Wow, it felt good to COOK tonight (I made gumbo). I’d say it felt good to BAKE too, but let’s be clear this no-knead bread business is so amazingly simple, I can hardly call it baking. Who knew you could do so little work for such amazing bread? Ohhhh the bread.
We’ll start there with the bread because, well, its easy. I followed Macheesmo’s instructions for this sounds-too-good-to-be-true recipe. I put 4 cups of flour (half bread, half wheat), some salt, some yeast, and some water in a bowl and mixed it up. Then I lugged it upstairs to rise in Chris’ mom’s room where its nice and warm.
The entire process took me 5 minutes, including the time it took me to climb 2 flights of stairs. The dough then stayed upstairs for 18ish hours.
This morning, I brought my dough-baby downstairs, added some flour and wadded it into a ball-like shape in a dish towel. Amount of time required? 3 minutes. Total active time in bread-baking process? About 8 minutes.
I was supposed to let the dough rise again for just 2 hours but, due to some massive parking lot issues at Costco and a long brunch, my dough rose for closer to 5 hours I think.
And it totally didn’t matter. I turned the oven up to 500 degrees and and threw in my ceramic pot to heat up. After things got nice and toast, I popped my dough ball into said ceramic pot, put on the lid, and left it in the oven for 30 minutes while I gumbo-fied the kitchen. After 30 minutes, I took off the lid and let it bake a little longer while I battled some okra on the stove.
I took the bread out after 10 minutes and, let me tell you friends, I saw glory. A beautiful round loaf with a crackling-ly crisp crust. And the crumb! Oh the crumb was super moist and tender and light! Lighter than any wheat bread I’ve ever made. And that crust! Oh the crust had the perfect mix of toothyness and crunch. I’m not going to lie, it was some of the best bread I’ve ever eaten in DC, ever.
The best part?. It took absolutely no work. Unless you call turning on the oven work. Doing the dishes afterwards took more effort than the bread did. Smothering this delicious bread with gumbo and marmalade goodness (separately, I assure you) required more work than the actual mixing and baking process.
Now I’ll admit its hard to feel like some sort of great baker when the most challenging part of the process is removing the bread from the hot pot (I recommend just flipping the pot upside down and letting the bread fall to a clean countertop). Some might say it lacks artistry. Some might say you aren’t really baking. I say, what’s more important? Laborious craftsmanship or eating homemade, preservative-free whole wheat bread everyday instead of store-bought?
I value the latter more than the former, though I’m not sure how long my first loaf will last us. We ate A LOT of bread tonight. First we had it with gumbo (recipe coming tomorrow). and then for dessert we had more bread, generously topped with some kumquat marmalade Chris made a few months ago.
In case you were wondering, kumquat marmalade is also delicious. I don’t think we followed a recipe when we made it, just kumquats (skins on), sugar, cinnamon sticks and some ginger I think. Yum. Marmalade on fresh homemade, no work, bread = double yum.
Ah crusty bread, I’m so happy to have you back in my life for at least a few more weeks.