Friday, March 1, 2013

Impossibly Easy No Knead Bread

So yesterday I was chatting with Lenita online and she shared a new blog with me. I am always 100% excited to learn about new blogs, learn new recipes, view home decor and see all their beautiful pictures.

But what makes me even more excited is when I see something that is super easy, can be done with things I already have and looks professional when it's done.

My problem with cooking is that I get too emotionally involved in it. I take on extraordinarily detailed and somewhat complex recipes while working on 3 different side dishes and end up completely devastated if something comes out less than decent.

So I decided to try this great recipe because it seemed idiot-proof and every now and then, I need one of those!

The problem was this recipe and all others like it used cast iron dutch ovens, of which I did not have.  So I decided to try something that I've never tried before: pyrex.

You may think since I'm such an avid Pyrex lover/collector that I have baked or cooked with it before, but in all honesty I usually use them only for mixing or serving and have not yet used them in the oven. I've used the corningware casserole dishes to bake things in but I don't have as much of an emotional attachment to those.

So here it was, the moment of truth,  I busted out my thrifted crazy daisy Pyrex casserole dish.  The thing I was a bit apprehensive of with this particular dish is that the recipe called for a 6-8 quart dish and all I had that was deep enough for this bread was my little 1 1/2 qt. (which of course I didn't measure until after I was done know...that would take planning and such.)

So here's the scoop, you gather your ingredients, are you ready for this?
1/4 tsp yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 cups AP flour plus more for work surface
1 tsp salt

That's it. Fabulous, isn't it?  So with 4 things I already have on hand I can make bread?! Why didn't someone tell me this 5 years ago?

So what you do is dissolve the yeast in the warm water then mix in the flour and salt.

After you have a nice sticky dough, you cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit for at least 8 hours but preferably 12-18 at room temperature. The great thing about this is that you can make this the previous day, set it and forget it. Yeah, I went there.

So the next day after it looks like this with bubbles beginning to form you want to take it out and fold it over itself a few times on a well floured surface.

Then shape it into a ball and cover it again with a clean, floured kitchen towel. You're supposed to let it sit for an hour but I only waited about 45 minutes.
 So 45 minutes in you heat your oven to 475 with your oiled dutch oven or alternate (oven safe) covered dish inside.  After the oven is preheated you place the dough inside, bake for 30 minutes then remove the lid and bake another few minutes. The recipe I had called for baking it uncovered another 15-20 minutes but I checked mine about 7 minutes in and it already had a nice golden crust, so I snatched it out of there.

When I pulled it out, this is what I had.:

 Looks like bread, right? Of all the things I have baked in my lifetime, and there have been a lot, I haven't been this excited for anything since the first time I successfully baked cupcakes which seems like an eternity ago.

So here it is, a great, rustic loaf that couldn't be any easier to make with ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. The wonderful thing is it's got a nice thick crust and a smooth, soft inside, perfect for spreading on butter and jam. I can imagine this being great for those unplanned dinner guests or for a nice chilly weekend in need of comfort food!

With how easy this is, I'm planning on baking another loaf tomorrow with fresh rosemary from my little countertop herb garden. This is definitely a recipe I can see myself recreating many times in the future!

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