Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Everyday life

Looking out the window and waving hello and goodbye to the cars
Our dog, hoping for some attention
The best (and easiest) bread ever:
New York Times No-Knead Bread
(short version of the instructions below, with some commentary from me)

This bread is amazing. It tastes and feels like a sourdough--a chewy inside and a fantastically thick, crunchy crust--but without the need to keep feeding a starter. Mine always die, sooner or later. The secret? A tiny amount of yeast and 15-18 hours of rising/fermenting.

Okay, here's the way I do the bread. Mix together:
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1/4 tsp yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
The dough will be very, very sticky and almost runny. Cover the bowl with a plastic lid or saran wrap and let rise for 15-18 hours. Or more. It won't hurt it at all. I usually make mine some time in the afternoon or evening.

The next day, once the dough is full of bubbles on the top (it will look like bubbly pancake batter when it is being cooked), stir it a few times to deflate the bubbles. Grease a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle a generous amount of cornmeal top. Put the dough on top of the paper and place in a shallow, wide bowl (this helps the ball of dough go up and not just out when it rises). Sprinkle the top of the dough with a little more cornmeal to keep it from sticking, and cover with a towel.

Then neglect it for a while: 2-3 hours. I like letting it rise a long time, more than the recommended 2 hours, for extra pouffy-ness.

Put a large cast iron or ceramic dish (one with sides at least 4" tall and that has an oven-proof lid) in the oven at 450. I use a square ceramic dish about 9x9" and 5" tall. Once the dish is nice and hot (give it 20 minutes in the oven), lift the parchment paper & dough up and carefully place it into the dish. Be as gentle as possible so you don't deflate it.

Bake with the cover on for 35 minutes. Take the cover off and bake another 10 minutes.

Why does the bread taste so good and have such an amazingly crunchy crust? The long fermentation gives the dough more flavor and texture. Because the dough is very wet, and because you bake it in a covered pot, it "steams" the bread, replicating very fancy steam ovens that professional bakeries use.

This is really a ridiculously easy way to make bread, once you've done it a few times. The best part is you can forget about it, leave it for way too many hour when it's rising, and it still turns out perfectly almost every time. And no kneading is required!


  1. I am SOOOO glad you posted this recipe. I've wondered many times how to make it, but I never got around to asking. Thanks. We'll definitely be making this once we get moved and settled. I can't wait!!!!

  2. This bread is soooooo good!
    Thanks for posting the recipe - now I can just log on, look at adorable Zari, and make bread...yum.

  3. I can attest; this delicious!!!!

  4. Well I wouldn't want to be left out to concur! It's scrumptious. But I still have not managed to get around to baking a loaf myself. Maybe now I'll go for it at last!

  5. i love this recipe! i've tried it with varying proportions of whole wheat bread flour... and found 1/3 ww works fine but more than that is not so edible. would be curious if anyone knows how to make this work in a more whole grain fashion.

  6. My husband has been making this recipe from the NY Times and it really is delicious. I'm going to print out your tips, i know he will appreciate them. His bread did not rise as high as yours and was not as beautiful as your bread!


  7. I found that rising the dough in a shallow bowl, and then cooking it in a smaller-sized pan (so it has to rise up, rather than spread out) really helps get than nice, high shape.

  8. I make my bread with 100 per cent whole wheat flour and it is scrumptious. I do add a little sweetener for the yeast, though -- a tablespoon or so of either molasses or honey. Also, I add a quarter teaspoon of stevia, along with the other sweetener, the yeast really seems to like it.

  9. grainsofhope... are you using hard red or soft white or a combo? Inquiring minds wanna know! I have a heavy, enameled cast iron pot and will be making it in that. I've had this recipe for a long time, just never took the time to make it. I think I'll hit the kitchen...

