Zurie's Overnight No-Knead Bread
After posting this recipe, and making the bread at least 3 times a week, I have simplified the rising process, and eliminated the messy parts. The original recipe comes from baker Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery, and has been discussed on Zaar. I have tweaked it a bit, and this is the closest I can come to those French "boules". It is real BREAD bread, not chemical cottonwool. All you need is time. The instructions are terribly long, but once you've read through it, you will see it's only to make the already-easy process still easier. Now you only need hunt up a suitably heavy pot with lid ... This is the best bread I've eaten in years. UPDATE, 13-8-07: Decided to try and use 4 cups flour to get a fatter loaf. It worked, and with the same smallish pot I got a lovely loaf. This 2nd recipe is tacked on to the instruction list. Good luck! By the way, if you want wholewheat bread, don't use this recipe. Rather use your bread machine or your normal way of bread-making. This very French-style loaf should be made from white bread flour, and you can add in a little fine rye flour. Sometimes I add 1 cup of "brown bread grain flour" which is very finely stone-milled, and has no large bran flakes. But basically, this is a white bread. Go on, indulge! Slice a piece for yourself when you can handle it and the crust is still crunchy-hard ... Heaven!
- Ready In:
- 1hr 10mins
- 3 cups white bread flour, not wholewheat (750 ml)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1⁄2 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 12 -13 fluid ounces water (415 ml, original recipe said 1 5/8ths cup, which was extremely difficult to get right)
*** Since first making this bread according to the original instructions (which caused a lot of mess), I've simplified the process. I have now bought a fairly deep plastic bowl with sloping edges, so it has a smallish bottom. The plastic seems almost -- not quite -- non-stick, and this is the method I use now:
- In such a lightly greased plastic bowl, put the flour, and add the yeast, sugar and salt. You may want to add less salt, but we found the original amount (1 1/4 teaspoon) not enough. Mix through.
- Add the water and stir the lot through until well mixed to a nice, smooth, quite sloppy dough.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap and put a kitchen terry towel or two over the top as well. Stand in a draught-free place for 18 hours.
- For me it works best to mix this up at 3pm. This means the dough is ready at 9am the next morning and I don't even have to get up early like my grandmother did to bake those huge farm loaves in the old days.
- After 18 hours the dough should be puffy and have little bubble holes on top and have more or less doubled in size, but don't worry too much about that.
- Instead of -- as the original recipe said -- turning out the dough on to a towel, do the following: From the sides of the bowl, scrape the dough away with light movements and fold it over on itself with floury fingers. Turn the bowl round and round, flattening the dough by repeating this "folding over". LIGHTLY press a little flatter.
- Cover bowl with same (now messy) plastic used before, and same terry towels.
- Leave to rise again -- 2 hours long.
- Half an hour before the 2 hours are up, put your oven on 450 deg F/220 deg Celsius. (I find that in my convection - fan - oven I can use a slightly lower heat: 215 - 210C, but the difference is not important).
- At the same time you need a heavy pot WITH a fitting lid, and this will go into the cold, heating-up oven, empty. The lid is to keep in the steam and cause that wonderful crust to form.
- Nothing beats an iron pot. Le Creuset will do too, and ceramic has been mentioned.
- I use a non-stick oval-shaped iron pot with a domed lid. You do NOT need a "6 - 8 quart pot" (sounds crazy to me) as stated in the original recipe. It's a small bread. My iron pot is a 2 1/2 quart pot, which translates to roughly 2 1/2 litres as well.
- I grease the pot and lid with REAL butter, and sometimes I slosh in some olive oil. I don't know why, but I feel I should do it. Now PUT THE POT IN THE OVEN, lid on.
- After the 2 hours of the 2nd rising, and when the oven and pot has reached its correct heat, take out that piping hot pot very carefully (I put it on one of my oven grids on a granite surface next to the oven).
- Have the covered dough nearby, and a silicone or other spatula. Tilt the plastic bowl over the smoking pot (don't let it touch the very hot pot) and with spatula or fingers scrape the dough lightly and evenly into the hot pot. It will sizzle as it falls into the pot; don't worry about that.
- Shake the pot slightly to distribute the dough, put on the lid, and carefully shove the whole shebang into the hot oven.
- Bake 30 minutes with lid, then open oven and take off lid. Bake 15 - 30 minutes more, until your bread has a golden crust. I find that about 15 - 20 minutes after taking off the lid the bread is ready. Baking times will differ because ovens differ.
- Turn out, and swallow that saliva until it's just cooled enough so you can saw off the end part to eat with real butter. On your own.
- When cold, do not put in plastic bag. Use a paper bag at most. I simply turn it on to the cut side on the breadboard, and cover it with a kitchen towel. It lasts until it's been eaten, which doesn't take long. Do not refrigerate, which would be silly.
