No knead bread is the easiest and most reliable bread-making method that I’ve come across. I have made dozens of bread recipes, and this is the one of the few that consistently create a product to rival any bakery’s artisan bread. The no knead bread takes the form of a beautiful boule with a thick and crusty exterior, while still boasting a soft and chewy interior. The bread is essentially a labyrinth of nooks and crannies into which your topping of choice will gladly get itself lost, until your vigilante-taste buds equip themselves with their, much-underused, headlamps and scour the land in search of mislaid peanut butter.
I have made several versions of this no knead bread, and continue to find myself dreaming up new combinations. This most certainly won’t be my last no knead bread post, so you’d best head out to the store to find yourselves a dutch oven/cast iron pot, if you don’t have one gathering dust in your cupboard, so that we can all get ‘a-baking together.
Once you learn this method, you’ll never find yourself trekking out in the cold winter weather to buy $5.00 bread ever again. This bread is easy, inexpensive, and emotionally gratifying.
If you want a plain bread, leave the chocolate, chili flakes, and sugar out. If you’re adventurous, and know how to have a good time, toss ’em in.
Chocolate-Chili No Knead Bread
Adapted from Jim Lahey’s No Knead Bread
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose or bread flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp instant (rapid rise) yeast
2 tsp crushed red chili flakes (or less, if you’d rather)
3 Tbsp white sugar, optional (it sweetens it up just slightly)
2/3 cup chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups water
wheat bran for sprinkling
- In a large bowl, combine the flours, salt, yeast, chili flakes, and sugar.
- Mix in the chocolate chips. Stir in the water. Your dough will look shaggy. That’s good.
- Leave the dough in the same bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let it rise in a draft-free place for 18-24 hours. **This means that you’ll have to plan ahead and mix everything together the day before.**
- After the first rise, sprinkle the top of the dough with approximately 1/4 cup of flour and gently flatten enough to fold dough back onto itself a couple times to form a roundish blob of dough. Let it sit for a few minutes while you prepare for the next step.
- Lightly grease a medium sized bowl with olive oil and sprinkle with wheat bran to lightly cover its surface (I usually just opt to use lightly-greased parchment paper for this step).
- Gently and quickly transfer your dough (doing your very best to keep it in a roundish shape) to the prepared bowl.
- Cover with a towel and let rise for 2 more hours.
- 1-1/2 hours into the second rise, place your dutch oven/cast iron pot (with the lid) in your oven and preheat it to 500 degrees!
- After the 2 hour rise/30-minute pot-preheat, carefully (it’s scalding!) remove the pot from the oven, take off its lid, and as gently as possible, flip the dough into the pot (being very careful not to burn yourself). Cover the pot and return it to the 500 degree oven.
- Bake covered for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn the oven down to 450 degrees and remove the lid. Bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove cover and bake an additional 15 minutes at 450 degrees.
- Remove from the oven and allow bread to cool completely (if you have the will power) before slicing and eating.
I topped my bread with a cinnamon-vanilla compound butter that I threw together at the last minute, flattened out, refrigerated, and then cut with a heart-shaped cookie cutter. This paired perfectly with the chewy, slightly sweet, and mildly spicy bread. Mmm.
More variations to come, but go ahead and be creative! Just keep the recipe’s skeleton together and mix in your favourite flavours.