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No-Knead Bread

I've been experimenting lately with the concept of making bread without the need to knead.  It's an amalgam of ideas taken from Jim Lahey's process and the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day concept.  With the basic dough, I can make great sourdough style breads, flatbreads, pizza, English muffins etc. mostly even without adjusting the dough, just the process of preparing the dough for baking.

Here's what you need by way of equipment:
Utensils needed - perhaps not colour
coordinated, but it looks good
  • 5-6 litre lidded plastic container that will easily fit in your fridge
  • set of scales - this is a must
  • a sturdy stirring stick of some sort (nice alliteration)
  • teaspoon measure
  • a medium size bowl
  • maybe a measuring jug as well
  • dutch oven for baking

Ingredients for your first batch:

  • 800 ml or gms of filtered water
  • 1 kg bakers flour
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast - I use instant
  • 1 tsp salt
Note: this is a very wet dough that will make 2 loaves.  For those who are interested, I've aimed for 80% hydration but you could cut the water back to 750 mls for a less wet version if you prefer.  I really recommend that you persevere with the wet dough for best results even though handling the dough can be a bit challenging.  I'll explain how I shape it later.

Mixing your first batch:

  1. Pour the water into the plastic container.
  2. Measure out the flour, salt and yeast into the bowl and stir to combine
  3. Tip the flour mix into the plastic container and mix until all the dry ingredients are wet.
  4. Cover but not tightly - I lift one corner of my lid.
  5. Note the level of the mix in the container and place in a warmish spot - aim for an ambient temperature of around 20 degrees Celsius so place the container somewhere in your house that is warm but not above 30 degrees.
From this.....

To this in an hour or two

Top view showing lovely bubbles

Gluten strands well developed.  The dough has a gloopy texture.

The dough will take about an hour to rise - maybe a bit more if your house is cool.  At this point, you could use the dough to bake, but it's best to place it in your fridge to use as you need over the next week.  Don't use it all. The longer the dough sits in your fridge, the better it becomes.  The gluten continues to develop slowly and the dough starts to ferment, giving it a lovely sourdough taste and texture.

I grab a handful (literally) of dough which is enough for one serve, and make flat bread or pizza as I need it.  You can shape an artisan style boule loaf and bake it in a dutch oven - process described later - or prepare a torpedo, focaccia or ciabatta style bread.

That's it.  How basic is that!

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