Sunday, November 9, 2008

Where's the bread already??

What happened to the No Knead Bread, you may ask?
Well, here it is!!

The whole episode turned out to be a Comedy of Errors. But to be fair, most of my cooking involves one mishap or another. (Don't worry, you'll read about it here, first.) So I'm not phased by it. Want to hear what happened?

I'd fully intended to start the bread on Thursday, as I wrote, but soon found out that I needed to get my ducks in order. You see, this bread takes a fantastically minimal amount of yeast - a quarter teaspoon. That's NOTHING when making regular bread.

Well - it's something.
And, it's a whole quarter teaspoon of something that I didn't have ready at hand.

Don't get me wrong, I have yeast. It's just in one of those huge bricks that I've got socked away in the back of the fridge as part of our food storage. You know - so I can continue to bake if there's a major outbreak of cholera in the area or if Mount Hood goes blewie.

I didn't want to break into my brick (let's not talk about rotating stock, ok? I'm in the middle of a rant right now…) so I decided to wait and get to the store where I could buy a couple of the little envelopes of yeast instead.

Shopping, sadly, did not happen until Saturday afternoon, but Saturday evening I started my dough using the teeny little amount of yeast.

Once I'd made the dough (which is dead easy) I dropped it into a big Tupperware bowl for the fermentation phase -and then reality hit. The recipe warns you to keep the dough in a warm room so that it can ferment properly, preferably 70 degrees or above.

Yikes! During the day we keep the heat in the house at 67 degrees, tops, and let it drop down quite a bit at night. How in the heck was I going to get the yeast to ferment?

I ended up wrapping the Tupperware in a set of my flannel winter sheets and keeping it in the upstairs guest room (possibly the warmest room in the house). I also cranked the heat a bit, but don't telly my sister. It seemed to work! Nice bubbles had appeared when I opened the Tupperware on Sunday morning.

Then, after church, I got to the next part of the recipe which is basically a light punch down and then a second rise for 2 hours. It really can't even be called a punch down. Turn the dough twice, let rest, then wrap in a floured cloth (not terry) and rise for two… wait… not terry cloth??

The only dish clothes I could find in the entire house are terry cloth. I have linen and cotton dish towels - somewhere - I know I do. But do you think I could find them? Nope.

I decided not to worry about it and put the Tupperware back in use, sans dish towel.

Two hours later I dumped the dough (which had NOT doubled as expected) into a 450 degree, preheated dutch oven, slammed down the lid and managed to transfer the whole mess to the oven without burning myself. The recipe state that you should just wiggle the pot a bit if the dough doesn't form a nice round, but it stayed put when I attempted the maneuver.

However... I'm happy to report… YUM!

After 30 minutes I took the lid off and I could already see the crust was going to be a success. It was gorgeous! 15 minutes after that I hauled the dutch oven out and there it was - my lovely, misshapen loaf!

Fortunately I got pictures before the cry of "MANGA! " rang out. My sister ate hers plain with butter and I had mine with some lovely apple butter that I made a few weeks ago. The dogs, of course, got several bites of the soft warm stuff. They're still nuzzing me, asking for more.

I'd say this was a success. It was dead easy, smelled and tasted fantastic and is already half gone. The top crust was all I could have asked for, although the bottom was a bit thicker than I'd like. Also the crumb was beautiful but much more moist than I'd expected. I was told this can happen when it's humid (which it is right now) so I'm not overly concerned.

Given the number of things I learned, next time it will be even better (and less nerve racking).

But before we try the No Knead Bread again I'll be doing Irish Soda Bread.
Stand by!