Are you baking anything lately?
Surely there’s a place in heaven for bakers who have worked out the kinks of no-knead bread baking and share their secrets. No-knead recipes are yeasty home-baked goodness — but take a fraction of the usual time and effort. For me, less time baking means more time to work on my novels.
Bread genius and angel to home bakers that Jim Lahey, with his book, “My Bread” is, he does the other no-knead cookbooks one better. Forget any need for pizza stones and steam via his simple solution: baking in covered pots.
Recipes are starting points to be fiddled with after my first try, not instructions to be rigorously followed. Lahey encourages experimentation. All his recipes are all easy and all of them accommodate deviations.
These two loaves are loose interpretations of his “Pane Integrale/Whole Wheat Bread,” that I baked for last Sunday’s brunch. The smaller was a whole recipe. The larger, a double recipe that needed a few extra minutes to bake thoroughly.
Lahey recommends two hours minimum for the dough to rise. Longer produces more patience fermentation, which all the tastier. I’ve let my dough sit for 24 hours. Longer-rise loaves steam with tangy sourdough excellence.
It’s great to be able to experiment with ingredients (I added oatmeal to the smaller loaf, more whole wheat flour and less white flour to both of them), and still end up with something scrumptious.
Rather than the pots and Dutch ovens Lahey uses, I use crock pots. Of course, not the electric part. That way, I don’t ruining yet another non-heat-resistant handle.
Lining the pot with parchment paper makes for easier extraction. Moreover, the paper gives the loaves intriguing creases.
These loaves are dense and crusty. In the interest of not squashing them when I slice them, I often use an electric carving knife, then use scissors for the final bit of cutting.
Dough, same as baked bread, can be refrigerated for at least a week. Allow it to thaw to room temperature before baking.
Non-book note: Initially, when baked at Lahey’s recommended 475º, my oven emitted a metallic odor. An appliance repairman set my worries to rest. He advised running the oven at 500º for a couple of hours. Ever since, there’s been no problem.
This was from a review I wrote for Jeyran’s blog.