Tuesday, February 12, 2013
No-Knead French Bread
Have you ever made a recipe that has changed your life . . . or at least the way you look at food? Well this is one of those recipes for me. A few weeks ago I wanted to serve my Garlic & Herb Cheesy Bread but I didn't want to make the trip into town to buy some French bread. I found this recipe in our church cookbook, but I was skeptical because when I've made homemade French bread before I've been disappointed that it wasn't like what I can buy at the grocery store. My friend Kim is the one that submitted the recipe, so I knew it had to be good. I decided to go ahead and try it and I'm so glad I did! No longer does bread making have to mean hours of kneading and rising. In just about 1 1/2 hours you can have two (or three) loaves of French Bread that's just as good - or even better - than you can buy at the store.
Of course, I did change a couple things, but nothing too major. It's ridiculously easy. I'll show you how it's done.
First, put 3 cups of bread flour in a large mixing bowl. (The original recipe says just flour - AP flour - but I like the chew you get from using bread flour.)
To the flour, add 2 Tbs of fast-acting, instant or quick rise yeast. (This yeast is packed with vitamin C that allows it to rise instantly without any blooming.) The brand doesn't really matter, just the type.
3 Tbs of sugar is added.
and some salt. The original recipe says to add 1 Tbsp of salt, but I like to use the salted water from cooking potatoes or pasta to make my bread, so I don't add a full Tbsp of salt.
Then comes the HOT water. Kim says to add hot tap water, but I like to use water with more starch in it (like potato or pasta water) because it gives the bread a nice chewy texture. The water just needs to be over 105F and less than 120F. If the water is too hot it will kill the yeast, and that's not good.
Stir in the water and then add in 1/3 cup of veg. oil.
Mix everything together very well, until smooth.
The last step is to cover the dough with 3 cups more bread flour. DO NOT stir it in. Just put it on top, and leave it alone. (I leave my spoon in too. It makes things less messy later on.)
Cover the bowl and let it sit for 10 minutes.
When 10 minutes is up, it should look something like this.
Gently stir everything together.
When you've stirred it as much as you can, it will look something like this:
Cover it again, and come back in another 10 minutes. (You'll do this for a total of 5 times.)
After 10 minutes, this is your dough.
Stir again. When you've stirred all you can, then cover it and leave for another 10 minutes.
This is it after the 10 minutes.
Stir again. Cover and leave for another 10 minutes.
You're almost done! This is the dough after 40 minutes.
Stir one last time, making sure that all the flour is completely incorporated. Cover and leave for 10 more minutes.
After the last 10 minutes, this is it!
Cover a flat surface with a little flour. (I like to use my dad's old Tupperware mat that's used to roll out pie dough.)
Turn the dough out from the bowl and divide it in two (or three if you want smaller loaves.)
Take each half and press it out into a rectangle shape (about 9x13). You could use a rolling pin for this, but I'm all about saving dishes, so I just flatten it out with my hands.
Roll it up (I roll the long side to get a loaf that's over a foot long.)
When it's rolled it looks something like this:
Cut slits into the top of the loaf (this is just to make it look pretty).
When both loaves are formed and scored, I like to spray them with some non-stick cooking spray. This keeps the loaves moist while they rise for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, they have doubled in size and look like this:
They get baked @ 350F for 30 minutes until they are brown and hollow sounding when tapped.
They are very pretty.
I just had to take a couple of shots. After they cool, they are ready to eat just as they are, our you can turn them into something more. (Like Spinach Artichoke Bread, or Garlic & Herb Cheesy Bread - both recipes coming soon.) Enjoy!
Here's the recipe:
No-Knead French Bread
6 cups bread flour, divided
2 Tbsp quick rise yeast
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp salt (3/4 Tbsp if ising salted potato or pasta water)
2 1/2 cups HOT water (105-120F)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
non-stick cooking spray
In a large bowl, combine 3 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Add the water and mix well. Add the oil and stir until smooth. Add the remaining flour on top, but DO NOT stir. Cover and stir every 10 minutes (5 times) for 50 minutes total. After the 5th time, pour out onto a floured surface and divide into two (or three) equal pieces. Roll or press out each piece into a rectangle (about 9x13 size). Roll up on the long sides and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cut slits in the tops of the loaves and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Let rise 30 minutes, until doubled in size. Bake @ 350F for 30 minutes. Loaves should be brown and sound hollow when you tap them.