Frequent readers of this blog might be shocked to learn that I'm not entirely consumed by the usual geeky topics that I post about. Among other things, I also like to cook, and as the holidays approach, I like to try to find a few new recipes and techniques. This week's experiment was one of the most basic: breadmaking.
While I'm not exactly inexperienced in the kitchen, I don't do a lot of baking, and have never really done any serious incursions into breadmaking. We have a breadmaker, but frankly, the bread it makes was just not very exciting. It's been unused for a few years. If I want bread, I go to a bakery and buy it. I just figured that bread was too hard and complex for a guy of average skill and equipment to master.
But then I read a recipe which seemed simplicity itself: Jim Lahey's recipe for No Knead Bread. Flour. Yeast. Salt. Water. And time. Simplicity itself. It is cooked inside a cast iron Dutch oven. It doesn't require kneading or working. How good could it possibly be?
Well, here's the loaf as it comes from the oven:
After it was cooled a bit, I sliced in with a good bread knife:
My first attempt wasn't perfect, but was very promising. The crust is awesome: crusty, but not too thick. Carmelized, pretty, and beautiful. The inside was just a trifle too moist to be called perfect, but still is much better than any bread you'd get off the shelf at the megamart. I think I could have done a bit better job integrating the yeast during the first mix, and it probably should have left the bread in the oven for 30 minutes covered and 30 uncovered (I only did 15 uncovered). I was concerned about the bread sticking to my cast iron Dutch oven, but it just flips out. I won't worry next time.
I'll be trying this bread again shortly. I got some unbleached bread flour for next time instead of the ordinary all purpose flour I used. If you haven't given it a try before, check it out! For the price of three cups of flour and a pinch of yeast (only one quarter teaspoon) it's even economical.
If you try this, let me know how it works out.