No Knead Bread and the one armed cook

One of my favourite things is making bread. I love the smell of it as it bakes and the

way the smell filters everywhere.

It’s when I bake bread that I feel that I am doing a good job of feeding the Bear.

Sometimes, it is just what I need to do to make up for any housewifely transgressions.

I’m a better baker than I am a housewife and he forgets my faults when he sees

a lovely fresh loaf.

I’d seen various people talk about The No-Knead Bread,  by Jim Lahey at the

Sullivan Street Bakery  in New York

 and found links to it in the New York Times by Mark Bittman – and thought

that I would give it a go.

Read those articles. Trust me, it works.

And it works well enough that we prefer it to any other bread we can buy here.

The plus point is that there is no kneading. A good enough reason in itself to

try it, but it will be especially useful this week.

Tomorrow I will be in hospital having an operation on my arm to repair a

damaged tendon and I will be unable to do anything much with it for some time.

I have a feeling things might get tricky……

Anyway, back to the bread. It takes time to do – 12 – 18 hours but the thing is,

it isn’t 12 -18 hours of work.

The yeast does the work…. very slowly. All you have to do is mix the dry

ingredients together, add water and then leave till the next day.

Then stick it in the oven. How easy is that?

Right then

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Get some decent bread flour

and some yeast

and some salt.

The recipe  uses American cups – most of us have cup measures in the house,

failing that, remember that American measures are based on volume,

not weight, so if you use, say a teacup,

remember to use the same measure throughout.

 Get a big bowl and measure into it 3 cups of the bread flour.

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Sprinkle over that a quarter teaspoon of dried yeast and

one and a half teaspoons of salt.

Stir them all together.

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See, easy so far, eh?

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Then add one and a half cups of water

(the original recipe says one and five eighths,

so put an extra spoonful in)

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Stir it together

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And then it looks like this. Rough and ready. Lumpy, even.

But it doesn’t matter!

You don’t have anything more to do other than cover it in cling film

and leave it to one side for 12 -18 hours or so.

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Because you use so little yeast it is very easy to digest –

none of this partially fermented stuff you get in shops.

This is a long slow rise……..

The next day, flour a board thoroughly and take a look  at your bowl.

The dough seems impossibly wet  and

people have been known to feel slightly panicked at this stage…

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That can’t be right, you are thinking……

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Look at it pulling… but is IS right. See those bubbles,

stretching and tearing?

They are going to transform this wet and sticky lump of dough into

the most delicious bread…

You have to tear it out of the bowl

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It is incredibly wet and sticky but don’t worry about that,

it is just how it should be.

Roll the messy lump in the flour and it magically

transforms itself into this lovely smooth ball.

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 Just roll… no kneading…..leave it for ten minutes or so,

covered in the clingfilm you took off the bowl and then…

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….dust a tea towel with flour, or, as I am using here, cornmeal (fine ground polenta)

I like cornmeal because it does give a light crunchiness to the crust and also

 because it looks so very pretty! 

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t got any, just use flour.

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See, a good dusting of whatever you are using and then wrap it

lightly in the tea towel

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Then just leave it for two hours to finish rising gently.

After one and a half hours, turn your oven on to just over 200 degrees C/ 392 degrees F

and put in your lidded casserole. You need a lid because it traps the steam

and helps turn the crust into the most delicious chewy gorgeousness…

and you need to get your pot hot. Very hot.

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Then, using oven gloves, (that pot will sizzle your fingers otherwise) get the pot out of the oven

and take the lid off…..then chuck in the dough.


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Still no kneading. Give the casserole a shake to settle the dough,

then put the lid back on and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.

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After half an hour, take the lid off and just look at that……

Then, back in the oven to finish off and get brown.

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And there you have it. Get it out of the oven  and leave it to cool.

I know that is hard because it really does smell gorgeous but

cooling is essential. 

That truly is the most delicious bread – all you have to do is give it time to make

itself. Even a one armed cook could make that.

Well, if a one armed cook had someone to get the pot out of the oven, that is.

15 thoughts on “No Knead Bread and the one armed cook”

  1. It certainly did. And it was eaten within the hour. 20 odd hours to make and gone just like that!! will do it again for sure.

  2. I did it… I made it, I was very lax on the times after it had rested for 20 odd hours. I’m quite impatient. But I didn’t get any stuck to the tea-towel which I was mightily impressed with. It made the most delicious bread – which I and my daughter who is 3 fought over – which is odd as neither of us like the crust normally!!!

  3. Well I did it! It turned out really well surprisingly and despite my reservations. I will make it again and I’d add a pic but i can’t work out how to! lol

  4. Umm.. neither can I… what I will do is start a new post called Lesley and put the picture on and then you can comment underneath! All posts like that will be archived under T.O.B. Cooks… anyway…. brilliant. Lesley! I knew you could do it!

  5. A friend of mine recommended this recipe to me because I have problems with regular bread upsetting my “tummy monster” (i.e. making my tummy swell and produce scary growling noises).

    This bread is absolutely fantastic for me, I can gorge myself on it and the tummy monster stays dormant!

    Thank you SO much for sharing the recipe, at last I can enjoy bread again!

  6. Hi Stef! Welcome to the site! I am so glad you like this… the reason for all the upsets people have with bread is that industrialisation, while it produces food faster, doesn’t give it enough time to develop. Yeast is a living organism and needs to work its magic… the gluten needs to be stretched properly and slowly. I know 18 hours is a long time but once you are in the swing of it you just set it away and bake the next day.
    The taste is so much better as well, isn’t it?

  7. Today’s the day – am going to try the Bread. Have not had luck in the past with anything using yeast. Did try the Ciabbata and it worked, but actual bread. Will let you know tomorrow. Also, gives me use of my Creuset Caserole, round and orange just like yours. A Wedding Gift – 37 years ago and still in good form so well worth the investment for anyone and I was not paid to say this, ha..ha.

  8. Lorraine, I swear to you that you will LOVE this – it doesn’t seem as if it could possibly work and the dough looks too wet… and the yeast is minimal.. and.. and… so many things! But it does work. Once you get into the swing of setting it away a day before you want it, you’ll find yourself doing it regularly.

  9. This really is fool proof! The hardest part is smelling it and having to wait for it to cool!

  10. Delicious! I tried it with spelt as i have an intolerance to wheat and barley. It was so good! Just add 3/4 teaspoon of yeast iso 1/4 because the spelt needs it to rise…

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