Well, like I said, its getting closer and closer to feeling like full blown autumn. Yeah- it’s still warm, but it’s not hot. The breeze is awesome, and the humidity is low. But let’s be honest: even here in New York, you can have a Halloween that’s 80°+ degrees… with the trees turning orange and yellow. So “fall” comes no matter what the weather says. But the humidity has dropped drastically for the most part. The windows have been flung open, the curtains are blowing around and the A/C is no longer pumping 24 hours a day. At night, I need a robe or hoodie. And I love that. And the baking! Oh I’ve been baking like crazy. When I’m sad, frustrated, worried or stressed, I make things. I make crafts, cook, or can, or bake. And the fall is the perfect time to do it, since I won’t be sweating my ass off. So really if I’m gonna be stressed, this is the time to do it. And bread is comforting, so hello? Bread it is.
I love baking bread. But the problem is I have no patience, and I border on being a lazy baker. I HATE waiting for things to rise, but it’s worth it if I don’t have to spend my entire day kneading dough. Which is why I love to make Levain and no-knead bread like this. They’re really, really easy. I promise.
If you’ve ever wanted to bake bread but were afraid, or thought a bread machine is the easiest route, listen to me: MAKE. THIS. BREAD. Seriously, guys. I know you’re probably reading this thinking, “Nope. Newp. Noperz. I do not have time for that.” But that’s NOT TRUE! You do have time!
There’s no KNEAD for special equipment to make this no-knead bread. Get it? Ha. Yuk, yuk, yuk. All you need is a heavy pot with a lid; i.e. a Dutch oven or French oven, like Le Creuset, Emile Henry, Lodge, Staub or whatever you have. I think cast iron or enameled cast iron is best but in theory any heavy pot will do, and in any size from 4 – 7 quart (mine is 7.25 quarts) depending on if you halve the below recipe or make the entire thing. You can even halve it and use a larger pot; I’ve done so in the past and it’s been fine. Better to have the pot a bit larger than one that’s too small, though!
This bread is a rye; if you prefer a plain bread, try this version.
NO-KNEAD RYE BREAD (from My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work No-Knead Method, by Jim Lahey)
Makes one LARGE family size loaf, can be halved
- 1 1/2 cups rye flour
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 2/3 cups cool water
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- Olive oil
- 2 tablespoons anise seeds or caraway seeds (*OPTIONAL, I didn’t use)
- In a medium bowl, stir together the flours, salt, and yeast. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough, about 30 seconds. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size, 12-18 hours.
- When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface with flour. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece. Using lightly floured hands or a bowl scraper or spatula, lift the edges of the dough in toward the center. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round.
- Place a tea towel on your work surface and generously dust it with rye flour. Gently place the dough on the towel, seam side down. If the dough is tacky, dust the top lightly with rye flour. Fold the ends of the tea towel loosely over the dough to cover it and place it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1-2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost doubled. If you gently poke it with your finger, it should hold the impression. If it springs back, let it rise for another 15 minutes. Add the anise seeds or caraway seeds to the top of the bread, if desired.
- Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475° degrees F, with a rack in the lower third, and place a covered 4 – 7 quart (depending on size of your dough) heavy pot in the center of the rack.
- Using pot holders, carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven and uncover it. Unfold the tea towel and quickly but gently invert your dough into the pot, seam side up. (Use caution – the pot will be very hot- particularly if you’re using cast iron). Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep chestnut color but not burnt, 15-30 minutes more. Use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to carefully lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly.
I like to score the top with a razor or straight blade before baking, just because I like how it looks. There’s no scientific need to do it with this bread. But it looks pretty to make slashes or a tic/tac/toe design like the one above. I’m all about the aesthetics. If you want to do the same, after placing it in the pot, cut the top with a sharp blade or razor (clean!) in whatever design you want. I usually use a cross or X or the one done here. There are fancier ones, and ones that go with the shape of your bread as well. Be careful though- the pot is very hot!
The bread will sound hollow when thumped on the bottom when it’s done. But be careful doing that and please don’t burn yourself. Kthx.
This bread makes amazing sandwich & soup bread. You know what I mean- the kind of bread you can pile roast chicken leftovers or roast beef on and it won’t get soggy. The kind of bread you can dip in any soup- even goulash- and it’s just the bomb.com. It’s also excellent plain with some good salted butter. Or marmalade, or jam. But it’s also excellent with sharp white cheddar and a glass of red wine.
The key to this bread is the rise. You really have to just start it the day before. There are no shortcuts, but it’s WORTH IT. Do you know what a pain in the ass it is to knead bread? And yes, you can use a stand mixer with a dough hook, but that takes time too. And requires a stand mixer.
You need this bread in your baking arsenal, for sure. I always say my Le Creuset was the best investment I ever made for myself & my kitchen (other than Lola, but Jay purchased that for me), and everytime I bake this bread or the other no-knead bread, I’m reminded of that. Or when Jay makes his famous chicken soup, passed down to him from Grandma Dotty. Or when I roast a chicken or make brisket or goulash. You get the idea. A Dutch oven is a worthwhile investment. Buy a good one, take care of it and it’ll last you multiple lifetimes. If you can’t afford a full-price LC or Staub right off the bat, search in discount stores or outlets. You might be able to find some for a good price. Alternately, you can buy a cheaper brand’s version for the interim. It might not last as long but you’ll get your money’s worth while you save up for the big time.
Perfectly imperfect crusty top, dark brown bottom, soft and chewy inside. Exactly what you want in a bread.
Check out that steam! Love.
Don’t be scared to try baking bread! It’s so much easier than you think. However I do recommend you wait for the bread to cool completely before cutting…. *wink*