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Arwen in Breadland

April 27, 2010

For our housewarming my friends gifted us with a lovely 6 qt Lodge dutch oven in sexy fire engine red, and  Jim Lahey’s My Bread. Now I am inherently lazy, so the idea of not having to knead bread, and yet achieve fancy pants artisan style crust was like lazy man’s nirvana! I bought my first packet of instant active yeast ever, threw in the right amount of water, flour and salt and watched the gluten strands form. Mwah food science! There are a ton of articles on the Internet about the no-knead bread method, so on to the pictures!

Jim Lahey suggests keeping the dough at 65 to 70 degrees for the 18 hour rise. So at night I bring the dough into the bedroom since it’s the warmest room in the apartment. Yes I sleep with my dough. You would do the same! I cannot believe how amazing this bread comes out! The crust is crisp and crackly while the inside is meaty and chewy. The book and the Internet don’t lie. Using this no-knead method is simple, easy to plan around, and comes out impressively professional tasting. Not to mention the smell of baking bread. I used to brew beer with my friends, so I’m very attached to the yeasty smell of bread.

So what can I show you? Here are some of the variations I’ve done and all were just as easy. I haven’t had a single bad bread yet!

This was a lighter bread with an easy breakaway crust. I got the recipe from Kneadlessly Simple: Fabulous, Fuss-Free, No-Knead Breads. I find her method fussier than Jim Lahey’s method, so I usually just use his faster and higher temp bake times with her recipes. So far it has seemed to work out just fine.

I went sort of cinnamon crazy on this bread. Next time less cinnamon (or none) and I switched from measuring cups to a scale for getting my flour measurements more accurate.  While you don’t need to be precise to get a good loaf, I admit the experts are right and scale weight measurements do lead to better bread.

I followed Lahey’s instructions to only do a 25% wheat flour to prevent the bread from being too dense. This was a delicious slightly grainier take on the original recipe. I might try to up the wheat flour in future batches and see what happens.

R and I can sit down with some cheese and wine and finish off a one of these rounds in one sitting! Would explain the bread rolls around my waist…however homemade bread doesn’t seem to keep very well. You cover it with a linen dishtowel or put it in a heavy paper bag, but once you cut into the bread it has a short shelf life. I did successfully revive a few left over pieces by toasting them in the oven the next day.

All this talking about bread, I have 5 minutes, off to get another batch ready!

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