I need a new dutch oven. Or a new oven. Or both. I burned the bottom of the first batch of this bread. Not that this stopped us from simply slicing off the browned bits and eating the rest, but still, I’ve never burned a loaf of bread in my life. So I suspect that A. my oven temp may be a bit high or B. the Chefmate Dutch Oven that was raved about so much and that I just had to have might not be as fabulous as we once suspected. Either way until Le Creuset gives in to my incessant whining and provides me with an updated line of pink products I will have to make due and simply adjust the cooking time a bit.
This bread is seriously om nom nom. CK’s boss, Dave, recommended that I give the Cooks Illustrated Almost No-Knead Bread recipe a try as opposed to the more commonly utilized New York Times No-Knead Bread. I’ve been using my bread machine fairly religiously lately but the airy texture and gorgeous artisan taste and feel of this bread certainly has me thinking twice when I get the urge for some fresh homemade goodness. I don’t even mind that it takes around 20 hours for the bread to appear since the recipe only involves about 5 minutes of total effort on my part. Plus you get to use beer. Cooks Illustrated recommends Budweiser of all things but I wouldn’t be caught dead drinking or buying that so I poured in a little Sam Adams Summer Ale and thoroughly enjoyed the remainder of the bottle.
My cousin Amanda and her husband also gave two thumbs up to this recipe. When the four of us got together to watch the Cavs trounce Detroit last weekend we devoured a large majority of the loaf dipping it in an addictive cheesy spinach dip that Amanda made. Don’t tell anyone but I think her new dip might rival my infamous Artichoke dip. Apparently there’s a new appetizer queen in the family.
Cooks Illustrated Almost No-Knead Bread (Adapted from the recipe originally published in the January 2008 issue of Cooks Illustrated)
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces), plus additional for dusting work surface
1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (7 ounces), at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mild-flavored lager (3 ounces) (Erin’s Note: I used Sam Adams Summer Ale. Yum Yum!)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.
Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.
About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. (Erin’s Note: For this part of the recipe I only needed to cook my bread for 15 minutes due to the issues I explained in the above post. Adjust the time accordingly in line with your oven’s “personality” and the quality of your dutch oven). Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.