Sunday, February 26, 2012

GUEST POST: tim and denali's no-knead miracle bread!

the first time i met my friend tim, i started bugging him to guest post on the blog. while i've been known to casually mention to people that they should guest post, i'm pretty good about dropping the subject when i noticed a raised eyebrow or horrified expression. but not this time! mentioning the idea once turned into consistent pestering which may or may not have transformed into something potentially bordering on harassment. 

(sorry/thanks tim!). 

it's not that i enjoy being a pest. but after having the privilege of tasting his multiple renditions of his mom's no-knead bread, it was game over: i knew this recipe had to be shared with the world (aka all 12 of you faithful readers :)). 

this loaf is heavenly and conducive to bread-baking novices like myself. denali, tim's mom and this bread's ingenius inventor, has been so kind as to offer her contact information below the post. please direct all questions, comments, and endless praise to her! and now, take it away tim...

This recipe makes a terrific, rustic white bread. It involves a modicum of hands-on time a few times over a period of about 24 hours. You’ll need good quality white and whole-wheat flour (I use King Arthur brand), granulated yeast (often comes in packets. If you’re not sure if yours is still good, see proofing instructions below), salt, and a Dutch oven. This recipe is designed for a 3.5 quart capacity, but don’t try to make it in a saucepan; only a heavy cast-iron or thick ceramic pot will hold up to the sustained high temperatures. Le Creuset makes the nicest ones, Emile Henry’s are very good, but the one you buy from the thrift store/yard sale down the street for $5 is the best. You will also need some good oven mitts.

This recipe is timed for people with day jobs. Feel free to start it in the morning or mid-day and follow the steps in order. You can give or take a couple of hours between steps; the timing is not precise. On the other hand, do measure the ingredients carefully, as small differences in water or flour will yield a noticeably different loaf. Precision with oven temperature is also important.

Denali Delmar developed this recipe. She offers group lessons in New England; contact her (phone&email below) for more information.

Step one:  (evening) Mix stuff!
Whisk together the following ingredients in this order: 
2 cups lukewarm or cool water
1 & 1/3 cups white flour (bread or all-purpose flour)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon yeast (granulated – NOT rapid rise)

It should look something like this after you whisk it. Cover tightly & set aside (at room temperature).
Step two:  (next morning) Add more! Your dough will look like this after working all night (while you were asleep!):
Add & mix thoroughly with spatula:

2 teaspoons of salt
2 cups white flour (whatever you used in Step 1) 
 It should like something like this after mixing:
Cover tightly & set aside at room temp. Use a large enough bowl so that dough does not rise to touch covering.

Step three:  (afternoon or evening) Bake it!

This is gonna be hot, kids, so be careful.

Remove all racks from oven except the lowest one, on which you’ll preheat your Dutch oven & bake the bread. Your dough should have risen to look like this:
Preheat oven to 450°F. Put in Dutch oven and cover, side-by-side. Preheat for 30 minutes.

Spray hot pan with weber grill spray (other spray grease won't do!). Carefully roll dough into pan using dampened rubber spatula. Cover pan with hot cover, and bake covered 30 minutes at 425°.

Uncover & continue baking at 425° for 15 minutes, till nicely browned. Remove from pan & cool on rack. Cool thoroughly before eating! Bread continues to bake for a while.

Once it’s cool, cut into it and check out the beautiful crumb.
Other notes:

·      Yeast – Pay attention to shelf-life.  To proof the yeast (prove it’s still alive) place 1 tsp yeast & 1 tsp sugar in ¼ cup warm (not real hot) water & mix thoroughly.  Place in sink.  In 10 minutes it should foam way up, proving it’s still alive.  If it doesn’t foam up, the yeast is dead, so throw it out and get some fresh yeast.  I’ve used yeast more than a year past the expired date and it’s been good, but do proof it if you have any doubts.  I always use a heaping ¼ teaspoon when measuring the yeast. 

·      Clean up – Fill dough bowl with cool or luke-warm water immediately after emptying it.  After it soaks for a while, use your hand to rub off the dough sticking to the sides.  This is the best way to clean the bowl, because if you use a brush, sponge or cloth, it will become gummed up by the gluten in the dough that is sticking to sides of the mixing bowl.

·      Storing bread – This bread has no preservatives and will not keep indefinitely, which is good reason to gobble it up (and share it with friends).  To store it more than a few hours, let it cool thoroughly, then it place in a paper bag.  If it will not be all used up within 24 hours, put the paper bag in a plastic bag.  If you can’t use the whole loaf within a few days, you can give half away, or freeze all or part of the loaf.  To do so, put thoroughly cooled bread directly in a plastic bag, expel as much air as possible (you can suck most of the air out with a straw), put on a twist tie, then repeat with another bag & freeze.  To defrost, leave in bags & place on rack.  
·      Contact this recipe’s owner – Denali Delmar, Westford, MA    978-692-7282
I love hearing from my bread baking students.  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call me. Let me know about your experiments, successes, failures, discoveries, etc.; or hire me to teach a class to your friends, relatives, club or at your local library or church group; OR ask me to teach any teen group at a reduced rate.  (I’m such a proselytizer!  I think the whole world should be making bread.)