The results are superb. I love bread which is chewy, crunchy & soft in the middle. I always thought this kind of bread is hard to make & takes a lot of time. Thankfully I was wrong.
I have my friend Rosie in Cusco to thank for this one. Baking at 3500m above the sea is not easy but she had heard of this method so we tried it & never looked back. It was a real bonus to have an easy homemade bread recipe in a busy, small restaurant kitchen. We started serving this with our soups & it was really popular with diners.
I have not been eating much bread in the last year so had sort of forgotten about this recipe. However a couple of weeks ago some friends were coming over for dinner & I was making Portuguese food. Portugal has the best bread I have ever tasted & it is impossible to find something so delicious here. I remembered this bread recipe & realised that with some really good quality flour & careful steaming to get a thick crust I would get a decent bread to compliment the meal. My friends loved it & asked for the recipe so here it is.
No knead bread will turn out well however you make it, honestly. However, a couple of things will take it from decent to so great you give yourself stomach ache (several times!). A decent flour will give tastier results. I used 100g of spelt with 258g extra strong white bread flour. The texture becomes heavier depending on the flour, just white flour is the lightest. Flavour can also be enhanced with some seeds, nuts, herbs or spices depending on what the bread will be eaten with.
Another thing which will make a huge difference is crust formation. The best way to achieve this without a steam oven is to use a tray of water in the oven. Crust forms as the outer layer of the dough dries out in the heat. If this happens immediately the bread doesn’t rise as much in the oven & the crust can be hard. A tray of water keeps the air in the oven moist so the dough can rise & the crust forms more slowly. It is worth boiling the kettle for I promise.
The dough needs to proof for at least 18 hours so the only hard part about this recipe is thinking ahead. If you keep it in the fridge it can stay there for days. I once left it for 4 days & the loaf was delicious with the tang of a good sourdough. It does not have to be kept in the fridge in winter but should be pretty cold, in the summer it should be refrigerated. If it is too warm the dough will rise & rise & the end result will be different. Keep it cold & slow, the dough should have just about doubled after 18 hours.
If you find the dough is very soft & spreads too much on the baking tray so that the loaf is really thin just add less water next time. Flour is temperamental & absorbs more or less water depending on the type & the weather. This is something you get a feel for but however the dough is I reckon you will love the bread.
No Knead Bread
1/2 tsp dried yeast
340 ml warm water (tepid)
1. Measure out the ingredients into a bowl & mix them until everything is incorporated & you have a shaggy looking dough. Don’t knead it.
2. Cover the bowl & leave in the fridge for at least 18 hours. I have left the dough as long as 3 days before cooking it.
3. Turn the dough out & use your hands to gently form a loaf or boule shape by pulling the dough down at the sides & tucking it underneath.
4. Place it on a greased baking tray or stone & cover with a damp tea towel for an hour.
5. Turn on your oven to get really hot. Take a large roasting tray & pour a couple of inches of boiling water in. Place this in the hot oven for about 10 minutes before you start to bake the bread.
5. Slash the dough & bake for about half an hour. You can take the roasting tray of water out after the crust has formed (about 15-20 minutes).
To check it is cooked knock on the bottom, the sound should be hollow. I usually bake it for half an hour then take it off the baking tray for the last 5 minutes to crisp up the bottom. Cool it on a rack to keep the bottom from becoming soggy.
p.s. if you’re a fan of different breads why not check out our foolproof flatbread recipe?