It quite often happens that I’ll be standing there in my pyjamas having washed my face and brushed my teeth, about to head upstairs to slumber land, when my beloved will suddenly say, “Can you make bread?”…and I’ll answer, “Sure”.
Now, at this point you might be thinking that I’m either (a) mad or (b) very mad.
Getting involved in the time consuming messy process of making bread just before bed? All that flour, all that complicated kneading not to mention waiting for the first rise, knocking back… then waiting for yet another second rise… JUST WHEN YOU ARE READY TO GO TO BED??
Sorry to disappoint but I’m not a domestic goddess,… a little mad, perhaps… but hey, it makes life more interesting.
The real truth is…actually, it takes about 2 minutes of my time after which I continue upstairs with my cup of chamomile tea to bed and dreamland.
Yes… it’s the biggest cheat since sliced bread… and yet, this method provides the best, most crusty, artisanal bread ever. The kind you might buy when on holiday in France, or at great expense in some really fancy farmers market.
I'll explain it all in detail below, but here's a short video I made to help you guys get the idea - as it really is one of those things that is simpler that it sounds... :-) Have a look. :-)
So, yes, it basically involves measuring 400 g flour (your choice - I’ve tried all kinds of mixtures and my most favorite is simply 100% spelt), a quarter teaspoon of yeast ( yes, you heard that right —- a quarter teaspoon… amazing huh?)… a dessert spoon of sea salt and… 300 ml and a little splash more of lukewarm water into a large bowl just before bedtime.
Stir it all around until you have a shaggy, wet dough.
Cover with a cloth or plastic clingfilm and leave in a cosy place over night.
We have underfloor heating so in the colder seasons I pop it on the floor… but you could put it in an airing cupboard or even leave it on your work bench.
This is not just an amazing recipe… but a very forgiving one too.
Fall asleep and think no more of your bread.
In the morning, on arising, perhaps in the moment when you shuffle into the kitchen to make a morning tea, you will discover your shaggy dough now is covered with tiny little air bubbles and a bit more liquid looking than the night before.
Switch on your oven to the highest temperature possible. (mine goes to 250 C).
Then, put your 'Le Crueset' (or equivalent) pot including lid into the oven. (1 minute of your time)
Put lots of flour on a board ( I use Italian semolina… it’s got this wonderful gritty texture and just works just the ticket) and pour your sticky wet mixture onto it.
Now, here a bread scraper does help… you simply pull and fold your sticky mess into a ball shape. (1 minute of your time)
Cover with a cloth.
Now, go off and have a shower or whatever you do in the morning.
After about half an hour, the oven will have fully heated and your pot will be a hot-hot pot.
Remove your pot from the oven with oven gloves and remove the lid carefully warning anyone in the vacinity that there’s a very hot pot lid on the stove. :-)
Scoop up the kind of flat mixture up as best you can and plonk into the hot pot. (2 minutes of your time)
Replace the lid and put back in the oven for half an hour.
After half an hour, go to the oven and remove the lid… you should have a lovely bread risen and most probably knocking his head on the top of the pot.
Remove the lid, turn the oven down to around 180.
And leave for around another 20 - 30 minutes to crisp up.
I usually remove it from the pot for the last 10 mins.
That’s it… the laziest bread ever… where time, air… and your oven do all the work!
Actually, this method has been around for a quite a few years now and is perhaps one of the most ‘blogged recipes’ like, ever. When I discovered it by accident, mentioned in a footnote in a printed cookery book on whole grains, it was already old hat the home baking world.
It’s usually referred to as ‘No-Knead Bread’ and the originator is Jim Layne from the New York Bakery.
However, I still meet people who ‘haven’t heard about it’. So I’m sharing it now.
Enjoy dear bread lovers ( I’m presuming there are still people out there who do eat bread??… now and then… at least?) ;-)
INGREDIENTS AND METHOD
- take 400 grams flour
- add 1 dessert spoon salt ( or less if you like things less salty)
- add a quarter teaspoon dried yeast
- mix dry ingredients around
- add 300 ml lukewarm water.
- stir but not too much. The water and flour should only be combined.
- cover with a cloth and leave in a warmish place overnight (around 10 hours) (I do mine just before bedtime)
- in the morning, put your oven on at 250 degrees C.
- put a heavy casserole dish with a high-heatproof lid into the oven ( I have a Le Cruesset pot 18 cm)
- in the meantime, pour out your mixture on a floured board. It will be a little wet, don't worry. It should have formed little bubbles overnight.
- pull into a kind of round shape, and cover and leave aside.
- wait until the oven is fully heated.
- take out the pot(carefully - it's going to be very hot)
- add the wet bread to the pot (it doesn't matter if it's a bit messy)
- put in oven for half an hour with the lid on ( very important)
- now, remove lid and put oven temperature down to around 180.
- leave for another 15 minutes to crisp.
- remove, allow to cool... enjoy!
That's it for today folks!
Until next time,