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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Almost No-Knead Bread

Or beer bread, as we often refer to it. It's a crusty, chewy bread that I thought was only available from bakeries. See the wikipedia entry for a brief history of no-knead bread. The Cook's Illustrated version adds vinegar and beer, which provides a lovely yeasty taste. (CI says that a mild non-alcoholic lager works, too.) I use an enameled cast iron Dutch oven and an All-Clad Dutch oven for baking--something similar is necessary for the bread's texture and crust. I can't bear to make only one loaf. It's gone too fast otherwise! 


Almost No-Knead Bread

Source: Cook's Illustrated

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces), plus additional for dusting work surface
1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (7 ounces), at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mild-flavored lager (3 ounces)
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.

Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.

Adjust oven rack to lowest position. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, ½-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Once oven has reached 425 degrees, bake bread for 30 minutes.

Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

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