Sunday, January 18, 2009

The five minute artisan bread that took a week to make.

It's been a couple of years since Mark Bittman and the New York Times published their first articles on various no-knead breads, which have since popped up on sites like Tastespotting and many a food blog.

And now it's my turn! Hey, it had to happen at some point I suppose.

No-knead bread is something I've actually avoided ever since I first read about it one morning in the photo lab, on campus, a couple of years ago. Personally, if I want fresh bread, I want it today...not tomorrow. Then, a couple of weeks ago, while listening to The Splendid Table, I listened intently as Lynne spoke with Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg, authors of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery that Revolutionizes Home Baking. At first I thought their method was just another clone of the many recipes for no-knead bread which are mostly the same. The difference, and the step that really caught my attention, is that with this recipe, you actually want to let it age or ripen in the fridge for as long as two weeks. Now that had to make an interesting loaf!

Another point I like about this bread is that ou needn't bake it all at once. I have actually been using small handfulls at a time to make even a single roll, or rolling out a little bit and making flatbread on the grill, so this is a batch that you can come back to all week long. At least, that's how long I've been aging my dough! And the longer you age it, the more intense and flavorful it becomes. After a week it has an almost sourdough-like flavor to it.

This, being my first attempt, I didn't mess with the recipe much, with the exception of replacing three cups of all purpose flour with whole wheat, just to give it a bit more flavor and a more old worldliness, I suppose you could say. Next time, which will be very soon, maybe even tomorrow, I may try using bread flour cut with rye flour, or maybe barley flour.

Five-Minute Artisan Bread
From Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery that Revolutionizes Home Baking by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois (Thomas Dunne Books, 2007). Copyright 2007 by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.

Serves 4

Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance.

1-1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (about 1-1/2 packets)
1-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6-1/2 cups unbleached flour, plus extra for dusting dough

In a large plastic resealable container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm (about 100 degrees) water. Using a large spoon, stir in flour, mixing until mixture is uniformly moist with no dry patches. Do not knead. Dough will be wet and loose enough to conform to shape of plastic container. Cover, but not with an airtight lid.

Let dough rise at room temperature, until dough begins to flatten on top or collapse, at least 2 hours and up to 5 hours. (At this point, dough can be refrigerated up to 2 weeks; refrigerated dough is easier to work with than room-temperature dough, so the authors recommend that first-time bakers refrigerate dough overnight or at least 3 hours.)

When ready to bake, sprinkle cornmeal on a pizza peel. Place a broiler pan on bottom rack of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and preheat oven to 450 degrees, preheating baking stone for at least 20 minutes.

Sprinkle a little flour on dough and on your hands. Pull dough up and, using a serrated knife, cut off a grapefruit-size piece (about 1 pound). Working for 30 to 60 seconds (and adding flour as needed to prevent dough from sticking to hands; most dusting flour will fall off, it's not intended to be incorporated into dough), turn dough in hands, gently stretching surface of dough, rotating ball a quarter-turn as you go, creating a rounded top and a bunched bottom.

Place shaped dough on prepared pizza peel and let rest, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it in lidded container. (Even one day's storage improves flavor and texture of bread. Dough can also be frozen in 1-pound portions in airtight containers and defrosted overnight in refrigerator prior to baking day.) Dust dough with flour.

Using a serrated knife, slash top of dough in three parallel, 1/4-inch deep cuts (or in a tic-tac-toe pattern). Slide dough onto preheated baking stone. Pour 1 cup hot tap water into broiler pan and quickly close oven door to trap steam. Bake until crust is well-browned and firm to the touch, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven to a wire rack and cool completely.


Jesse said...

I've never made no knead bread either, but only because I can't figure out why kneading is a problem. I am, however, a big fan of aging the dough. This sounds fantastic! I may just be making my first no knead bread!

Debbie said...

Hey Tom, Thanks for sharing your recipe for the 5-minute Artisan Bread. I like a nice hardly looking and tasting bread andI'm anxiuos to give it a try! Debbie

Anonymous said...

As with most things in life, you get what you'll get what you pay for (or wait for, in your instance).

Totally worth it.

Anonymous said...

Tom, this sounds like it would be a delicious bread. I love the idea of having it in the fridge to pull some out and bake when you need it. Thanks for sharing with us.
Patti (t)/BakeSpace

Melissa said...

This looks great! And I love that it doesn't have to be baked all at once!

Anonymous said...

Isn't this a great recipe! The dough also makes a great flat bread or thin crust pizza. When I have a 5-quart pail in the refrigerator, everyone knows what's in it. :)

~~Vicki (BakeSpace)

Just Cook It said...

I've been using this method as well, albeit slightly modified - I add to it as I take handfuls out. It takes on sourdough qualities as it gets older, which is cool.

Plastic Containers said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
TylerF said...

i consider myself the worst cook that there is, and even i was able to do this (LOL :))

thanks for the recipe and idea...

Rita Collins said...

Made the bread for my husband, the house never ever smelled so good.
Spread butter and then top with sugar and cinnamon. You will never be the same :)