Monday, January 17, 2011

Almost No-Knead Bread

Really good, crusty, malty-flavored bread is my weakness. For the longest time, you could only get this type of bread from a bakery. Then Jim Lahey introduced a no-knead bread that was baked in a cast iron dutch oven, and that crusty, artisanal bread was no longer out of reach to the home baker.

Since I came across this technique, I knew I had to try it, but I had one problem. I didn't own a cast iron dutch oven. While I dreamt of the day that I'd own a Le Creuset enamel-coated dutch oven, it wasn't in my budget.

I did a little research and found that the Lodge 6-quart enameled dutch oven held up just as well at a fraction of the cost. It became even more cost effective when I could cash in some frequent flyer miles for an gift card that in turn covered the cost. Once it arrived I couldn't wait to try out Cook's Illustrated Almost No-Knead Bread recipe, since I hadn't had a chance to check out Lahey's book because it was on high demand at the library.

While this recipe is supposed to make it easier to make great bread at home by limiting the amount of kneading needed, it does require patience for that 8- to 18-hour slow rise. But that wait is so worth it. This bread comes out of the oven with a wonderful crust and a soft, chewy inside.

For this recipe alone I recommend that you get yourself a dutch oven if you don't have one.

I have since finally gotten my hands on a library copy of Jim Lahey's "My Bread." Unfortunately it happened at the peak of my baking marathon in December leading up to Christmas so I didn't get a chance to try out his recipes, but I plan to purchase the book in the near future. I can't wait to venture further in this bread making adventure.

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