Would you like to be able to make an artisan loaf of bread in your own house in less than 4 hours with no kneading and almost no effort? I knew you would!
This recipe was inspired by several things: (1) impatience; (2) dislike of kneading; (3) internet; and (4) Twitter. I am not a baker, and have very little patience for recipes that ask me to knead the dough for 15 minutes, then wait for 3-4 hours, then pound the dough and knead more, then wait for another 1-2 hours, then pound again and then bake (and don’t even start me on sourdough starter which is this magical thing that is handed down through generation and treasured… enough said!). It’s a lot of work and it’s not much fun, at least not for me.
But: I do love bread! And I love freshly baked bread which is easy to get your hands on in Serbia where I grew up, but almost impossible to find in the US where I live now. To try to fix this disconnect between wanting fresh bread and not wanting to spend ages making, it I bought a bread machine some time ago. Bread machines work well and they are really easy to use (see my bread machine bread recipes here and here). However, the loafs you get are very much of an industrial looking kind, so if you are craving something more rustic and artisan the bread machine will not be able to help you – I will!
The recipe below came to me in a flash. I guess because of the COVID-19 pandemic that’s destroying the world at the moment mostly due to the lack of leadership and gross incompetence, there has been a major increase in random bread making videos and tutorials in my social media feeds. One of them showed how to make something called No-Knead Bread (and yes, this type of bread has it’s on Wikipedia page while many female scientists are not considered important enough to have one). That was intriguing enough – a bread that requires only 4-5 ingredients, is cooked in the Dutch oven and looks like something from a magazine? Sign me up!
What spurred me into action was a random tweet by Nigella Lawson that someone in my feed retweeted that said that using pasta water, instead of simply water, will make the bread have better texture and rise. Below is the recipe that combines the two – the quick no-knead bread strategy and the pasta water tip. Results will amaze you!
Quick No-Knead Artisan Bread
What you’ll need:
- 3 cups flour (all-purpose)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon instant quick-rise yeast
- 1 cup pasta water (when left in the fridge, pasta water can gel because it has a lot of starch. Don’t worry about it – measure 1 cup and carry on)
- 3/4 cup water
- extra flour for dusting
What you’ll do:
- In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, salt and yeast.
- Measure out pasta water and water and combine into a microwave safe bowl. Heat up for about 1 minute or until water feels hot to touch. (I take a drop or two of water out using a spoon and then drip it onto the inside of my wrist – same way you would check the temperature of the baby’s bottle.) The water should be hot, but not boiling.
- Pour the liquid into the bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until everything is well combined. The dough will be sticky, but don’t worry about it. Cover with a plastic wrap and let stand on the kitchen counter for 3-4 hours.
- After about 3-4 hours, take the dough out onto your working surface. I line my kitchen counter with some wax paper, which helps with the clean up. The dough should have doubled in volume and be ready to be transferred into a large Dutch oven lined with some parchment paper (or another oven-safe heavy pot with a lid). Dust your working surface with some flour, as well as your hands and sides of your bowl. The dough will be soft and sticky so you will need to use flour to help you scoop the dough out onto your working surface. Use your hands to form a nice round loaf – this is a no-knead bread, so don’t knead! Just move the dough gently into a rounded shape.
- Place the dough into the Dutch oven and cover with a moist kitchen towel and let stand while the oven pre-heats. (Please note that some of the recipes I’ve seen suggest that you preheat the Dutch oven with the lid on while you leave your loaf to rise covered with a moist kitchen towel on your working surface. This may make the transfer of the loaf into a really hot Dutch oven tricky and potentially dangerous, so I recommend placing the dough into the cold pot and skipping the pot preheating step).
- Preheat the oven to 450 F (230 C), with a rack place in the middle 1/3 of the oven (more of less).
- Once preheated, remove the moist towel from your Dutch oven, put the lid on and place the pot into the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes covered, then remove the lid and finish baking the bread uncovered for 15 minutes. This will help crisp up the top.
- Take the loaf out of the Dutch oven and onto a cutting board. Let the bread cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting – this is a very hot loaf and even after 30 minutes the inside may still be warm. Enjoy!!!
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