Almost No-Knead Bread (revisited)

I first wrote about Mark Bittman’s no-knead bread recipe more than two years ago. Here’s the version I’ve been making for the last year or so . . . this version incorporates wheat flour and takes about 8 hours for the first rising (as opposed to 18-24) — so you can put it on in the morning and bake it in the evening when you come home. I like to say that it’s easier that going out and buying a loaf of bread (and much more delicious).

In a bowl, combine:
3 1/2 c. white all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. wheat all-purpose flour
1/2 t. active dry yeast
1 T. salt

Mix in:
2 1/2 – 2 3/4 c. water

Mixture should be slightly wetter than regular bread dough (just a bit too wet to knead with your hand, but not shaggy) and thoroughly mixed.

Cover your bowl with a plate and let set in a warm(ish) place for about 8 hours, until the mixture becomes flat on top and has little bubbles.

Turn the mixture onto a floured bread board and knead for about a minute. Add flour if needed so that you can manipulate the dough and so it doesn’t stick to your fingers easily.

Select a pan with rounded edges (to help your dough take shape). Lay a cotton cloth (dish towel, rag, or other tightly woven cloth, not cheesecloth) in the pan and sprinkle with corn flour. Set the kneaded dough smooth-side up in the pan and sprinkle more corn flour on the top of your dough, then cover the top of the bread with the corners of your cloth and let it set for about 2 hours, until springy.

Pre-heat a 4-5 quart cast iron pot with lid in the oven at 450 degrees. When the oven is hot, carefully remove the pot from the oven and turn the bread dough over into it. Bake covered for 30 minutes. At 30 minutes, remove the top and bake for a few more minutes uncovered if you wish. Remove bread from oven and let cool on a rack. Enjoy!


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Anadama version: 4 c. white flour, 1 c. wheat and 1 c. cornmeal (I use coarse meal). 1/3 c. oil and 1/3 c. molasses (combine with warm water), about 2.5 c. in total, as needed. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes (or longer, as needed). Anadama tends to burn a bit more on the bottom than the regular bread.

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These days, I’ve made a few MORE modifications:

Have started to weigh the ingredients, as I’ve noticed radical variations in the flour volumes when making a big bread. This is a for a big loaf with some whole wheat:

600 g white flour
260 g whole wheat flour
690 g water
1/2 t. yeast
16 g salt

Since I was getting a lot of brown on the bottom of my loaf I now bake at 425 degrees instead of 450 for 40 minutes (rather than 30) because of the temp difference, and because it’s such a big loaf.

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