Back in November I was, of course, intrigued by Bittman’s article about No-Knead Bread—the entire internet seemed to be obsessed, too, and everyone was trying it and writing about it. I was concerned about the plastic Le Creuset handle in the hot oven, though, and didn’t get around to trying it until around Valentine’s day. (Pictures of my first batch, along with the steak, orzo, broccoli and wilted spinach salad we had for dinner that night, followed by fallen chocolate cakes, were lost in a camera memory card disaster.) I was tipped off to the existence of stainless steel knobs for my dutch oven on Not Martha, and I ordered one right away. Before and after:
So handsome! Incidentally, you could just use a stainless cabinet knob from a hardware store, but I liked the idea of having the same broader handle to grab onto, since I’m a klutz. That’s also why I didn’t just plug the hole from the knob with tinfoil and slide the lid on and off; I would have gotten 3rd degree burns or a broken toe or both.
Anyway, I’ve made the bread several times since. The first batch I made using the directions Bittman gave in the printed recipe, which calls for 1 5/8 cups of water. In the video that accompanied it he said 1.5 cups. The waterier batch never rose and stayed VERY wet and sticky. I got a small loaf but it still tasted and looked good. Using 1.5 cups of water gave me much bigger and easier to handle loaves.
The dough after 18 hours of sitting, after the second rise, and after being uncovered in the oven (30 minutes into baking):
Everyone in the world has already commented on how good this bread is, considering how simple it is to make. All it takes is time, and a loaf costs about 55 cents, while looking and acting like good bread from a bakery. The first day it is particularly irresistible; I like it buttered (salted butter) and sprinkled with sugar. Ben is nuts about it for sandwiches. Considering that this was the second time I’d ever made bread, I was pretty damn impressed.
My friend Laura gave us a bunch of awesome cookbooks as a wedding present, including The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Now that I have the mixer (and I also got a scale this weekend) I want to experiment with a ton of the recipes in that.