- ***A few points: 1. Z-mail me for questions 2. Your experience might be "messier" than mine; it depends on the consistency of the dough and the bowl you use. But greasing the bowl right at the start does help. 3. Keep to the hours mentioned. It's meant to be a sloooow rising process. 4. Be careful not to burn yourself! 5.I have just found, praise the angels, a wonderful, very fine stone-milled 100% organic flour, and have just put a loaf of that, for the first time, in the oven! I think this robust, Frenchified loaf just cries out for stone-milled flour, fine and creamy or almost white. 6. You could use 2 1/2 cups white bread flour + 1/2 cup fine rye flour. DO NOT USE wholewheat flour for this bread, except for maybe a handful: it does not have enough gluten for this bread.
- Good luck!
- And a warning, added months later: that pot you use MUST go into the oven empty, and must heat to the heat of the oven. I tried putting the dough in a cold pot yesterday, and the bread wasn't as successful. It didn't rise nearly as much, and didn't have that lovely artisanal cracked round top. So HEAT THE POT as instructed.
- MAKING A LARGER LOAF: The warning here is that I use my metric cups and spoons for this, which are very accurate! Fortunately I have a Pyrex measuring cup with both metric millilitres and Imperial fluid ounces, so I could measure the water absolutely equally.
- 4 x 250 ml flour, or 1 litre or 4 cups (1 quart).
- 3/4 teaspoon yeast, and stir into flour.
- 3/4 teaspoon sugar, stir into flour.
- 15 ml or 3 teaspoons salt.
- 600 ml or 19 fluid oz water (JUST under 2 1/2 American cups -- maybe 2 teaspoons less than 2 1/2 cups).
- (EDITED June 2008): My husband actually calculated -- I'm bad with maths! -- that the water should be 666 ml -- so add a dash more than 600 ml if you feel it's necessary. Just remember to bake this 2nd, larger recipe for the full hour. Also, he said the bread needed more salt. We don't eat a lot of salt and I'm not worried about the issue, so I now use 4 teaspoons, i.e. 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon).
- Best results are still with white bread flour, stone-milled, or all-purpose, and a little rye flour can be used too.
- Carry on as usual, grease the pot really well or pour some melted butter or olive oil into the hot pot and tilt it to grease bottom. By the way, a silicone spatula works a treat when you tilt the dough into the super-hot pot!
- YET ANOTHER NOTE: the 3-cup-flour bread is ready at plus-minus 45 minutes. I have found that the 4-cup-bread needs a full hour.
MY PRIVATE NOTES
RECIPE MADE WITH LOVE BY
Join The Conversation
I've made this many times and never greased the pot/pan, and it has never stuck. It's pops right out, actually slides, I use a combination of pots, and I split the dough into two, better for us, then I freeze one, besides putting butter in a pot and heating it to that high of a temperature just makes a lot of smoke and there is no need... I have heard of putting some parchment under the loaf as it is rising, then when your'e ready to put into the super hot pot, you can transfer the whole thing, paper and dough, it makes it easier, but, usually I just plop it in the pot and no matter how it lands, it always turns out great. Most of the pots I use to bake with are cast iron, some enamel clad, some not, and sometimes I use an old vintage clear Pyrex covered dish. Anyway, hope my suggestions are helpful.
Such a nice recipe! Today I made one with 2 cups of fine spelt flour, 1/2 cup fine rye, 1/4 cup of spelt flakes and 1/4 cup og gluten flour. It worked out perfectly well to add more whole grain flour together with gluten flour! I will try to put in even more out of both next time. Todays bread was nice, crisp and moist just like the original recipe. Now I just mixed up a new one with your original recipe. My daughter brought some for lunch at school yesterday. Her friend loved it and asked if I would share the recipe with her. On friday morning she will receive a freshly baked bread along with the instructions of how to prepare it. Thank you for sharing!
This is the perfect artisan bread!!! I baked it on a buttered baking sheet and it turned out wonderful as well. It didn't have the cracked crispy crust that it gets with the dutch oven and lid but it is still a very nice European style bread. If you're looking for an easy, absolutely delicious, artisan bread then go no further than this recipe. You can add whatever herbs/flavors you want and it turns out WONDERFUL!!!! Next time I'm going to try jalapeno peppers and top it with cheddar cheese and see what happens. I'm pretty sure it's still gunna be great! Thanks for sharing, Zurie!!!
I can't believe it - I made a homemade yeast bread and did not pull my hair out or end up with a brick! This recipe is truly wonderful for me. I followed your instructions to a "T" - too frightened to do anything else. Now I feel like I've tackled me huge fear of making yeast based breads. Now I'll just have a fear of using anything but this recipe for the future. Thanks Zuri for sharing such a great recipe. Made in memory of your sweet hubby.