  10. By the way... Zari is splendidly gorgeous! I assume those cheeks get eaten all the time? They sure look yummy!

  11. I second the request for more info on the wheat version...I have Golden 86 wheat (which I think is a soft white?) and a wheat grinder so I'd love to be able to use it with this recipe.

    Yes, Zari gets lots of kisses. I just can't get enough of her!

  12. where can i find the canadian butt cover?
    i need to have it.

  13. Unfortunately the Canadian diapers are one-of-a-kind--I made them!

  14. Okay Rixa... thanks for inspiring me. We just got done eating our first loaf of this bread and I can tell it's going to be a staple in our home! Very, very good. There is a great little Italian restaurant up the street here and we pay $5 for a loaf of their bread that looks and tastes just like this. I am sure I paid less than a dollar for all the ingredients! Next time I'll use whole wheat. Thanks again!

  15. Rixa-
    This is totally off topic from the bread but this is the first time I've read your blog and the earlier posts and I just have to vent. You claim at times that you don't want this blog to turn into a "hospital bashing" party but unfortunately it has. I've seen this so many times where people with your opinions are so set on their home births and natural ways that they fail to see any good at all in hospitals/obstetricians, etc. And trust me I am all for unmedicated births and as a nurse, I try to do everything I can to be a patient advocate in what they want and to help them achieve their goals.
    However, for example just the other night we had a mother deliver with her midwife in our hospital- it was her second baby, no risk factors, she had a vaginal delivery, no tears/episiotomy, etc. HOwever, for no reason we could ever find she started hemorrhaging after delivery and didn't stop. We gave her the usual medicines that help (pitocin, methergine, cytotec, etc) and unfortunately none of them worked. She kept losing blood and we ended up having to give her over four units of blood immediately just to keep her conscious and to keep her blood pressure from bottoming out too much. She ended up transferring to ICU where she got a total of 12 units of blood to keep her alive. she barely survived. IF this patient would have delivered at home or anywhere where these immediate actions couldn't have happened, she would have died- there is NO QUESTION about that. Even if an ambulance had been called- she would have died in the time it would have taken her to get to the hospital. She had no risk factors, no problems, nothing to suggest this might happen. And there wasn't anything done in the hospital that put her at greater risk for that. So when I see things like that happen, how can I possibly ever justify having a home birth??? Granted these things are rare, but if this patient were your sister, your mother, your friend- how would you feel then? Maybe if it did happen at home and she did die- everyone would turn the other way and say that it was "God's will". Where as if she would have died in the hospital it would have been "because of the hospital and something they did". See what I mean-if something bad happens in the hospital it's b/c of the "bad" ob/gyns, hospital protocols, nurses, etc. If something bad happens at a home birth, what is it called then? How come none of the bad outcomes are ever mentioned? I'll tell you why, because none of you want to hear about them and so you choose to ignore that side and focus only on the good of home birth and the bad of hospital, not vice versa.
    I could never home birth- I know too much... I've seen too much....
    And to be perfectly honest, I think it is somewhat selfish thing to do but if someone wants to do it- fine. I'm all for unmedicated births but think it's smart and less dangerous to have one in a hospital or birthing center.

  16. Rixa if you're at all interested in addressing this would you consider making it into a new post?

  17. No time right now...getting ready for the conference and trying to ward off an impending illness...but I'd appreciate posts from others!

  18. This bread turned out delicious but it was stuck to the bottom of my ceramic pan. Why? How do you keep it from sticking?

    Thanks for the tips :)

  19. I've never had a problem with sticking, but here are a few suggestions:
    - make sure pan is really hot; I leave it in the oven for around 15-20 minutes at 450 before I put the bread in
    - sprinkle a little cornmeal on the top of the dough (which turns into the bottom when you flip it into the pan)
    - or sprinkle some cornmeal onto the pan right before you put the bread in

  20. I made a whole wheat version of this using white wheat flour, and I just used about 2 1/4 c. of water instead. It turned out great, except I'd prefer a bit more salt.


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