into grissini (olive-oil breadsticks).
- Moving into other savory doughs, the Rustic Spinach-Feta Bread sounds really good.
- Here's a Deli-Style Rye. (You non-Californians will have to attest to the authenticity or lack thereof on this one — I wouldn't presume. *grin*)
- There's a sweet challah-style dough, which can be used in things like these Sticky Pecan Caramel Cinnamon Rolls and this Nutella and Roasted Hazelnut Challah. (But a note on those cinnamon rolls — one teaspoon of cinnamon? That doesn't sound like nearly enough.)
- Or maybe you'd prefer Brioche Filled with Chocolate Ganache (use BugMeNot to avoid logging in).
- The brioche dough can also be used for Sunny-Side-Up Apricot Pastry.
- The authors have a website with a blog on which they post updates and tips.
- And Zöe François also has a blog of her own, which includes bread stuff as well as recipes like Warm Chocolate Rum Cake, Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Sweet Cream Cheese Icing, Lemon Meringue Bars, and Caramel Apple Cake. *whimper*
We haven't quite figured out the best way to transfer the dough from where it's rising to where it needs to be baked. It's so wet that you'd need a solid layer of cornmeal to keep it from sticking to the counter or peel while rising (and that does not-so-good things to the bottom crust). And you don't want to have to peel it off whatever it's on, because it's such a soft, wet dough that it will deflate badly. It still has impressive oven spring, but I figure less deflation has got to be better.
The most successful method so far has been to let it rise directly on the Silpat, then slide the Silpat gently onto the preheated baking stone. I've also read of people having good luck letting it rise on parchment, then transferring that to the oven (or to the preheated Dutch oven, if you're doing it that way).
We're both really enjoying having fresh bread so easily. spiritualmonkey, who was not a baker before this, has been having a great time coming up with various ways of using the dough — the basic crusty white dough done stromboli-style with pepperoni and cheese, or the sweet dough rolled out flat, sprinkled generously with cinnamon and brown sugar, then rolled up like a jellyroll and baked. Or the foot-long pain au chocolat the monkey mentioned, for that matter. (Which wasn't really a pain au chocolat, to be precise, as we had no actual chocolate in the pantry. However, that cinnamon-sugar-roll technique works quite nicely using Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa — nicely improvised, monkey.)
Of course, if you start reading up online about no-knead bread, you're going to come across the people who insist that this isn't "real" baking: "My question about 'no knead' is, if you don't knead it with your own two hands, how do you get the love into it?"
That attitude really annoys me. You know what? It's not a choice between homemade but nonetheless sub-par no-knead bread on one hand and homemade hand-kneaded no-mixer-involved slow-rise poolish-or-biga-or-wild-yeast-sourdough-based artisan bread on the other, it's a choice between homemade no-knead bread that's crusty and tasty and makes my apartment smell terrific while it's baking on one hand and a loaf of store-bought bread on the other. Me being a food-loving sort who lives in the SF Bay Area, the loaf of store-bought might be from Arizmendi or Acme, but for a lot of people in this country, store-bought doesn't get more exotic than Oroweat.
I much prefer people with more realistic attitudes: "I make it, knowing full well that there are better breads I make. I taught my neighbor who has never made bread in her life how to make that bread. So, that says it all."
The problem I have right now is that we're out of savory dough and almost out of sweet. I'm supposed to be on all-but-bed-rest for my back and leg (shh, don't tell my acupuncturist I was sitting up in front of the computer for as long as it took me to write this post), so I shouldn't go mix up new dough myself. And the monkey has been taken out of commission by the soporificat: