Up until about a year ago I had never made any bread at all before. I finally decided I wanted to give it a try after seeing how much even a small loaf of bread can be at the local markets and figured I needed to try it out just to see if I could save some money and have fresh bread. Turns out it was a lot easier than I always though it would be and I make all kinds of breads now. Some of the recipes take a day or more to do because you need to make a starter while others can be done in a few hours. Then there are those that you do all in a stand mixer and others need some kind of kneading by hand. I have also found a number of recipes, including this one from Cook’s Country, that require practically no kneading at all and produce a great crunchy loaf of bread that is perfect for any meal, sandwich, soup, toast or just to snack on. This one requires about a day in advance, but it is well worth the wait.
Almost No-Knead Bread
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, room temperature
6 tablespoons mild-flavored lager beer
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
Vegetable oil spray
Whisk the flour, salt, and yeast together in a large bowl. Add the water, lager and the vinegar. Using a rubber spatula, fold the mixture, scraping up the dry flour from the bottom of the bowl, until a shaggy bowl forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to sit at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 18 hours.
Lay an 18-inch by 12-inch sheet of parchment paper on the counter and spray it with the vegetable oil spray. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough 10 to 15 times. Shape the dough into a ball by pulling the edges of the dough into the middle. Transfer the dough, seam side down, to the center of the oiled parchment paper and spray the surface of the dough with the vegetable oil spray. Pick up the dough by lifting the parchment paper overhang and lower it into a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven. Let any excess parchment paper hang out over the edge of the pot. Cover the pot loosely with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise at room temperature until it has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with a finger, about 2 hours.
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Remove the plastic wrap from the pot. Lightly flour the top of the dough and using a sharp knife or a razor blade, make one 6-inch long, 1/2-inch deep slit along the top of the dough. Cover the pot and place it in the oven. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Bake the bread for 30 minutes.
Remove the lid from the pot and continue to bake the bread until the loaf is a deep brown and registers 210 degrees on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the bread, about 20 to 30 minutes longer. Using the parchment paper overhang, carefully remove the bread from the pot. Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and allow it to cool completely, about 2 hours.
A couple of things about this recipe. First, Cook’s Country recommends using a mild-flavored lager like Budweiser, which I never have in the house and do not like. I used a Samuel Adams Boston Lager and I think the bread came out great.The beer and the vinegar basically act as the fermented starter that is used in many breads and you can easily use your own starter if you have one already. you also want to make sure to put the bread into the cold oven in this recipe and start your 30 minute timer right then, not waiting until the oven preheats. This will help prevent the bread from burning. I have to say that this was one of the best bread recipes I have ever made. It makes a large, sizable loaf that I used when I made our filet mignon dinner. The bread was wiped out and we had none leftover, which is great and I think this particular bread is probably best eaten the same day anyway, though Cook’s Country says it will keep when stored in foil for about 2 days. in any case, this is definitely a bread recipe I will turn to again as everyone liked the crunch, texture and flavor.
That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!