I have always labeled myself a late bloomer. My mother tells me I was very slow to start walking, I was slow starting to date and I got married at a statistically old marrying age, took a long time to buy a house, and waited forever to finally make a "man money" salary in my career.
It has all worked out very well though. I walk fairly well, albeit a stumble here and there, I adore The Husband and the house, and my career has been going very well. Where am I going with this you wonder? Well, I am way, way behind the times in trying to make the famous No-Knead Bread that has been all the rage for 4-5 years now. Today was the day to get on that bandwagon and give it a try thanks to my brother-in-law Steve, who recently asked me if I had ever tried to make a loaf.
I went on the Internet to search for the original recipe by Jim Lahey from Sullivan Street Bakery which was published in the New York Times a few years ago. That article really started this whole no knead bread fad. After reading through many food blogs and articles on the subject, I opted to go for the Cook's Illustrated version which is a little more complex, but received a lot of great reviews. I have never failed when using a Cook's Illustrated recipe. I won't be printing the recipe today but you can find it on their website above.
In all of the recipes I read, the one requirement which is a must, is a heavy duty dutch oven with a lid that can take up to 500 degree heat. I am not lucky enough to have an enameled cast iron Le Cruset pan, but I read from many people that the knob on those lids don't endure under that kind of heat anyway. I did have just the thing buried somewhere in my basement though; my old Lodge cast iron dutch oven and lid. I heaved it upstairs (it must weigh 20 lbs!), washed off the dust and I was ready to go. Putting this dough together was a breeze. Throw the flour, yeast and salt together in a large bowl and give it a few whisks. Add the water, beer and vinegar to the dry mixture and stir together into a shaggy dough with a spatula. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put aside in a warm place (70 deg) for up to 18 hours. Once risen, the dough is kneaded 10-15 times and then formed into a round loaf and left to rise for 2 more hours. It is then placed in the dutch oven which has been heated in a 500 degree oven for 30 minutes and left to bake at 425 degrees for approximately 50 minutes to an hourMay I say that this bread was extraordinary. When I took it out of the oven, I just could hardly believe that I had produced such a masterpiece. And the flavor was delicious. Because of the addition of beer (I used a wheat Hefeweisen), it had a delicious almost sourdough taste to it and the texture was perfect. The crust had a crackly-crunch and the middle was nice and soft. It was delicious with some butter and I can't wait to try it as toast in the morning. I may have to start baking this every weekend, it was that easy!