Painless pain

28 Jan 2010, comments

I finally got around to trying the recipe for no-knead bread that Mark Bittman evangelized more than three years ago in the New York Times and on Youtube. This really is a remarkably painless way to make bread at home.

I did learn a few things in the process. The dough was a gooey blob after the first rise; there was no "seam side" after the folding. In fact, it's a stretch to call what I did folding, but I worked the dough for a minute. And the second "rise" was more of a "spreading out". None of this seem to matter though, as the bread turned out great. It did make a mess on the towel I put over it while rising, so next time I'll probably use a bit less water, and try to find some cornmeal or wheat bran to put on the blob before covering with the towel. Dusting it with flour was a bit of a mistake, since the flour absorbed the liquid and then the blob stuck to the towel, significantly reducing the size of the final loaf. I'll also use a bit more salt next time -- maybe I'll even measure the salt next time. And I was slightly worried, as we don't have a dutch oven or large enough covered pyrex casserole dish, but covering our large pyrex mixing bowl with aluminum foil worked fine.

I used pain de campagne flour, which is a mix of wheat and rye used in making rustic, country style bread here in France. It was a good choice; the results were everything I'd hoped for. Total effort was about half an hour (spread over 18 hours), but it will probably only take half of that the next time.