This week, Felix wanted to pretend to sell bagels: He wanted to be the “hand that comes out of the [takeout] window.” (Which is when I realized we should curb the Tim Horton’s visits.) I suggested we make our own bagels, but quickly nipped that crazy idea in the bud after recognizing I was still trying to find time to replace the paper towels in the kitchen. What I did remember was the ridiculously easy “No-Knead Bread” recipe by Jim Lahey that was made famous by Mark Bittman in The New York Times.
Make this bread with your kids on the weekend or when guests come for dinner and people will be ohhhing and ahhhing all over themselves.
Whisk together 3 cups flour (AP or bread flour) with ¼ teaspoon instant yeast and 1¼ teaspoons salt in the bowl. Add 1½ cups water and stir with a spatula until a dough comes together (30-60 sec). Lightly grease a second medium bowl and transfer the dough. Cover and rest the dough for 12-14 hours at room temperature.
Lightly flour a work surface. Remove the dough from the bowl and fold it over once or twice. Let rest for 15 minutes on the work surface.
Shape the dough into a ball. Coat a clean, cotton tea towel generously with flour and place the dough ball, seam side down, on the towel. Lightly dust the dough with flour and cover with another towel. Allow to rise until doubled, 1-2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 450°F. You will bake the bread in a 6-8 quart oven-safe pot with a lid (such as a Le Creuset). Place the empty pot in the oven 30 minutes before baking.
Remove the hot pot from the oven. This is the trickiest part: Transfer your dough, seam-side up into the pot — BE CAREFUL! Try to just flip the dough inside using the tea towel; still, know that if it deforms as it goes in, it’s no big deal. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, remove the lid. The crust will be golden. Bake another 15 minutes. The crust will turn a rich, dark brown. Remove the loaf and cool on a rack.
Seriously, are you going to get something better at the bakery? And you don’t even have to leave the house. Except maybe to get extra butter.
RECIPE: No-Knead Bread (by Jim Lahey)
3 cups AP flour
1½ cups water
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoon salt
olive oil (for coating)
extra flour for dusting
Mix all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add water and mix with a spatula for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Lightly coat the inside of a second medium bowl with olive oil and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest 12 hours at room temperature.
Remove the dough from the bowl and fold once or twice. Let the dough rest 15 minutes on the work surface. Shape the dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel with flour; place the dough seam-side down on the towel and dust with flour. Cover the dough with a cotton towel and let rise 1-2 hours at room temperature, until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 450-500°F. Place the pot in the oven at least 30 minutes prior to baking to preheat. Once the dough has doubled in volume, remove the pot from the oven and place the dough in the pot, seam-side up. Cover with the lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake 15-30 minutes uncovered, until the loaf is nicely browned.
Sue Riedl is a Toronto-based food writer with a passion for cheese who writes a column called The Spread for The Globe and Mail. She loves to push stinky cheese on her 3-year-old.
by Sue Riedl