Sunday, January 18, 2009

Perfect Rustic Bread


I have made the revolutionary no-knead bread recipe detailed in The New York Times back in 2006 several times. A quick whisking of flour, salt, water, and a teeny bit of yeast rests for 18 hours, is never kneaded, and is cooked in the oven in a preheated heavy iron pot such as a Le Creuset.

Not too long ago, an updated, speedier recipe was introduced. Initially I was resistant to the idea that I could make the same deliciously crusty, rustic loaf in a much smaller amount of time. And besides, why would I want to? The 18 hours that the dough bubbled on my countertop was of no consequence to me.

This all changed one sad, desperate morning. After I had whisked together the ingredients the night before, I poured out the dough onto my floured countertop for it to rest for an hour before I baked it. I was looking forward to presenting the perfect loaf to my dinner guests later that evening. Suddenly, I heard a horrid sound coming from the kitchen and as I turned the corner I stared at my two normally adorable Labradors gulping down gobs of dough that had been 19 hours in the making. They were like two starved lions tearing apart a zebra carcass and within seconds, it was gone. I'm not going to lie, I cried about it a little to The Chef.

After the dogs spent a time-out in their kennels, I got to work on my second, speedier loaf. This one comes together in about 6 hours and really, the result was just as good as the original version. The exterior is a golden, crusty wonder with a pleasantly chewy, airy interior. It begs to be slathered in butter and, as I found out after having 4 glasses of wine too many, makes an excellent hangover-quenching grilled cheese sandwich the next day. I have no doubt any leftovers would also make very good french toast.

You can find the recipe for Speedier No-Knead Bread here.

Also, here are two other fantastic variations using the same, slow, no-knead method:

3 comments:

Eric M said...

Looks yummy! I'm trying it this weekend.

Now. Should I feel ashamed that I own none of your essential books? Sheesh. I suck.

Eric said...

What about "Almost No-Knead Bread" from Cook's Illustrated? Someone has made this (Sean? Eric M.? Erin?) and how does it differ from the New York Times' version?

Jacqui said...

Have read Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a day by Jeff Hertzberg, a Minnesotan. I love it , it makes bread making sooo easy.