If you have followed me for some time or know me in real life then you know it’s no secret that I love food. When I’m not eating I am thinking about food. Constantly. I am one of those people that is planning their next meal before they have finished the one they are eating. Cookbooks, food magazines and cooking shows are my porn. It is somewhat surprising then that I had never baked a loaf of bread in my life up until a couple of weeks ago and now that I have I am kicking myself that I had not done it earlier.
Thinking about it I guess I just put it into the all to hard basket. Since becoming a 1950’s housewife I briefly flirted with the idea last winter and even went so far as researching bread makers but didn’t proceed. I thought if I purchased one it might just end up being a phase and the machine would end up in the appliance graveyard in a cupboard. Over the last few years, I have been bucking the consumer trend when it comes to my kitchen and the kitchen appliances and tools I own. I don’t own a Thermomix (Bellini here in Canada and the US), Instant Pot, electric slow cooker or Sous Vide. I’m sure they are all fab but at the end of the day they pretty much double up on other appliances I already own or cooking methods I already use.
Besides, I have this
It’s the Staub Cast Iron Cocotte or Dutch Oven and it is awesome. I remember the day I bought mine 12 years ago using my baby bonus. If you are following from outside Australia in 2001 the Australian government was faced with the dilemma of a population with a declining birth rate and an ageing population. In its wisdom, they decided to dangle a cash incentive to try and encourage people to have babies and in 2007 it was about $4000. We spent our money wisely on a new Miele dishwasher, a rug and a Staub Dutch Oven. I still remember to this day the dilemma I had with parting with the cash for the Staub because even on sale it was around $700 at the time. A quick google and the same model I have is around $600 at the moment in Australia and the equivalent is around $370 plus taxes here in Canada and even cheaper in the States. Sigh. Honestly, though it was well worth the investment. I own multiple cast iron cookware from various brands and this one is my favourite. The lid seals tightly, it has little drops hanging from the lid inside so the food is continuously self-basting.
Anyway, it turns out it is the perfect vessel to bake bread. I also seem to be the last person on earth to work out that baking bread doesn’t need to be hard. I presumed all bread needed to be kneaded, proofed, kneaded again and cooked in special cookware. It turns out it doesn’t. The internet is alive and well with this version of No-Knead Bread. Since discovering it and baking my first loaf I have found a trillion different versions of the same thing. It is so super easy that if you haven’t baked bread before then you should give it a try.
I hope you enjoy it as much as my hips are currently enjoying it.
No knead bread
- Cast Iron Dutch Oven with lid
- Baking paper
- 3 Cups All Purpose Flour I have experimented using anything from 2 cups to 3 cups without altering the other ingredients and have found I prefer about 2 1/2 cups.
- 1/4 teaspoon dry active yeast
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 1/2 Cups Warm water around 115 degrees Fahrenheit 110 to 118 is good. You don't want the water too hot or too cold.
- a little extra flour for the board or counter
- In a large bowl sift the flour, add the yeast and the salt and give it a quick whisk. Then add the water and use a spatula or wooden spoon to combine. It will be wet and sticky. Cover the bowl with glad wrap and set aside for 3 hours. I like to put it somewhere warm but not hot.
- Place a cast iron dutch oven that has a lid in the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 Fahrenheit. It is important that the dutch oven heats up in the oven prior to placing the bread in it. You will need a hot oven and the dutch oven acts as a vessel to steam the bread as it cooks.
- Dust a timber board or benchtop with flour and remove the dough from the bowl. Dust flour on the dough and using a spatula or bread scraper fold the dough back onto itself. You don't need to do this for long. A few folds. Dust a light dusting of flour on top of the dough.
- Place some baking paper in a bowl and put the dough on top of the paper in the bowl. At this stage, it should be in a round ball shape. You can let it sit in the bowl until the oven is preheated and the dutch oven is hot. Using a knife (Or razor blade if you have one) make some cuts across the top of the bread.
- Remove the dutch oven from the oven and life the dough on the baking paper into the dutch oven. Put on the lid and then place it in the oven for approx 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes remove the lid from the dutch and put it back into the oven for approx 10-15 minutes so the outside crust goes hard and brown. You want to keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn. I set an alarm and watch every 5 minutes.
- Pull it out of the oven and let it cool. Good luck trying to wait because it smells amazing.
My favourite Youtube version is here https://youtu.be/I0t8ZAhb8lQ
If you bake bread let me know about any recipes I should try. If you give this a go let me know what you think.