The aroma of homemade bread is glorious! The smell as it bakes and that lingers afterward probably ranks at the top of the list of favorites for most people. It’s such a comforting and homey smell. Having to wait to slather a piece with butter and dive in is torture! I enjoy the process of bread making but I’m no expert by any means. I think it’s something you need to do regularly to understand how the dough should look and feel in each stage of the process. As much as I enjoy baking bread, I don’t always have the time or energy for it. From the popularity of no-knead recipes, it’s obvious I’m not the only one that feels that way.
The draw of no-knead bread is that it requires little time and effort yet the results are still delicious. Leaving the dough to sit overnight means that with a little advance planning, you can have freshly baked bread whenever you want whether you’re a beginner or expert bread maker. There is a no-knead recipe for every type of bread - crunchy and chewy, soft and pillowy, sweet or savory. The choice is yours.
The recipe I’ve been using for years is actually called Almost No-Knead Bread. Almost - because it does require you to knead the dough about 10-15 times prior to shaping. Just enough so you feel like you contributed and can totally take credit for how amazing it turns out, but not enough to tire your arms out. The recipe includes a bit of vinegar for tang and some beer to give it more of a yeasty flavor, kind of like sourdough. The dough can sit anywhere from 8 to 18 hours, meaning you can bake it when it’s convenient for you.
When you first mix it, it looks dry and craggy and you will think it’s never going to turn into anything resembling bread dough! But after an overnight rise, the dough transforms.
You can leave the dough as is or add in any number of ingredients to make whatever type of loaf you’re in the mood for. I think cranberries and pecans, or herbs and cheese are some delicious options. If it sounds good, try it! There are no rules!
This bread is a favorite with dinner guests and they always seem impressed when they find out it’s homemade. It makes me look like I know what I’m doing! It comes out great every time and is just about foolproof. The recipe creates a loaf that’s crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. This bread needs no accompaniment, but it’s perfect to pair with soups and stews because who doesn’t love to soak up all that goodness with a piece of bread???
Whether you have been baking bread for years or are just getting started, this is a great recipe to have on hand for an easy and beautiful homemade loaf.
Almost No-Knead Bread
Recipe from Cook's Country
- 3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water at room temperature
- 6 tbsp beer (mild-flavored lager is recommended)
- 1 tbsp distilled white vinegar
Whisk together flour, salt, and yeast in large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. With a rubber spatula, fold the mixture together, scraping the dry flour from the bottom of the bowl until you form a shaggy ball. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 18.
Spray an 18 x 12 inch sheet of parchment with cooking spray. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into a ball and transfer it seam side down to the center of the parchmet. Spray the surface of the dough with cooking sparay. Using the parchment, lift the dough and place into a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (mine is arouind 5-6 quarts)letting excess parchment hang over the pot edge. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and remove the plastic wrap from the pot. Lightly dust the surpface of the dough with flour and, using a sharp knife, cut a 6-inch long, 1/2-inch deep slit along the top of the dough.
Place the lid on the pot and place it in the cold oven. Heat oven to 425 degrees and bake bread for 30 minutes (start a timer as soon as you turn the oven on)
After 30 minutes, remove the lid and continue baking util the loaf is deep brown, about 20 to 30 minutes more. The internal temperature will be about 210 degrees.
Carefully remove the bread from the pot and transer to a cooling rack. Let the bread cool completely before slicing, aboiut 2 hours.