There is something about simplicity, don’t you think? About the combination of flavours and tasks that gives you a big reward for not doing a whole lot. That’s what this recipe is about – giving you the biggest return on something that is pretty low effort. Who doesn’t want a no-knead bread recipe in their life?
How you use this no-knead bread recipe is of course up to you, but when I make (and it’s there’s a bowl of it in my kitchen on a distinctly regular basis) it tends to be for brunch at the weekend or a little ahead of when I know I’m going to be making a big pot of soup.
This little life hack came about from one of my more unusual cookbooks – Genius recipes from Food 52. Why genius? Well it looks at recipes in a way you might not have considered before. It’s about looking at traditional recipes from a different perspective. In this case it’s about giving you the option not to spend lots of time kneading, but using the power of time (sounds very mysterious, I just mean leave it over night…) and getting a delicious artisan-esque loaf of bread at the end of it.
Apart from the obvious benefit of having a delicious loaf of bread at the end of it, the best part of this bread is that it’s really easy to make. There’s no laborious kneading involved. Because the dough is left to rise really slowly – usually overnight slowly – it has time to develop the gluten all by itself. No more kneading for you.
Because of this, I quite often make this loaf at the weekend. Start before heading out on a Friday or Saturday evening – whether that’s for a night out, or a quick walk to the shops to get some ice cream to eat whilst watching a film, I don’t judge – and it’ll work its magic overnight. Then when you get up to make coffee the next morning you can quickly finish the dough, leave it for the second prove and it’ll be ready just in time for brunch.
This loaf is dead simple, and tastes absolutely amazing. It’s probably not going to be uniform and perfect – I’m yet to make one perfectly round, and it may have some small air pockets – but who needs their bread to be perfect? This no-knead bread is about the simple recipe that delivers the maximum amount of flavour. Eat it straight, add marmalade or make it into bacon and avocado toast – the choice is entirely yours!
This recipe is my take on the method in Genius Recipes, but with more wholemeal goodness involved. It makes one loaf about 22cm in diameter, or about 570g.
- 300g strong white flour or bread flour
- 100g strong wholemeal flour
- 3g dried yeast
- 8g sea salt flakes
- 350g warm water (about 15ºC)
- Additional white flour for dusting
Start with a big bowl, in which you put your flours, salt and yeast. Keep the yeast and salt across the bowl from each other – salt tends to kill yeast. Mix these all together and make a well in the middle. Into the well pour your water.
Mix with a wooden spoon – or better yet, your hands – until you get a sticky wet dough. This will take less than a minute.
Cover the bowl – I use a shower cap ‘acquired’ from a hotel stay (yes, I have a stash) – and leave somewhere that is room temperature and out of direct sunlight. You’re looking for the surface to be covered in bubbles. I leave mine overnight, usually so it gets at least 10 hours, if not more.
Once it’s doubled in size, dust a large chopping board with flour. Turn your bowl upside down over the floured board and gently tease the dough out of the bowl. It should stick a bit and be quite stretchy before it’ll come out – that’s good, it means the gluten is there.
You’ll be tempted to add more flour as it’s wet – don’t. It doesn’t need it.
Lightly flour your hands and start to fold the dough in from the sides. Do this by lifting the edges and push a little towards the centre. This will give you a nice circular shape and give you a seem on the top.
Take your bowl and turn it upside down over the dough on the board to seal it in. Let it sit for about 90 minutes.
Half an hour before the end of the second rise, get a large pot – I use my Le Fake-et casserole – and put it in the lower part of the oven. Preheat the oven to about 220ºC.
When the dough is ready, take the pot out of the oven and durst the inside with a little more flour to stop it sticking. Gently slide your dough off the board and into the pot. Put the lid back on and bake it in the oven for 30 minutes.
Take the lid off and bake for a further 10-15 minutes. It should be a beautiful golden brown on the top, if it’s not, leave it in for another five minutes.
Use a spatula or oven gloves to lift the bread out of the pot. Cool on a wire rack.
Try resist tearing off a chunk until it’s cold – the flavour is so much better then.