Friday, January 04, 2013

No-Knead Bread Adventures

Christmas and Hanukkah always bring joy to our house whether or not we are ready for it!  This season, I got the super bug.  What I thought was a brutal cold that my son brought home from daycare, turned out to be a trip the ER and a diagnosis of Broncitus, Strep, and Pnuemonia all in one. For serious.  I really didn't think I could get all of them at one time.  This was one of those times I really have to swallow some humble pie and admit that mommy genes alone could not defeat the plague that was festering inside of me.

My children bless there hearts have been locked inside all during winter break with a sick mother. They've been great boys really well behaved.  I knew I had to throw in the towel and go to the doctor when my eldest started making  meals for him and the younger one.  In a way, we were fortunate that this happened over the holidays.  We have so much wonderful family that spoils my children they didn't really want for much. They were very much entertained with all their new stuff.

By the end of the first day of my diagnosis, I could not be in bed.  Codeine be darned! So I whipped out my brand new cast iron dutch oven and put it to work.  I seasoned it the first day and also put together my first No-Knead dough to bake.  I was just chomping at the bits to do this.  Apparently, this is the easiest way one can actually have artisan style bread right out of their very own oven.  My first dough was a white bread and it turned out heavenly.  Really, I never ever would have thought something that wonderful could have come out of my own oven.  Of course I took pictures and facebooked about it.  If I'm not anything else, I am annoying about my accomplishments!  I really believe though, that my outward pride is really more shock that I could actually produce something like this.

My next home made invented recipe was a little more adventurous.  I decided to pick what I thought was organic whole wheat (translated to whole meal flour) and white flour, and this stuff called organic sour dough extract from the baking isle.  The German baking isle is pretty exciting.  All different kinds of flour I can play with.  I thought that I would write about my first adventure though.  For all the nay sayers out there, yes, I could just buy my bread here at the local bakery.  They do have very very good bread here.  HOWEVER and this is a big one for me, there is really something special about making it myself.  The smell, the time, the work, the mess.  Everything involved just makes eating the finished product that much more rewarding.  Now, I move away from my preachy self and list my recipe:

  • 350g wholemeal flour
  • 150g white flour
  • 10g salt
  • 9g yeast
  • 15g sourdough extract
  • 325-375ml warm water

    So, this fun youtube clip will help you visualize all the steps involved.  Thanks Margie!

  1. Mix ingredients until "shaggy".  More water or flour may need to be added for desired consistency.  Don't worry if it seems gloppy.  I swear, that's okay.
  2. Cover in the same mixing bowl over night (12-18 hours).  Covered with saran wrap or just a plate.
  3.  Turn out glop dough onto a floured surface
  4. flatten a little and then "fold over" twice
  5. Preheat oven with cast iron dutch oven inside to 450-475F (I set my oven to 225C)
  6. top with some flour and cover on the cutting board for 15-20 minutes
  7. Shape dough into a ball.  Lay a tea towel out and sprinkle a nice layer of corn meal on it.  Place ball of dough onto the towel, top dough with cornmeal, and fold the towel over the dough.  Let sit for another 15-20 minutes.
  8. By this time, your dutch oven should be piping hot. Carefully remove it from the oven and open the lid
  9. Sprinkle the inside of the dutch oven with corn meal. Open the tea towel and treating it like a hammock, flip the dough over into the dutch oven.
  10. Place the lid on and put the dutch oven back in the oven.
  11. Bake the dough covered for 30 minutes
  12. Remove the lid from the dutch oven and bake for another 15 minutes
  13. Now it's done....well, almost.  Place bread on the cooling rack for an hour....ya, I said an hour.  Try to hold back the drooling or urge to pick. 

    For my first experiment, this turned out really well.  I still am a little unsure as to what sourdough extract is. I tried talking to Uncle Google about it, but alas his answers were not very clear.  I'm a little perplexed. Is it just for flavor or does it serve a purpose to helping the bread rise?  Also, I have a feeling I probably used more yeast than I maybe needed to?  I would love love love feedback from someone out there in cyberspace!