No-knead bread

I tried doing this when the famous Mark
Bittman article
came out in the New York Times. I may well
have done something wrong, but the dough I produced was a gooey,
unmanageable mess.

The NPR interview with the author of Kneadlessly
(Nancy Baggett) convinced me to try it again.

I’ve baked two loaves out of the book. I can’t say that either
of them was an unqualified success, but the method does definitely
produce good bread dough if you mix the ingredients the way she
tells you to and leave the bowl on your kitchen counter for a
day. I do seem to need to modify her instructions for the baking part, though.

I know the conventional wisdom is that you should buy an oven thermometer and
test the temperature of your oven, but I’ve never seen any
reason to believe the oven thermometer that costs $4.99 at the
hardware store is any more likely to be
accurate than the one in the stove that cost $499 at the
appliance store. And usually when I set the temperature
specified in a
recipe on the stove, what I’m baking comes out roughly the way I
expect it to.

Both the loaves of bread I’ve made from the recipes in this book have burned on the bottom before the
internal temperature of the bread got to where the directions said
it should. So I’ll be baking subsequent loaves at a lower
temperature, or maybe to a lower internal loaf temperature, or
maybe on a higher shelf in the oven.

But after I fed the burned part of the crust to the dog, the
rest of the bread has been quite good. I fed some to a dinner
guest last night, and he agreed that it was a very good texture
and flavor.

I’m definitely going to be baking more bread like this. It’s
about as little work as using the bread machine for the kneading
part and baking in
the oven, and you don’t have the bread machine cluttering up
your counter.

I will leave the bread machine to clutter up my pantry,
however. There really are times when you need the bread less
than a day and a half after you decide to make it.

My favorite bread machine use was the time I got home from
buying dinner ingredients and realized that I’d forgotten to get
bread. So I decided it was easier to throw flour, water, salt,
and yeast in the bread machine than to go back to the store. I
took the bread out of the machine just as the guests were
arriving, and had a house that smelled like baking bread as a bonus. To do this as a no-knead recipe, you would have to be organized about the bread the previous morning, not at 4 the afternoon of the dinner party.

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