Thursday, December 18, 2008

No Knead Bread from a Dutch Oven

Putting the Oven back into Dutch Oven
Thanks to Jim Lahey, owner of the Sullivan Street Bakery in NYC for sharing this technique. It is super simple and very consistent. I own a nice Kitchen Aid stand mixer so kneading does not bother me. The finished product is what excites me. This bread is phenomenal.

I have to wonder how much of the bread's quality comes from the slow rise and how much comes from the Dutch Oven? The DO certainly makes for a steamy environment which promotes the development of an excellent crust.

Mark Bittman's adaptation of Jim Lahey's recipe.
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.
1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.
I've been making this in my Wagner Drip Drop Roaster and it is a great way to harden up and finish the seasoning on a DO. If all you ever do is cook on the stove top you might want to make a few loaves of this bread. You'll find another talent that your DO has been hiding.

Really good bread is hard to come by in a rural area and I'm stoked to be able to make this myself. It is by far the best European style bread I've ever pulled off.

* After watching the video again I think Lahey poured some olive oil around the dough before letting it rise. I have not done this but plan to do so on the next batch. It is great in pizza dough and I see no reason why it would not improve bread as well.

Thanks to Urban Chick Goin' Hillbilly for making me aware of this style of baking.


Dave said...

Just purchased a Wapak dutch oven, whould have never thought to try bread in it. can't wait to try this.

Jen said...

Thanks Greg! It has been a few weeks since I have made this bread and I think I will make it again this weekend.

Greg said...

Dave - I bet that is a sweet old Dutch Oven!

Jen - I'm hooked on it. I'm going through flour like never before.

Dave said...

Have made this 2x now, once for family over the holidays. Its so easy and fresh bread is soo good, especially this time of year.

Thanks again for this.

Radford said...

Just recently found a Wagnerware Magnalite Rotisserette. I'm not sure what it is made of. Silver metallic color. Do you know if this type of dutch oven can take 500 degrees in the oven? Thanks

Greg said...


Magnalite is aluminum. According to this link 500 degrees is OK (and the max temp) if there is no plastic on the piece.

I think you'd get better results from cast iron or ceramic as they will not cool down as fast when you open the oven door or add the dough. Good luck!

Radford said...

Do you know if any companies still produce machine pressed smooth cast iron. I've searched and all I can seem to find is the rough Lodge pots and pans. I try to buy dutch ovens on ebay but I always get smoked by people who seem to be pros at bidding. Thanks for your time. By the way, you should put up a post about making dutch babies in the oven. People should know about them.

Greg said...

Nobody machines the cast iron anymore and the iron itself seems to have a larger "grain" than the old stuff.

If you like smoother, finer grained cast iron you have to:
a) buy pre WW2 cast iron
b) buy enameled cast iron

If you keep losing Ebay auctions you are probably getting "sniped".

(Do a search on Ebay sniping) said...

This Recipe sounds good. We will give it a try in an original Cast Iron Dutch Oven, coals top and bottom.