Following the success of my Easy Sandwich Bread, my confidence level went up a tiny notch and I decided to give this No-knead crusty artisan bread a go. So what is artisan bread? To summarize, it is bread made with the most natural ingredients, long fermentation process to optimize the dough and baking under optimum condition to obtain the best result of the finished product. (source: Fresh from the oven by Food & Travel Magazine)
When I saw the No-knead description, I was immediately sold. Believe it or not, I’m still trying overcome the fear of kneading dough for 10 mins with my bare hands. And no, I don’t have a bread machine. There is really not much arm muscle strength involved at all, maybe only when I was transporting my cast iron pot into the oven. The recipe requires the use of Dutch oven (I used a 5-quart size cast iron pot) but if you do not have it, fret not. You could use an oven safe dish with a lid, Pyrex baking dish covered tightly with aluminum foil, stainless steel pot with a lid.
While proofing the dough, it was hard for me to imagine that super sticky wet mess could be transformed into this gorgeous looking piece of crusty artisan bread. As of now, I’ve made two batches – original and the other with grated cheddar and dried herbs. Next time, I’ll try with dried cranberries with orange zest.
Oh, there’s one thing you should know – I made the mistake of slicing the bread when it was still warm. It was extremely difficult and I ended up burning myself, not to mention the texture was greatly affected as well, so please exercise a little patience and wait for the bread to cool completely before slicing.
3 cups (384 g) all-purpose / plain flour
1 tsp instant yeast / active dry yeast
1 ½ tsp sea salt
1 ¼ cup (300 ml) lukewarm water (about 50°C/120°F)
2 tsp dried herbs
1 cup (250 g) grated cheese (I’m using red cheddar)
Recipe source: The Comfort of Cooking
In a large bowl, add in flour, instant yeast, sea salt and optional ingredients if using. Use a whisk to mix well.
Pour in lukewarm warm and stir to combine. Do not over-mix the dough.
Cover with cling wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 8 – 24 hours.
Put your dutch oven (without lid) or baking dish into the oven and preheat at 450°F/220°C for 30 mins.
Meanwhile, take out the dough and set it on a floured surface. Shape it into a ball and cover loosely with cling wrap.
When 30 mins is up, take out the dutch oven carefully and put in the dough. It is not necessary to flour or grease the base of the dutch oven.
Put cover on the dutch oven and put back in the oven. Bake for 30 mins.
Remove lid and bake for another 7 – 15 mins. Different ovens vary so keep an eye on the browning.
Remove bread and let it cool before slicing. Important: Do not slice the bread when it is still hot or warm as it will ruin the texture and crustiness of the bread.