Thursday, November 19, 2009

Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread


Believe it or not, I made this . . .

I have been meaning to write about Jim Lahey's no-knead bread for some months, but now he has put out a book describing the method in beautifully illustrated detail, so my task is different. Lahey, who founded and runs the Sullivan Street Bakery, invented a virtually fool-proof method for baking crusty and delicious bread.

Essentially, you (i) mix together flour, water, salt and a tiny amount of yeast into a pretty sloppy mess, (ii) put it in a bowl for 12-18 (or more) hours until it more than doubles in volume, (iii) turn it out, fold it and place it on (and covered by) a dusted kitchen towel for about 2 hours, and (iv) bake it in a pre-heated very hot dutch oven, covered, for 30 minutes and then uncovered for 15-30 more minutes. Active work is about five minutes, although the process takes nearly a day.


. . . and this.

I have made this bread several times and it really is great. There is a huge amount of discussion on the Internet among the large community of bread bakers, including lots of useful insight and variations. Now, though, Lahey has put out My Bread, a lovely book that tells you everything you want to know about his method, and gives recipes for many breads using the same (or a similar) method, including whole wheat loaves, ciabatta, baguettes, flavored breads and pizza. I highly recommend this book. Pictured above and below are my first and tries based on Lahey's actual recipe from the book. The second is a really fantastic loaf of bread, crusty with just the right amount of bitterness.

Bobby Jay

11 comments:

Piglet said...

Yummy Yummy--I can see where making your own bread could be habit forming!

Anonymous said...

It also tastes really good!

Gary Levine said...

Hi Bob,
I just ordered the book.
Gary

Amy Bandolik said...

Cool stuff. Thanks for this! Amy

Jeff Haddow said...

Just stayed with a friend in London who made no-knead spelt bread. We just bought some spelt flour today. Will try it tonight.

Bobby Jay said...

Hi, Jeff.

That's excellent. Let us know how it turns out.

Gary Levine said...

Hi Bob,

We just made our first loaf of "No-Knead Bread". It looks great! I will let you know how it tastes.

Gary Levine said...

Hi Bob,

I just cut a slice with butter. It came out fantastic!! Thanks again for the tip.

Suzette said...

do you think it would work with gluten-free flour? or am i just being ridiculous? also, i'm wondering if you've ever made a croissant???

Bobby Jay said...

Hi, Suzette.

First, Lahey's bread recipe will definitely NOT work with gluten free bread. The whole deal is about structuring the gluten to make the perfect bread.

Second, I made croissants 30 years ago while living in Paris. Although I was able to make puff pastry, the addition of yeast to the mix makes the job infinitely more difficult. The first batch were like pretzels; the second smelled and tasted like yeast. I concluded that I might as well just enjoy the ones made by the baker in the ground floor of our building.

Paul Haas said...

boo and boo...(this is suzette, btw)