Tuesday, September 23, 2008

No knead Dutch Oven Bread a big hit at my house

I got a Dutch Oven because cast iron rocks, and I wanted to try my hand and real baked beans.

But as is the case with a new kitchen toy, I had to find some other uses for it.

Last year I got on a pizza dough kick, and was making it every weekend. I learned a lot about the process, and one of the things that I learned was that I really hate kneading, (I'll come back to that) and that I want to void the warranty on my oven (and probably my homeowners policy) by breaking the latch on my oven door so I can cook at 800 degrees using the cleaning cycle, but the wife thinks that's a very bad idea.

Back to kneading; I don't have a mixer. If you wanna get me one, that'd be great - but as of yet, any kneading I do has to be done by hand. I knew from pizza dough that kneading was one way to form gluten, but not the only way - you can also let time do the work for you if you're going for open crumb, chewy kinds of breads. So when I saw my man Alton Brown make a no-knead 'sourdough' (not really a sourdough at all) in his dutch oven I was intrigued.

I was searching for that recipe, in fact, when I stumbled on a very similar variation with a video.

Easy, cheesy, right? Well - yeah, pretty much. There's some things missing in the video that are important, like letting it sit for awhile after the loaf is formed, and I think Alton's temperature works better. But this recipe is very forgiving. I've let it ferment anywhere from 8 to 20 hours, used more and less water, used bread flour, AP flour and I eyeball salt and yeast. Always seems to make something edible.

I haven't found a way of doing it that doesn't make a mess in the kitchen, but that's a small price to pay for fresh bread that's this easy.

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