No-knead bread

The easiest bread ever.

Ingredients

500 gr Flour, bread
1/2 tspYeast, instant
375gr / 1.5 cupsWater, warm
1 tspSalt, fine

Method

Add yeast, salt and flour into a bowl and stir together.

Make a well in the middle and add the warm water. Test the water using your finger – you shouldn’t feel that it is either hot or cold.

Wet your hand and mix together. Or stir together with a spoon.

Ensure that all the flour is incorporated into the water and is damp. There should be no dry flour visible. The dough will be shaggy and not smooth. There is no need to knead it, just stir together for a minute or 2.

If I want to make soft rolls or bread, I will make sure that the dough is a bit wet and tacky but still coming together in a ball – this might mean adding a bit more water.

Alternatively, if I want to make crusty bread, I’ll make the dough so that it’s pliable but not sticky by possibly adding a bit more flour.

Oil a clean bowl and place dough in it. Cover loosely with clingfilm and set aside for at least 3 hours or up to 12 hours to rise.

If you want to make a more “sourdough” type bread, add COLD water, cover and set aside for 12-18 hours.

When setting aside to rise for the first time, this doesn’t have to be a warm place. On a counter top will do just fine.

You can also mix the dough with cold water and leave it to rise in the fridge, covered for up to 4 days (a closed ziplock bag that has been oiled works well for this).

Trust me, this works.

When you are ready, flour your counter and gently shape the dough into whatever shape you fancy making sure that the seam side or join(s) is on the bottom and place onto greaseproof paper and into an ovenproof loaf pan, bread pan or a shaped basket. Remember please don’t knead it. You want to try and retain some of the air in at this stage, so please be gentle.

Cover very loosely with greased or oiled clingfilm and set aside for 1 hour.

When ready to bake, remove clingfilm, sprinkle directly with flour and slash the top if you want to – I often don’t – or gently brush with oil or egg wash if you want to stick seeds to the top.

For soft bread or rolls: Preheat oven to 170degC, as soon as it’s ready, place the rolls/loaf inside and bake for 35 minutes for rolls or 35-40 minutes for a loaf. This will all depend on how big your rolls are or how hot your oven gets but generally these times will work.

For a really crusty loaf, place a cast iron pot with lid (dutch oven or Le Creuset) into the cold oven and turn the heat to the hottest setting (220degC or 230degC). Leave to come to temperature for 1 hour. Do this as soon as you have shaped your dough.

Move dough on greaseproof, now risen, into pot. Quickly replace the lid (please take care as this gets incredibly hot) and return to oven for 40 minutes. Remove lid and leave loaf in oven for a further 15 minutes to brown. I sometimes take the loaf out of the pot and leave it to brown directly on the oven rack.

Remove from oven and check for hollow noise when you tap the bread underneath – this only works for crusty bread.

Set aside on a rack and listen to the crust crackling. Try to wait for 20 minutes for the bread to cool slightly before cutting.

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