Have you made No-Knead Bread? For the unfamiliar, the now famous recipe was published by Mark Bittman in 2006 and was immediately received with great enthusiasm. It has since become a New York Times "classic recipe." It is a simple recipe - just flour, yeast, salt, and water. The only other essentials are a dutch oven and time. Much beloved by bakers everywhere, you can find reproductions and variations all over the internet.
Today I would like to present one of my adaptations featuring a wonderful combination of garden fresh rosemary and soft, creamy baby gouda cheese. Quite literally things found in and around my kitchen! This winning flavor combination may not have been planned in advance but it was immediately a new favorite (really though, isn't any oven-fresh-hot-bread a favorite?). That is the real beauty of this simple artisan bread, it is perfect as-is but takes to additions wonderfully.
A few notes before you get started: I've been baking this bread in some variation since 2010 or so, when I was first learning to bake bread, the most important takeaway is that this is an incredibly forgiving recipe.
You can add just about any ingredient when playing with flavors - herbs, cheeses, nuts, seeds, spices, dried fruits, olives, etc. Add them directly into the dry flour mixture before adding water, or fold into the bread just before the second rise. You can also sprinkle seeds and chopped nuts on top of the bread for a wonderfully textured crust.
I like to add 1 tablespoon of Sugar to the flour mixture to ensure happy and well fed yeast. I will leave it out if making an especially savory or salty bread (e.g., with olives and sun-dried tomatoes).
If you are short on time, expedite the first rise by placing the bowl of dough near a warm oven or other heat source. This will encourage the yeast to multiply and the bread to rise quicker. Using this approach I've manged to get by with a scant 5-hour rise and still made a perfectly nice loaf. (Given the option, I do prefer the full 12-hour rise.)
You can extend or skip the second rise without detriment. An extended second rise will result in slightly larger loaf with a more bubbled interior. Skipping the second rise seems to have little impact unless you've substantially punched down the dough, in which case your bread may end up flat. I've done either depending on my mood and available time. Bubbly bread or flat bread, it's still homemade and wonderful.
A dutch oven is the optimal vessel for baking, but some folks have had success on pizza stones or using common cooking pots (with heat-proof handles and lid). The shape and size of the pot is unimportant, so long as it's hot from the oven and of a decent size. Personally, I bake my bread in an oval shaped 5-quart cast-iron dutch oven. My loaves are typically round as long as I make the dough into a tight ball before the second rise and avoid overly handling the dough as it drops into the pot. You can also shake the pot a bit to reposition the dough if it lands off-center.
The pot itself can be lined with parchment paper, dusted with flour, sprinkled with corn meal, or left completely bare (my preference) - your bread will fine with any of these options.
In short, take a breath, mix up some dough, and have fun!
No-Knead Bread: Baby Gouda & Rosemary
- 3 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 3/4 teaspoons Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Instant or Rapid-Rise Yeast
- 1 1/2 cups Water, lukewarm
- 1 Tablespoon Sugar
- Optional: 1 Tablespoon Fresh Rosemary, chopped
- Optional: 1 1/2 cups Baby (Mild & Soft) Gouda cheese, cubed
Prepare Dough / First Rise: In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, yeast, and sugar. (If adding any herbs or other ingredients add them now, or with the second rise.) Pour the warm water directly over the mixture and stir well with a sturdy wood spoon. Keep your hands out of the dough if possible, it's a sticky mess at this stage! Continue to stir until all dry ingredients are incorporated, with no dry patches, and the dough is shaggy. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and allow it to rest at room temperature (do not chill) overnight or 12 to 18 hours.
Prepare Oven / Second Rise: At least a half-hour before baking the bread, place a dutch oven or heavy pot with a lid directly into the oven. Set oven to 450°F. This will allow both the oven and pot to heat at the same time, it is essential that the dutch oven be hot before adding the bread dough! Meanwhile, dump the dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball. (If adding any other extra ingredients now, gently fold them into the dough, then shape into a ball as directly.) Cover the shaped dough with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and allow it to rest while the oven is warming.
Baking: When the dutch oven has been warmed at 450°F for at least 30 minutes, carefully remove the hot pot from the oven and drop in the dough. Cover with a lid and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Bread will be golden brown when finished baking.
Storing the bread: We typically finish a loaf within a few days and will leave it sitting out on a wooden cutting board, draped with a heavy kitchen towel (helps to keep the bread moist). Should your bread last longer than a few days place it into a airtight bag to preserve it's freshness.