Chances are you are terrified of making bread. And if you’re not, you are probably completely “over” the no-knead bread craze.
I’m not over it. But I am kinda over the terror I feel every time I reach into a 500 degree oven to pull out my pot (see below), yet no where near over it enough to give it up for another method.
Actually, I did try a while back. I went to a “make your own starter” class, made a starter, diligently fed it twice a day, and I killed it. It was a real life Tamagochi pet disaster. Then I went to Outerlands, tasted their bread, died from pleasure, asked if I could have some of their starter, took some of it home, fed it for a couple weeks, and killed it, too. If anyone has some starter they want to destroy, send it over here!
When I want to make my own bread, I use this recipe, dump all the ingredients in a bowl, let it sit overnight, and put it in the oven 18 hours later. A four-year-old could do this, blindfolded and hungry. If you mess this up, you have bigger problems. The real mastery of no-knead bread comes in picking some cool flours and adding some interesting flavors. Or just sticking with normal white flour and adding some sun-dried tomatoes, or roasted garlic, or olives!
I wish I had used more meyer lemon in this recipe because I think it would have been a really irresistible flavor. Instead, the fennel was front and center, which is no problem for me because I’ll put fennel see in anything (have you ever had fennel ice cream?), but you might want to add more lemon.
Once you cast eyes on your first gorgeous loaf, with a perfect crust (you’ll call it a “crumb” though) and lots of holes, you’ll convince yourself you’re a pro and probably pay some ridiculous amount of money to attend a starter class, and watch & feed your starter like a doting mother. After you do that, you’ll likely make a delicious sourdough bread and forget about the likes of me and my no-knead bread-loving attitude. When that happens, send me a message, tell me how you are keeping your starter alive, and let’s make a sourdough bread recipe together. Enjoy!
What You Need:
2 1/2 c warm water
1/4 tsp dry, active yeast
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp agave nectar
1 tblsp fennel seeds
2 tsp meyer lemon zest (next time, I would probably use 1 heaping tblsp)
2 3/4 c spelt flour (*you can replace this with whatever kind of flour you want)
2 c all-purpose white flour
How To Do It:
Place water in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast and stir. Add salt, honey, fennel seeds and lemon zest and stir until well-mixed. Add the flour to the water mixture. Mix until all is combined. It will look shaggy and unimpressive. Cover with kitchen towel or plastic wrap and set aside for 12-18 hours (try and do the 18).
When you return to the dough, it will be bubbly and sticky. Flour the kitchen counter, and pour the dough out on the floured surface; dust the dough with flour or it will be too sticky to handle.
Fold it 4 times: take the left side and fold it onto the middle of the dough; take the right side and fold it into the middle of the dough; take the top and fold it down; take the bottom and fold it up (it kind of looks like an envelope, right?).
Dust a non-terry cloth kitchen towel with some flour. Place the dough on the towel folded side down. Fold the kitchen towel over the dough and let rise for 2-3 hours. When there is about 40 minutes left of the rising time, turn on the oven to 500F and place your dutch oven (no greasing needed) with the lid on in the oven. When the oven is ready, the dutch oven will be smokin’ hot, so when you add your dough to the pot, steam will rise and be contained with the pot; this creates a beautiful crust.
CAREFULLY remove the dutch oven from the oven. Unwrap the dough and place/drop it in the dutch oven. Slash the dough with a knife, then cover with the lid and place it back in the hot oven. Bake for 30 minutes, then lower the to 445F, remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove it from the oven, let cool slightly, turn the dutch oven upside down and place the bread on an oven rack to cool. Enjoy!