I should subtitle this post Breadmaking for the frugal and/or lazy.
In an attempt (attempt!!) to cultivate healthier and more frugal habits, I have become increasingly interested in how to make more of my own food at home. I’ve been particularly obsessed with making bread recently… a beginner’s kind of bread, anyway, using this easy, no-knead recipe that became popular on the interweb a few months ago. It requires only FOUR INGREDIENTS (3c flour, 1/4 tsp yeast, 1 tsp salt, and 1 1/2 c water) and a baking vessel (heavy ceramic pot with lid). It is so easy: mix the ingredients together, let it sit for 12-20 hours (in most of my cases, I let it sit for 20-24), take it out and form the dough into ball, let it rest upside down in a towel (proofing) for 2 hours longer, and then bake. The hardest part of this recipe is waiting for this delicious, spongy, golden, crusty, beery bread to come out of the oven.
Here is a batch rising on the windowsill:
Overnight, the dough ball will grow to over twice of its original size, filling out most of the bowl — acquiring this amazing beery smell in the process. Here is another batch, in another bowl, after it has risen:
After this step, you plop it down onto a floured cutting board, and pull and fold it over itself a few times. See here:
After that, turn it upside down into a floured towel. Here it will sit for 2 hours more:
After the 2 hours has passed, pop it into a pre-heated heavy ceramic pot with a lid. Put in oven and bake for 30 minutes with the lid on, and then an additional 15 minutes with the lid off.
Here is what will come out — a nice, crusty loaf with a nice, soft, spongy, slightly chewy warm center (you can see how the outside is still dusted with flour):
Here is another loaf, with an accidental knob on top:
I have made three loaves so far (one as practice; one as a housewarming gift; another for a graduation party), with one more in the oven right now.
Note: I don’t have a proper dutch oven (what you are supposed to bake the bread in) so I just use a ceramic slow-cooker pot with a pie pan as the lid instead.
What direction to go in after this? I’m not sure… Maybe I could try adding herbs — Avalon Breads down the street makes a killer dill/scallion bread which would be awesome to be able to make (especially since I have a bunch of dill in my fridge — most of it allotted for potato soup… maybe I could spare some for some bread?). If I manage approximating that successfully, I will be sure to post it here.
Read an awesome, picture-filled post about no-knead bread on SteamyKitchen: No-Knead Bread: So Easy, a Four Year Old Can Make It, a post How to Add Flavor to No-Knead Bread on Chad Chandler’s site, or Homemade Bread: Cheap, Delicious, and Easier than you Think at the Simple Dollar.
You can also check out all of these reddit threads on no-knead bread — lots of stories and photos from other people who’ve tried it.