Saturday, May 14, 2011

No-Knead French Boule

This no-knead bread is so easy and sooo good! As it rests in the fridge it develops a mild sourdough taste, so there is no need to keep a starter alive. This works best when baked in a cast iron dutch oven, but a pizza stone or cookie sheet will work, as well.

1 cup lukewarm water
1.5 tsp instant yeast
1.5 tsp salt
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. You may need to incorporate the last bit of flour with wet hands, but do not knead! The dough that results will be a relatively wet, sticky dough.This is exactly what you want. 
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (cut a hole in the center to allow gasses to escape) and let rise for about two hours, until the top of the dough begins to fall. 
  3. After the initial rise, refrigerate the dough for at least 3 hours or up to 12 days. 
  4. On baking day, remove dough from the fridge and dust the top with flour. Prepare your baking surface by dusting liberally with flour (I use a piece of baking parchment that I will later place inside the dutch oven).
  5. Take all of the dough and shape into a ball by stretching the top of the dough down to the bottom. Rotate the dough slightly and stretch the dough to the bottom again. Repeat until you get a nicely formed ball. Let rest on prepared surface for about 1 hour. 
  6. 15 minutes before baking time, preheat your oven to 450°F. If using a baking stone or dutch oven, preheat these inside the oven as well. Dust the surface of your loaf liberally with flour and slash a scallop, cross, or hatch pattern on the top.
  7. Time to bake! If you are using a dutch oven, bake with the lid on for 15 minutes, and then for another 15 minutes without the lid, or until it is as brown as you like. If you are using a pizza stone or cookie sheet, bake for 30 minutes or until crust is as brown as you like.
  8. Remove bread from oven and let cool on a wire cooling rack for 1 hour, if you can resist! 
Tip: If you don't use a dutch oven, you can get a similar crust by preheating a broiler tray in the oven and adding a cup of hot water when you put your bread in the oven. This will create steam, which gives that amazing crackling crust. Yum!

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