After quite a few years of bread making, (and not buying a single loaf) sometimes there’s a danger of it becoming a chore. So it’s time to shake things up a little. And no knead bread might be the way to go.
Basically it seems that the process is the same, except for the kneading bit (of course) which is the bit that can feel like a chore. The main difference is that the dough is much wetter and the first prove much longer, up to 24 hours.
This recipe is adapted from Townsends – a lovely Youtube Channel. It is an 18th century recipe for ‘French’ bread and is enriched with milk, butter and eggs.
- 400g bread flour
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp dried active yeast
- 2 tbsp flour
- 4 fl oz/ about 120ml warm water
- 2 egg yolks and 1 egg white
- 6 fl oz/ about 150/160ml water
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- Make the Barm. This is basically a yeasty liquid (originally obtained from a brewer). You can achieve the same result by mixing the 2 tbsp of flour to the water and mixing in the yeast. Leave it for 10 mins or so for the yeast to activate.
- Put the flour and salt into a large bowl and mix together
- Whisk the 1 white into the milk
- whist the 2 egg yolks together with the melted butter.
- Combine all the wet ingredients and whisk together.
- Make a well in the flour and pour in the liquid. Combine with floured fingers, bringing the dry flour into the centre until it’s all mixed together. Is will be very wet and sticky compared to a ‘normal’ bread dough.
- Cover with a damp cloth or put into a large plastic bag and leave to prove. This can be anything from 12 to 24 hours, depending on the temperature. It will grow slowly and puff up and there may be bubbles on the surface.
- Tip out onto a well floured surface. Push out with your fingers into a rectangle. Fold both sides, a third each time (making 3 layers). Turn it 90 degrees and repeat the process, tucking in the sides and edges.
- Leave to rest, cover by a floured cloth or in a plastic bag whilst the oven heats. You need a HOT oven, 230 degrees C/ Gas Mark 8.
- Put the loaf onto a floured (semolina is great for this) tray and bake for about 40 minutes, the base should sound hollow when tapped. Adding water into a tray at the bottom will create steam for a crisper crust.
Slightly under baked (the fault of the baker!), but rich, and tasty with a hint of Brioche.
Dutch Oven Method
The original recipe called for baking in a Dutch Oven. This is basically just a large, oven proof lidded pot. It seems that it helps retain the steam created by the wet dough during the baking process.
So the next time trying this out the casserole dish was dragged out of the back of the cupboard. Wipe around the inside with oil and sprinkle flour/semolina over the base and put to heat up in the oven when it’s turned on. Place the bread inside and bake, remove the lid after 20 minutes.
More rise and an altogether lighter looking loaf. This time the eggs were omitted and a dash more milk added for something a little more everyday, A lovely, chewy, tasty bread!
So – no knead bread baked in a Dutch Oven – it’s the way forward.