Daily Archives: January 4, 2021

04 January 2021: Jim Leahy’s No Knead Bread

I’ve been a home bread baker for most of my adult life and, especially now as more home bakers are interested in breads, I’ve been experimenting with different loaves. This one – a No Knead Bread developed by Sullivan Street Bakery‘s Jim Lahey is the bake I return to most frequently. It uses a list of simple ingredients and, with a little forward planning, the rise time is not a roadblock.

Usually when I’m putting together this dough, I start in the late afternoon the day before I intend to bake. Doing so allows most of the rising of 18 hours (I do think the longer rise time makes a difference) to happen while I’m asleep. I do the reshaping, preheating, and baking the next morning.

This recipe was originally shared in the New York Times by Mark Bittman. After it was originally published, NYT Food readers shared some suggestions for homebakers which are part of this recipe published in the Times. I’ve incorporated my own adjustment to baking based on what I learned from America’s Test Kitchen (those tweaks are in bold italics below).

Over the last few years, I have come to realize how important weighing ingredients like flour is to successful baking. While consistent bakes are often at the whim of the weather (how humid, how warm the air temperature), I strongly recommend using a food scale for weighing ingredients which makes the time investment in turning out a quality loaf more of a certainty.

Jim Lahey’s No Knead Bread

Ingredients
  • 3 ⅓ cups/430 grams all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  •  Cornmeal or wheat bran, as needed

Method

  1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons/390 milliliters water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
  2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
  3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball.
  4. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger. Here’s where I use some baking tips learned from America’s Test Kitchen’s version of a No-Knead Bread: tear off a piece of parchment big enough to hold the ball of dough (about 12×14 or so). Put the parchment into a 10-12 inch fry pan and allow the dough to rest on top of the parchment (covered loosely with a piece of plastic). If you like your bread dusted with flour or toasted sesame seeds, this is the time to do that.
  5. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. And here’s another modification if you are using parchment: TURN THE TEMPERATURE DOWN TO 425 degrees when you are ready to put the dough into the dutch oven (or whatever you are using). Paper could ignite if you don’t turn the temperature down.
  6. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

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