Friday, 23 March 2012

No Knead Bread

A Very Easy Foolproof  No-Knead Bread

Yummy home made bread

I came upon this recipe for a no-knead bread a many years ago and it really suits my method of  no fuss cooking: it is so easy and works perfectly every time. There is also very little in the way of measuring and you really do not need to be too precise. An added advantage is that it works well when cooking in an Aga, which is generally too hot for most breads - they brown on the outside before they are fully cooked inside. The bread is cooked in a Dutch oven (a large cast iron casserole) - I use a Le Crueset 30 cm wide and deep, which is huge and takes a full chicken. Mine are about ten years old, and all a little discoloured inside on the white enamel but work just fine. They do have a lifetime guarantee and are worth their price tag of around £150 each.

30cm diameter £150 approximately

Firstly we get a mixing bowl and put three cups of all purpose bread flour in it.

Cannot see the flour - as you can see it is very sunny in my kitchen today!

Then add one full teaspoon of salt and one full teaspoon of dried yeast.

Still sunny

I use a very old 'runcible' spoon, which is a half teaspoon measure - and upon taking this picture I am ashamed of it and have decided it is high time I replaced it.

The old 'runcible' spoon!

Mix together thoroughly.

Now add one and a half cups of lukewarm water and mix lightly together. The mixture will look sticky and stringy. I now use a scraper to clean the sides of the bowl and pile it all in the centre.

Still very sunny in the kitchen

Now cover the mixture with clingfilm and put in a warm area and forget about it for twelve hours. Do not be tempted to touch it! This twelve hour period can be extended for up to eighteen hours without any harm coming to the finished bread. I just push mine to the back of the kitchen worktop and forget about it.

Meanwhile ... while waiting for the bread to rise I thought I would explain the 'runcible' spoon ...

The Owl And The Pussy Cat

The Owl And The Pussy Cat
Edward Lear
1812 - 1888

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!'

Pussy said to the Owl, 'You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?'
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

The Owl and the Pussy Cat and Piggy-Wig

'Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?' Said the Piggy, 'I will.'
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

The Owl and The Pussy Cat and The Turkey

Now thats clear, isn't it?  A 'runcible' spoon is a word made up by the nonsense poet Edward Lear and used in many of his poems with different meanings allotted to it each time.  It describes my salt spoon perfectly.

Mark Bitman's No-Knead Bread  Recipe from  UTube  ...

Now back to the bread ....

Twelve hours later the bread mix has doubled or even tripled in size and looks very bubbly on the surface. It is still very squidqee (I like this word) and not at all firm like dough would normally be if using a 'normal' bread recipe.

I always think this looks like a big bowl of porridge!

Now turn it out onto a floured surface and just lightly fold it into a parcel. Do not knead!!  ...

Any flour will do - see how sticky it still is?

The Dutch oven is now placed in a very hot oven for fifteen minutes

I use a sheet of Bake O Glide in the bottom of the casserole
I sprinkle a handful of pine nuts (or other) on the baking sheet
And another handful on the dough once I place it in the hot pan

Now place the lid on the casserole and give it thirty minutes in a very hot oven at which point you then remove the lid of the casserole. Time it carefully ...

The bread should have substantially risen and should now look like this ...

See those lovely toasted pinenuts?

I now check the bread every five minutes or so and it usually takes between ten to fifteen minutes to meet the required brown colour.

We now have lovely fresh bread with pine nuts ...

This mornings breakfast

Yummy with honey

And this is the one made for tomorrow without the pine nuts ...

Without pine nuts

The best thing about this easy loaf is the fact that although a bit time consuming there is really very little to do other than wait. The bread is always wholesome and tasty and the crust always crispy. Do give it a try and you may get hooked like me.

I have tried making the loaf with different quantities (ie doubling them) and this is then not successful. The actual finished loaf is around one and a half pounds in weight.  It is however easy to include other flavourings and this seems to work quite well as long as they are kept to a minimum quantity. The topping can be just about anything you like - sea salt and rosemary being one of my favourites.

Note: The pine nuts do not all stick and many remain in the bottom of the casserole. I collect these lovely toasted nuts and sprinkle them on salads.

Delicious toasted pine nuts



  1. That looks delicious. I'll have to try that one. Also, I like the runcible spoon. It has character. :-)

  2. Looks wonderful - all that effort and would be gone in 60 seconds!

  3. Mmmmm! I think I can smell it from here! We have a tablespoon that partners your teaspoon, but oh so useful!


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