Homemade artisan bread even easier! My review of Jim Lahey’s “My Bread” (by da-AL)

A re-posting of a review I wrote for wonderful fellow blogger Jeyran.

"My Bread" by Jim Lahey book coverSurely there’s a place in heaven for bakers who have worked out the kinks of no-knead bread baking, the ones who share their secrets. No-knead recipes are yeasty home-baked goodness — within a fraction of the time.

Jim Lahey’s “My Bread” raised my no-knead loaves to Everest heights. Bread genius and angel to home bakers that he is, he does the rest of the no-knead cookbooks one better. He does away with the need for pizza stones and steam via his simple radical solution: baking in covered pots.

Recipes are for me starting points to be fiddled with after my first try, not destinations to be rigorously followed. Lahey’s recipes, all easy, forgive my deviations unconditionally. A straightforward writer, he encourages such experimentation!

2 loaves of no-knead breadThese two loaves are loose renditions of his “Pane Integrale/Whole Wheat Bread,” the ones he mouthwateringly illustrates and describes on pages 60-62. For brunch last Sunday, I baked them together. The smaller is a whole recipe. The larger one, a double recipe, needed a bit longer to bake thoroughly.

At the beginning of the book, Lahey discusses how long dough should be left to rise. Two hours is the minimum, yet more patience is rewarded with more fermentation. I’ve left my dough out for as long as 24 hours before baking. Every longer-rise loaf steams with tangy sourdough excellence.

Crock PotsAlong with messing with the ingredients (I added oatmeal to the smaller loaf, more whole wheat flour and less white flour to both of them) my personal innovation is to usually use crock pots in the oven, not the electric part of course, instead of other types of pots. That way, I don’t risk ruining yet another non-metal handle.

Whatever I use, I line with parchment paper for easier extraction. The paper embosses intriguing creases.

Parchment paper makes things easier
Parchment paper makes loaves slide out easier, plus it lends fun creases.
How to cut no-knead loaves
Scissors help with the last bit of slicing.

Forget about Wonder Bread or anything akin to grocery store texture. My loaves come out dense and crusty, a handmade delight to be experienced only by the truly fortunate. In the interest of not squashing the lofty goodness when I saw into each loaf, I use an electric carving knife that my mom gifted to my husband. To not risk mangling my already uneven slices, I use scissors for the final bit of cutting.

Dough, just like baked bread, can be refrigerated for a week or so. Freezing makes it last much longer, but allow it to thaw to room temperature before baking.

Non-book note: Initially, when baked at Lahey’s recommended 475º, my oven emitted an offensive metallic odor. An appliance repairman set my qualms to rest. He advised me to run the oven at 500º for a couple of hours. The oven has since been odor-free.2 loaves cooling in window

cut loafJeyran’s book review blog

27 thoughts on “Homemade artisan bread even easier! My review of Jim Lahey’s “My Bread” (by da-AL)

  1. Very interesting post, thank you Daal. As a breadmaker myself (gluten-free) I found it interesting. Personally I have moved away from an electric carving knife to an actual slicing machine. It seems to produce much better slices.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. These look delicious, I can just imagine them fresh and warm from the over with some butter on top! I’ve made some bread myself with okayish results but never as good as that made by my mother and grandmother. They however use fresh yeast which I think makes a huge difference. I’ll look out for the book! I need some tips!

    Liked by 2 people

    • near beginning of the book, the author talks a bit about how not using yeast is better — have not gone gone ‘yeast free’ but have cut way back & fermented longer with great results

      dear Annika, if I can make this, anyone can – my kneaded breads have always been disasters, but not so with these recipes. am terrible at following recipes anyway, so … well, hate to sound now like author is paying me … lets just leave it at how any no-knead bread recipe is worth a try – they’re easy enough to google

      would love to hear if you end up trying & how turns out for you

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Yummm one of the foods I could never do without is bread 🙂 I’ve never made it myself but would love to try making a dense loaf one day. I’ll check out the links you’ve suggested to Jeyran’s book blog. Thanks for the recommendation about the book and the other blog xx

    Liked by 3 people

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