Sunday, April 15, 2012

No Knead to Fuss: One Pot of Bread

All right, I will admit that I’m stretching the definition of “one pot meal” a bit here. When someone says a one pot meal, they mean an actual meal pulled together into a pot, typically a soup or stew full of goodies. And while I did have some ideas for the typical one pot meal, my family was a bit full up on soup this week and I wasn’t going to press my luck trying out a new soup recipe.
Instead, I opted to try out no knead bread, a baking application which has been on my mind since I read about it in The New York Times (online). It also involves an enameled cast iron pot, which if one uses as the mixing bowl as well, could justify my claim that this is indeed a one pot meal. Plus a towel and table. Details. And whether some slices of delicious bread and butter constitutes a meal.
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Ingredients are simple. Flour, yeast, salt, corn meal (could be substituted with wheat bran or just more salt). And just for my curiosity’s sake I’ve employed my scale. Turns out three cups of flour is about 21 oz. and 1+5/8 cup of water is roughly 13 oz. by weight.
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Dry ingredients are tossed together into the pot. (Not the corn meal)
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Then the water is added.
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A few vigorous turns of a wooden spoon and it comes together rather… like a slightly dryer pizza dough. I did grab the mass and wipe it around the edges to try to keep everything in one piece more or less.
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Cover with plastic wrap, and keep it at a warm place. I like the top of the refrigerator. Oh, I forgot to mention, this is one of my “you need a lot of time recipes.” I let this sit here for 18 hours. What you take away in kneading, you add in spades with resting time.
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Ah, there it is, a wonderfully dotted dough.
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Turn onto a floured surface.
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Fold over twice.
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Reuse plastic wrap and cover the dough, let rest 15 minutes.
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Once done resting, shape it into a ball and place on a well floured/cornmealed cotton towel.
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Cover with more flour/cornmeal.
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Then cover with another towel. Or just fold it over. I mean honestly. Let rise for 2 hours. Take the time to wash out the pot.
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An hour and a half into the rising, preheat your oven to 450 degrees and put your washed and dried pot into the oven while it is heating up.
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Here’s my risen dough.
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Now toss it into the heated pot, cover, then put back into the oven, baking for 30 minutes.
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Then marvel at the transformation. Wow. Don’t get too excited, we aren’t done yet. Remove the cover and continue baking for another 15-30 minutes, as long as it takes to brown the crust nicely.
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There we go!
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Dust off any excess cornmeal or what have you and cool it on a rack (or an inverted toaster oven tray insert). Let cool before enjoying.
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The crumb was pretty nice and airy, with huge bubbles I don’t usually get. Maybe there’s something to this no knead after all.
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Yeah, big holes. Maybe too big?
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Sliced up, it makes a great foundation for some simple but great ham sandwiches. It’s also great with some jam as well. If you’ve got the time, I recommend you try out this “one pot meal.”
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No-Knead Bread in One Pot (adapted from The New York Times)
  • 3 cups flour (21 oz.)
  • .25 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1.25 tsp. salt
  • 1 and 5/8 cup water (13 oz.)
  • Extra flour, cornmeal, or wheat bran
  1. In a cast iron, enameled cast iron, Pyrex container or ceramic pot (or mixing bowl if you must) combine the first three ingredients together then add the water and mix until it pulls together in a shaggy sticky mass. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in a warm location for 12-18 hours.
  2. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, fold it over twice and over with the plastic wrap, let rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Shape dough into ball quickly and gently, then turn onto a towel generously coated with cornmeal, flour or wheat bran, seam side down. Cover generously with more cornmeal, flour or wheat bran, then cover with another towel, or if your towel is big enough, just fold it over. Let rise for two hours. In the meantime, wash and dry your covered cast iron pot.
  4. 30 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 450 degrees and put the cast iron pot, lid and all into the oven while it heats.
  5. When your dough has fully risen, turn it into the preheated pot, seam side up and cover it.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, remove lid, then continue baking for 15-30 minutes as needed for the loaf to be browned.

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