Almost No-Knead Bread

May 18, 2010

For those who have more patience than muscle, this is an easy bread recipe requiring about 24-hours of waiting, but almost no kneading. It only requires 10 minutes of actual work. This isn’t like those 99-cent loaves of Italian Bread from the supermarket (the kind with 25 ingredients). This is more like the $4 artisan loaves (the kind with 4 or 5 ingredients). Plus you make it with all-purpose flour; no special trip to the supermarket to buy bread flour.

Start the night before, then bake 2 hours before dinner.

Simply fold all the ingredients together using a rubber spatula and let sit a room temperature for 18 hours. Four hours before dinner time, knead the dough about 10 times. Two hours before dinner, put it in a hot dutch oven and bake for a total of 50 minutes. Let cool for at least an hour.

The beer and vinegar give a nice complexity and bitter tang, slightly reminiscent of the sourdough I grew up on in San Francisco, but without all the work of maintaining the starter. Also, my boys don’t like sourdough; such Easterners.

Issues:

  1. To prevent the crust from hardening too much, I kept the dutch oven covered for 35 minutes, and baked uncovered for only 15 minutes.
  2. Because I used “Active Dry Yeast” instead of “Instant Yeast”, I heated the water and beer to 115-degrees in the microwave and “started” the yeast for 10 minutes. Because it uses only 1/4 teaspoon of yeast (and because there was no sugar) there were no tell-tale bubbles, so don’t panic that your yeast is too old.
  3. The recipe calls for mild beer such as Budweiser, so I had to make an extra trip to the Bottle Shop. Next time I’ll try Blue Moon, my regular brew.
  4. Limitations: Cannot make it on weekdays, because I am not home to knead it 4 hours before dinnertime. I cannot make when the main course will require the oven earlier than 2-hours before dinnertime. I won’t make it during July and August, because maintaining a 500-degree oven for more than an hour would make my non-central-air-conditioned house too unpleasant.

Rating: 4-1/2 star.
Cost: $0.70 for 1 loaf.  Without the 3-ounces of beer the loaf would cost just 40-cents.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low.
Start time 7 PM yesterday. Dinner time 6:30 PM.

The high hydration level makes for a course crumb.


%d bloggers like this: