Tuesday, July 23, 2013

No Knead Bread

OK, so I really have been bad about blogging. Which stinks because now I'm almost done with my 3 months in central Illinois... and I really have no excuse. At the end of the day, it's me who loses, because I love the life I'm leading and want to have a record of it.

So this one is about homemade, fantastical, wonderful bread. Uber cheap, uber easy... and NO kneading. Unfortunately, I cannot provide a recipe for this one. I have neither tweaked it enough to call my own, nor is it common enough to consider it general knowledge for the sharing. This will come more as a book recommendation.

Since I travel and try to keep possessions to a minimum, a bread machine is absolutely out of the question. I have tried kneading bread before with bad results. While I could develop this skill, and I may try to do just that int he future, I didn't really see the point since I had heard about "No Knead Bread." I tried several variations found online, but eventually bought the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. 

The jist of it is:

  1. Mix up a batch ahead and let it rise on its own
  2. refrigerate until you need it, using time to replace kneading
  3. Cut off a piece
  4. let it rise for a bit
  5. bake it
So basically, you have to stir stuff together. Then, when you want bread, you tear off a piece, let it sit on the counter, then throw it in the oven. Its a miracle.

I currently make mostly white bread, whole wheat bread can be a bit trickier. I have made one whole wheat loaf before and it turned out a bit dense, but the taste was good and I will try again. My other little hint is to let the dough age a bit in the fridge, it gives a much better "sourdough" taste.

Pros: Excellent, crusty homemade bread that is easy to learn with little technique involved. Cheap and healthy with better results than store bread. Also, It's a great entry into bread baking that is pretty "no fail" and gives you the confidence to try other techniques as well.

The downfalls: They don't give measurements in weights, and I find measuring by weight is both easier and more accurate. Also, I am interested in sourdough starters and I'm not sure how I would use one with this. Equipment is minimal, they recommend a baking stone and a pan of water for steam, but I just use my dutch oven with the lid on for part of the baking time. This is how I learned to bake no-knead bread before buying the book; I ended up combining the methods. 

So look forward to more bread-related posts! Also, I encourage you to look up methods and recipes online or buy the book for a more thorough explanation of one method.

Oh, and the jam is the picture is a strawberry-blackberry Chia seed jam.... Epic fail folks. If anyone has a good chia seed jam they like, I'd love for you to share it. This one was not good.

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