It has been a while since I have posted about bread baking. I still do it fairly often, and the easiest way I have found to maintain the habit is using this recipe. It makes three loaves at a time, and I bake all three and then freeze them until needed. Since we usually don’t eat more than a loaf a week, if that, I can bake once every three weeks and never run out of bread. Not to mention that the recipe itself is easy and not at all time-consuming, and the bread is delicious.
This recipe comes from my old standby, King Arthur Flour, and the ratios are perfect. This is especially important for no-knead bread. If you are kneading, you can use experience and judgment to know when you have the right mix of bread and water in the dough, but for no-kneads this is not easy to know because the dough is so wet. It is especially important to weigh out the ingredients with a scale – I usually weigh down to the gram in order to get the balance right. But the upside is the bread is perfect every time.
No-Knead Crusty White Bread
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
680 g lukewarm water (24 oz)
907 g unbleached all-purpose flour (32 oz)
14 g (1 tbsp) salt
14 g (1-1/2 tbsp) instant yeast
Measure out all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, or a large (6-quart), food-safe plastic bucket. I use my largest dough-rising bucket.
Mix and stir everything together to make a very sticky, rough dough. I do this with my dough whisk until it gets too tough to stir. At that point, I reach in and stir it with my hands, folding the dough over itself until there are no streaks of flour and everything is incorporated.
Cover the bowl or bucket (I just place the lid on the top but don’t snap it on), and let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 hours.
After it’s been out for 2 hours, put the bowl or bucket in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or for up to about 7 days. The longer it is refrigerated, the more it will taste like sourdough. I usually bake all the loaves at once, but you can bake them one at a time as long as you use all of the dough within seven days.
When you’re ready to bake, remove the bucket and sprinkle the top of the dough with flour to make it easier to grab a hunk. Grease your hands, and pull off a chunk of the dough. I like to make 3 loaves with this dough, and I weigh each dough ball in a greased bowl to be around 17 ounces each.
Roll the sticky dough onto a floured work surface, and round it into a ball as best as you can. Do the same with the other two loaves.
Place parchment paper on a half sheet pan, and put the loaves on it. Sift a light coating of flour over the top to keep the dough moist.
Let the dough rise for about 45 to 60 minutes. Preheat your oven to 450°F while the dough rests.
When you’re ready to bake, take a sharp knife and slash the bread 2 or 3 times.
The King Arthur Flour recipe has you add in a water tray for steaming the bread when you put it in the oven, but I usually skip that step. The steam tray will make the crust crispier, but I like it fine without.
Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, until it’s a deep, golden brown. I always check the internal temperature with my bread thermometer; you want it to be above 180 degrees.
Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack. Once it’s cool, I double-bag (bread bag and freezer bag) two loaves and put them in the freezer. The other loaf I leave out to eat, and put it in a plastic bag at room temperature.