Saturday, March 3, 2012

Rustic artisan no-knead bread

This was a recipe I had been "eying" for a while... :) Boy, was I glad I gave it a go! I hate store-bought sliced bread. I'd rather not eat any at all than buy these sugary, no-crust, full of artificial additives loaves of so-called bread. My husband is not a fan of them either. So, I had been hoping I'd find a recipe that at least resembles the kind of bread I yearn for: artisan, healthy crust, rustic look, flavorful, delicious, natural-tasting, wholesome bread. Well, here it is, friends! I was so thrilled when it came out of the oven, I could cry! It is an Italian twist on a recipe I was lucky to uncover on the net- I added a teaspoon of dry Italian seasoning to it with all the great flavors of rosemary, sage, oregano- what aroma, what taste, what texture!

Now, this is the kind of bread that is easy to put together because it does NOT require any kneading. However, you do need to plan ahead because one thing it does require is time! You have to start it the night before. One other thing-  ideally, you do need to have a cast iron Dutch oven with a lid that has a high-temperature resistance knob because this is what you want to bake your bread in, and have it covered for the first 30 minutes- if you want to achieve optimal results, that is. Now, as it happens, I do have a Dutch oven, but the knob on the lid- currently- is not stainless steel and can only withstand temperatures of up to 375F. So, I used a casserole dish which I knew could go in a hot oven. I was happy with the bread but I think that once I got myself that stainless steel lid knob, I will be nothing short of ecstatic with the way it bakes (you think I am going to Le Creuset's store soon? :)))

All that being said, here is the beauty I was able to produce last night! Joy, oh, joy!

And here is the recipe:

3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon dry yeast (yes, it is very little yeast- but trust me, that is all you need!)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry Italian seasoning
1 1/2 cup water (I used lukewarm)

Additional suggestions: 
You can also alter the recipe to make whole wheat bread by using 1/2 all purpose flour and 1/2 whole wheat flour. I am thinking of even sprinkling some flax seed in next time.
This recipe also makes great focaccia by adding 3 tablespoons of light extra virgin olive oil to the original recipe and baking as you would a pizza.


In a mixing bowl add the flour, the yeast and the salt. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, blend the dry ingredients.

Pour in 1 1/2 cup of water and mix. Pull together the dough using your hands or a wooden spoon.Scrape any excess flour from the bottom and sides of the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well incorporated and form into a ball.  The dough will have a stringy texture.

Place a piece of plastic wrap on the bowl to avoid the dough from drying out. Allow to rise in a warm dry, and draft free place for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.

Dust a large piece of parchment paper, measuring about 24 inches with flour to prevent the dough from sticking during its second rising. Scrape the risen dough onto the floured parchment paper.

Sprinkle some flour on the dough to prevent it from sticking to your hands.Lightly pat down the dough with your hands to form a piece of dough measuring approximately 10x10 inches.

Fold both side edges to the center of the dough.take the top edge and fold into the center, doing the same with the bottom edge of the dough.

Turn the dough and place the folded side of the dough on the parchment paper and dust with flour to prevent sticking.

Loosely wrap the dough in the parchment paper and place on a baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel. Transfer to a warm and dry place and allow to rise a second time for 2 hours.

Place a cast iron Dutch oven with its cover on the second rack from the bottom of your stove's oven.  Preheat the oven to 450ºF .  Dust the smooth side of the risen dough with flower to prevent it from sticking to the bottom while baking.

Once the oven reaches the required temperature, remove the pot from the oven and take the cover off. Place the dough, folded sides up and cover. Bake for 30 minutes at 450ºF

Remove the cover and continue baking at 375º F an additional 10-15 minutes.

And if you are lucky as I was, you should have something as beautifully looking as this awesome loaf of bread. Do give it a try! It is worth the wait! Trust me!

Recipe adapted from:

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