An occasional journal of the Life of Reilly

Sunday, December 10, 2006

No Knead Needed



It was not my intent to post another blog about bread so soon, but this in this case it is justified. Over the last few weeks the food world, and especially in cyberspace amongst food bloggers, has been abuzz about an article, recipe and video published in the New York Times by Mark Bittman. In this article he explains a technique for making bread of a quality equivalent to those produced by fine professional bakers with very expensive, steam-injected ovens. And it requires no kneading. Too good to be true? Based on the testimonials by various bloggers and comments submitted by their followers, it sure does seem to be true. I had to give it a whirl.

Friday night I mixed the dough, and it sat for the next 18 hours fermenting on a high shelf where it was warm. Since the article has been out for a while, there was a follow-up article with more information, and I followed the directions accordingly. The recipe’s claim was that it was “no-fail”, although some bakers struggled with their first batches.

The recipe calls for a five to six quart covered baking dish, but I do not own anything that large. I used a lovely hand-thrown ceramic casserole dish, a wedding gift (thanks, Joe and Peggy) that has been sadly underutilized in the past few years – we would never get home early enough when we worked to bake a casserole for dinner. The capacity of this dish is only about three quarts, but it was ideal. When I opened the lid after it baked for the initial 30 minutes, the sight of the rounded loaf with a couple of fissure cracks across the top assured me it was near perfection.

John and I consumed half the loaf along with wine and bowls of ribollita. The crust crackled and shattered, just like it should, and yet the inside was chewy and tender and moist. And lucky us, there are leftovers for dinner tonight…mmmm.
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