Nothing beats the smell of home-baked bread. If the thought of feasting on your very own loaf, slathered with butter and jam, fresh out of the oven, gets your tastebuds whirring it’s time to get baking.
Making your own bread is a bit like making your own pasta — an accomplishment for sure, but why bother with the mess when you’ve got a great bakery around the corner?
While nothing compares to bread straight out of the oven, kneading sticky dough and spilling flour all over your kitchen can turn even the keenest of bakers away from bread. But baking your own bread doesn’t have to be messy. In fact, it can be as simple as tossing some flour, water and yeast into a bowl and letting time do the rest with a good no-knead bread recipe under your belt.
(Adapted from the “New York Times” no-knead bread recipe.)
- 4 cups of bread flour
- 1/2 teaspoon of instant yeast
- 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt
- 2 cups of lukewarm water
- Beer bread: Replace half the water with the same quantity of beer.
- Cheesy bread: Mix in 1/2 cup of grated cheddar when you knock back the dough (will require some kneading).
- Olive bread: Mix in 1/3 cup of chopped olives when you mix the dough.
- Garlic and herb bread: Mix in 1/3 cup of chopped garlic and 1/3 cup of chopped herbs (woody herbs such as rosemary and thyme work well) when you knock back the dough (will require some kneading).
- Honey nut bread: Mix in 1/4 cup of honey when you mix the dough and add 1/3 cup of chopped walnuts when you knock back the dough (will require some kneading).
Mix all your ingredients together in a large bowl until it’s well blended. The mixture will look a bit raggedy and sticky. Cover the bowl with cling-wrap and leave it in a warm spot (a sunny corner is good) for anywhere between 12 and 20 hours.
After the dough has rested overnight it will look bubbly and sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and with a wet spatula (or wet hands), shape it into a ball. You don’t need to touch it too much, just a vaguely round shape will do.
Place the ball of dough on a piece of baking paper and lift into a large bowl. One that is about the same shape as your Dutch oven is good. Let the dough rest for two hours, covered with more cling-wrap.
Once your dough has rested and approximately doubled in size it is ready to bake. Preheat your oven to 240 degrees Celsius and put an empty Dutch oven inside it for 30 minutes to heat up. Lift your bread on the baking paper and flop it into the pot (it is a good idea to cut a circle of baking paper to put on the bottom of the pot to prevent sticking). Cut a cross, or lines, into the top of your loaf, cover and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid, then bake for a further 30 minutes. Bread is ready when you can tap the top and hear a hollow sound.
Remove and cool on a wire rack before slicing.