No-Knead Harvest Bread

No-knead bread is so easy, and comes out so good, I rarely make any other kind. The technique uses a wet dough and ultra-long rise to generate flavor and gluten without the physical work of kneading. There’s really no other bread recipe that gives you a better ratio of low effort to incredible result.

The main thing to remember is that you need about 22 hours total from the time you start to when the bread is ready to eat. Very little of that time is active prep time, but you do need to plan your bread-making schedule in advance. The dough is very forgiving, though, so there’s a lot of wiggle room in the timing.

Here I used pumpkin to give the bread a nice fall color and tender texture. But you can omit the pumpkin and still end up with an excellent loaf — just increase the water to 1 1/3 cup (300 grams). You can also swap out the rye flour for whole wheat or just bread flour.

Adapted from the Basic No-Knead Bread Recipe in Jim Lahey’s My Bread (I highly recommend this cookbook — it is full of terrific breads, some unique, top-notch pizzas and a bunch of sandwich and other bread-related recipes).

Ingredients

2 3/4 cups bread flour (367 grams)
1/4 cup rye flour (33 grams)
1 1/4 tsp salt (8 grams)
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup plus 2 tbsp water
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
yellow cornmeal

In a large bowl, stir together the two flours, salt and yeast.

Combine 1 cup of water with the pumpkin puree in a separate bowl and stir until smooth. Add to the flour mixture, then stir until completely incorporated. The result should be a wet, sticky dough that forms a shaggy ball. If the dough feels dry, add the remaining 2 tbsp of water a little at a time as needed.

Cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap, then let rise at room temperature for about 18 hours. When the dough is ready, it will have more than doubled in size and spread out from edge to edge of the bowl. The surface should be dimpled all over with bubbles.

Using a floured spatula, scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface, keeping it in one piece. It will be sticky and stringy. Fold the dough in half on itself a few times and shape into a ball. Make sure the top and bottom of the ball are well floured, then cover loosely with a smooth (not terry-cloth) towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 1-2 hours. (I like to use a floured proofing basket for this step because it makes a pretty loaf, but it’s not essential.)

Preheat oven to 475 degrees and place a heavy pot (about 5-quart size, preferably cast iron), covered, on a rack in the lower third position. When the oven and pot are up to temperature and the dough is ready, take the pot out of the oven and remove the lid.

Dust the bottom of the dough lightly with cornmeal and gently drop it into the hot pot.  Don’t worry if it’s not perfect — it will even out on its own. You can score the top of the dough if you wish, but it will typically open up natural cracks as it bakes.

Cover the pot (remember it’s hot!), return to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 15-30 minutes. When the bread is done, the crust should be dark golden brown and the internal temperature of the loaf should be roughly 190 degrees.

Remove the loaf from the pot (a heat-proof spatula, spoon, tongs and/or pot holders help) and set it on a rack to cool for at least 1 hour. Cutting into it too early will result in a gummy texture. If desired, reheat the bread for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven before serving.

Pictured: Pyrex Town and Country 444 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Town and Country 443 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Measuring Cup

Yeasted Lemon Zucchini Bread

We are lucky enough to have wonderful neighbors who share produce from their vegetable garden year-round. So when they brought over a monster zucchini recently, I decided to make some zucchini bread. But not just any zucchini bread!

While I love traditional zucchini bread — usually a quick bread leavened with baking powder — there is something really satisfying about baking yeast breads. The smooth feel of well kneaded dough, watching it rise, shaping it — not to mention the physical work and patience required. Plus, you can’t beat the soft, fluffy texture!

So I set out to make a yeasted zucchini bread, something with the flavors of the traditional recipe and just a touch of sweetness, like a breakfast bread. It’s delicious served warm with plenty of butter!

 

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups bread flour (stir your flour before measuring to loosen)
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 packet)
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium)
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
cooking spray

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and yeast. Add the zucchini and lemon zest and stir to incorporate. In a separate bowl, combine the water, honey and olive oil, then add to the flour mixture.

Knead until smooth. I like to do the bulk of the kneading with an electric stand mixer using the dough hook attachment (for about 4 minutes), and then finish it up by hand. The dough starts out a little wet, so add small amounts of flour as you go (not too much) to keep it from sticking to your hands. The end result should be smooth and slightly tacky, but not sticky. (King Arthur Flour has a nice kneading tutorial here.)

Oil your bowl with cooking spray and place the dough inside. Spray the top of the dough, then cover loosely with plastic wrap or a cotton towel. Let rise in a warm place until roughly doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently for about a minute. Shape into a sandwich loaf (see this King Arthur Flour tutorial) and place into an oiled standard loaf pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a cotton towel and let rise until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Bake until golden brown and internal temperature registers at 190 degrees, about 45-60 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Let cool another hour before serving.

Pictured: Corning Ware Blue Cornflower P-315-B Loaf Dish, Pyrex Yellow 404 Round Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Spring Blossom 444 Cinderella Mixing Bowl