The Great No-Knead Bread Experiment: Part 2 (of 2)

(Missed Part 1? Start here.)

Today’s part of the project required a bit more time than yesterday’s, (not counting the 18-odd hours while it just sat on my stove) but still was hardly taxing. I’ve been working on final papers of the semester today, and every so often I had to go preheat the oven or something. Not really a huge deal. All in all, though, the second day of this project would be best for a morning spent at home as there are several steps between rising dough and finished bread.

First of all, and most important: is it any good? No matter how easy this project is, if the final product isn’t fantastic, then skip it.

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Ahem. Sorry, my mouth was full. Wow. And yum. I’m thinking I should have made a double batch.

Here’s what you do:

After waiting the 12-18 hours (mine was more like 20, but who’s counting?), your dough will have risen to about twice its original size.

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Dust flour on your work surface and place the dough on it. (Or turn the bowl over and let it plop.) Flour your palms and fold the dough once or twice. 12.10.11 028

Cover it loosely with Saran Wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes. Then dust a cotton towel with a bit of flour or cornstarch, place dough on towel. 12.10.11 035

Then cover the dough loosely with another cotton towel and let it rise for 2 hours. During this time, dough will double in size. 30 minutes before the time is up, preheat the oven and whatever you’re baking the bread in to 450 degrees. That’s important. Preheat the pan too. Got it? Good. 12.10.11 038

A note about the baking pan: it needs to be heavy, otherwise the crust will burn up before the dough is done. And you need to be able to cover it. I used a heavy ceramic bowl my grannie made back when she had a kiln and a pie pan– try anything in cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic. (That dutch oven I’ve been drooling over would have come in handy today….)

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To get the dough from the towel to the bowl, just slide your hand under the towel and turn it over the bowl. Yes, the bowl is insanely hot. Be careful.

Cover and bake for 30 minutes, then (the recipe says) cook uncovered for another 15 minutes. (My oven runs hot: I checked it after 30 minutes and the bread looked done. I gave it 5 more minutes to bake uncovered and pulled it out.)

Cool on a rack, slice and enjoy! 12.10.11 05512.10.11 06912.10.11 067

Final verdict: seriously delicious, but still a bit too time-consuming to plan on implementing on any sort of a regular basis. Next time I make it, I’m going to experiment with a longer second-day rising time. If that could be increased to, say, 8 hours instead of 2, then you could put the dough together after work on one day (say 6 pm), let it rise the minimum recommended time (to 6 am), fold it, let it rise again until 6 pm or so, then have it for dinner… I’ll figure it out. Anyway. The bread was truly delicious. And for a day like today, when I’m housebound because of my deadlines, it’s just the thing.

Updated to add: I’m not entirely satisfied with the way this bread is aging. It was done yesterday at about 2 pm; it’s now approximately 30 hours later and the crust is nearly impossible to cut. It’s still delicious, and the bread isn’t tough at all, but I’ll likely be looking for another bread recipe to try. Stay tuned! 

Updated (again) to add: I read on a bread-making site (yes, I apparently read bread-making sites. I’m very cool. Shut up.) that if you don’t let the bread cool to room temperature before cutting it, the crust will be tough. I definitely didn’t wait, so maybe I need to try this again…

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