No knead bread recipes burst onto the home baking scene a few years ago, their popularity driven by the New York Times’ publication of Jim Lahey’s no-knead recipe and the cookbook Artisan Breads in 5 Minutes a Day, as well as Nancy Baggett’s recently published Kneadlessly Simple. (See Nancy’s remarks in the “comments” section below.) The basic, no-knead approach calls for the baker to stir up a relatively wet dough. The moisture of the high-hydration dough allows gluten to form on its own, without kneading, when provided with a long, long fermentation time (aka rising time). Lahey’s recipe uses very little yeast and a long rise at room temperature; the Artisan Breads method refrigerates the dough for up to a week. I made the Lahey recipe a few times; yes, it was easy, but the bread’s texture and taste weren’t so satisfying (to me, anyway).
Sure to extend the popularity of no knead baking are two forthcoming books: Lahey’s My Bread and Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day. King Arthur Flour jumped onto the bandwagon, too: KA’s fall catalog is filled with no-knead recipes, adapted from Artisan Breads in 5 Minutes a Day.
A few days ago, I whipped up a batch of no-knead baguette dough (recipe here, compliments of King Arthur), intrigued by the possibilities of a fresh baguette every few days. The flour, yeast, water, and salt are simply stirred together in a large container, fermented at room temp for 2 hours, then refrigerated (at least overnight, or up to a week).
Making it was as easy as falling out of a pirogue. But how would it taste? After 24 hours of fermentation, I pulled 14 ounces of dough from the refrigerated blob. It shaped easily after a short rest and rose quickly at 75-degree room temperature, resting on a piece of parchment paper. Baked for 35 minutes at 450 on the Big Green Egg, the baguette had a holey crumb, glossy and elastic (see it pictured at the top of this entry). Flavor-wise, it was unremarkable. Not as good as a commercial, French-bakery baguette, but better than the spongy, supermarket version.
If you’ve baked no knead bread, let me know how it turned out….