If only I’d remembered to take my benadryl last night, I would have slept great, ’cause Dan turned off the AC! As it was, I woke up at 6:30, wide awake, but because the room was so nice and quiet I was able to go back to semi-sleep till after 8am!
Last week I got a book called “No Need to Knead” from the library and it taught me how to make fantastic Italian-style bread. You really and truly don’t need to knead if you make a nice wet dough and let it sit around for a while. And the bread has a fantastic texture, light and chewy with a perfect crumb and crust.
Here’s the basic idea, my own slight variation that creates a loaf just the right size for my family to eat in one day:
Take a cup and a half of warm water. Whisk in a package of yeast. Stir in almost three cups of flour and a teaspoon of salt. This will make a very sticky wet dough that will just barely want to creep away from the edges of the bowl and almost form a ball. It’s completely un-kneadable, so don’t even try. You don’t have to!
Now, cover the bowl with a plate and refrigerate overnight or leave it alone for an hour or two on the counter. With the fridge method, take the dough out in the morning and let it come to room temperature. Smack the dough with the back of a spoon till it deflates somewhat, then let it rise again. After the dough has again risen in its bowl for a while, pre-heat the oven to 500F and then pour the dough into some kind of pan (I use my smaller cast-iron skillet, greased). You don’t have to worry about forming the dough in any particular way, just glop it gently into your pan and pop it into the oven. Turn the oven down to 450F and bake until the bread smells heavenly. Sorry, I don’t know how long, maybe half an hour or so. But check it when it starts to smell really good. The crust should be golden brown. Take it out of the oven, turn it out of the pan, and let it cool before cutting. Don’t give in to temptation! You really do need to wait or it’ll be a gummy mess.
I prefer the rise-on-the-counter method. I mix up the dough in the morning and bake it in the early afternoon. The fridge method lets the yeast develop a bit more of a tangy flavor. Try it both ways and see which you prefer!
I have baked a lot of bread in my life, but never never never have I made anything this good with so little work. It’s just as good as the fancy Italian bread from Trader Joe’s! You can learn lots more variations and techniques from the book, so run out and beg/borrow/buy a copy right now!