No knead bread, where have you been these past bread-baking-dough-kneading-sourdough-watching years? If I had known about you, chances are I wouldn't have come very far in my baking journey. Why would I? You're so perfect; so crusty, so light, so airy. So tasty, and you require so little work!
I know I'm a little late to the game to comment on no-knead bread. After all, it's been done over and over, and I always read about it, and figured yes, I'll get to it at some point, but what's the rush? How good could it possibly be? How could it really compare to this lovely sourdough that I carefully fed and then made a dough with which I kneaded for 15 minutes and then babysat and folded every hour during the better part of my day and then finally baked with the right amount of ice cubes to produce steam in a piping hot oven? Well it turns out, it compares surprisingly well. A little too well really for my taste. Because I enjoy lengthy baking processes and interesting breads, and it kind of bums me out a bit, that this quality can be achieved so easily, without barely any effort whatsoever.
I made my first loaf of no knead bread when I was visiting Sweden a few weeks ago. I wanted to bake something, and my dad didn't have a mixer. Not really feeling like kneading by hand, I figured I might as well give that no-knead method a try, that I've heard so much about. So I mixed the dough, let it rise over night and put it in the fridge when the dough was developed, so that I could bake it when it fit our schedule. I found an old cast iron pot in the kitchen (oiled it up a bit since it needed to be seasoned) and baked the bread. And oh my, did it turn out good!
We brought it out with us for an afternoon trip with the boat, and it made for a lovely picnic. Perfect bring-along bread! Perfect with butter, shrimp, caviar (and a glass of Champagne!)
So, when I went to see my mom, I baked it again thinking last time might have been a fluke, and surely it couldn't be this easy to bake that good a bread. Well, apparently it is, because it was perfect that time as well.
I came back home, and one of the first things I did was to put my new bread basket to work. And while you don't get that gorgeous ring-design that this basket can produce on other breads when the dough rise longer in the basket, it still worked great.
Also, I have now baked this bread in two different cast iron pots, one seasoned and one enameled. It doesn't really make much of a difference in terms of the final result, however I do prefer to use my enameled cast iron pot (which is a Lodge pot by the way and I love it so much!), because then there is no smoke when heating up the pot in the hot oven.
Another thing that's really neat when using the technique of baking a bread inside a cast iron pot with a lid is that you don't need to produce any steam, since the pot provides the perfect moist environment anyway. In other words, there are no ice cubes to mess around with!
So, if I haven't convinced you at this point let me say this: please try this. Even if you're not a baker, and especially if you feel intimidated by the baking process, try this. It's so simple, and it turns out so good. You'll definitely impress anyone who gets a taste of this lovely bread, and it's perfect on it's own with some butter or dipped in olive oil, or you could make wonderful sandwiches. Either way, it's beyond good. And just a little too easy for my taste. But that's a good thing, right?
Recipe of Crusty No Knead Bread Baked in Cast Iron Pot available at The Culinary Review.