Sunday, May 12, 2013

The neighbor's no-knead bread

                                          Mark Titzel's no-knead bread, fresh from the oven.

Our neighbor Mark across the street and I debated last week about sourdough vs. Jim Lahey's No-knead breads. Mark wins this one hands down. He came over this evening bearing a rounded perfectly-crusted, never-kneaded loaf, hot from his oven. It made me think that while I'm learning sourdough, maybe I owe it to myself to try this tasty and relatively simple bread.

Mark said that he used the well-known Jim Lahey recipe for 18-hour no-knead bread that was published in the New York Times in 2006 (see below). Since then, Mr. Lahey has published a book, and demonstrated and written extensively about his method.

I'm a complete beginner at breads, and especially at being able to understand the intricacies of 21st century artisan breads. My first loaves, and most of them for the next several decades came from the Rombauers' 1967 "Joy of Cooking." Those were days of milk, sugar, and butter in the bread, even the French bread (click here for a slight variation on that recipe) that today would have simply water, flour, yeast and a bit of salt (click here for a more modern recipe for French bread).

A few weeks ago,  Alyeska Bake Shop gave me some of their sourdough starter, and it couldn't just sit in the back of the fridge. I got busy reading and working with a whole new set of recipes, techniques, and terminologies -- folds, levains, preferments, Dutch ovens, bread stones, and more. I'm too much of a novice to compare the No-Knead technique with the variety of ways in which artisan breads rise and are kneaded, and proofed and baked. But there are similarities. Both the Lahey technique and sourdough breads rely on long fermenting times to give them more complex flavor. Both call for baking breads in ovens much hotter than those recommended in the early "Joy of Cooking." They do without the sugar, butter, and milk that seemed to be standard for the 1960s recipes, and work their wonders with flour, water, yeast and a bit of salt.

                              The no-knead bread -- a light crumb and thin, crisp crust -- ready for jam or cheese.

Suffice it to say that Mark's gift was both beautiful and delicious. Jim and I have been nibbling away all evening, and are looking forward to toasting this and slathering it with butter and homemade raspberry jam (or maybe Matanuska honey) for breakfast on Mothers' Day tomorrow.

Baking the Perfect Loaf of Bread at Home

Formula and Process created by Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan St Bakery
    3 cups (430g) flour
    1½ cups (345g or 12oz) water
    ¼ teaspoon (1g) yeast
    1¼ teaspoon (8g) salt
    olive oil (for coating)
    extra flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal (for dusting)
        Two medium mixing bowls
        6 to 8 quart pot with lid (Pyrex glass, Le Creuset cast iron, or ceramic)
        Wooden Spoon or spatula (optional)
        Plastic wrap
        Two or three cotton dish towels (not terrycloth)
          Mix all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add water and incorporate by hand or with a wooden spoon or spatula for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Lightly coat the inside of a second medium bowl with olive oil and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest 12 hours at room temperature (approx. 65-72°F).
          Remove the dough from the bowl and fold once or twice. Let the dough rest 15 minutes in the bowl or on the work surface. Next, shape the dough into ball. Generously coat a cotton towel with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal; place the dough seam side down on the towel and dust with flour. Cover the dough with a cotton towel and let rise 1-2 hours at room temperature, until more than doubled in size.

          Preheat oven to 450-500°F. Place the pot in the oven at least 30 minutes prior to baking to preheat. Once the dough has more than doubled in volume, remove the pot from the oven and place the dough in the pot seam side up. Cover with the lid and bake 30 minutes Then remove the lid and bake 15-30 minutes uncovered, until the loaf is nicely browned.

          No comments:

          Post a Comment