No-knead Pseudo-Sourdough Rehash

I made mention of this recipe once before but I thought I'd rehash it because:
  1. It just may be my favorite bread ever! It's got a nice chewy crust, and just a hint of the sourdough flavor without the harshness sourdough sometimes gives. Oh, and there's no sourdough starter to maintain either!
  2. The first mention was a pretty popular landing place on my blog, so I thought I'd give it some spotlight time.
  3. It is so super easy that everyone should try it at least once.
  4. I've got pics for most of the steps now.

When I make this bread, I do it in a regular 10" dutch oven, usually in my oven. (I don't always have the patience to wait for the coals, then to feed them while it's cooking.) I suppose you could do this on a sheet pan or in a large casserole dish, but IMHO, everyone should have a dutch oven. :) Heck, it might be worth it to get one just for this recipe!

So how does this recipe work with no kneading and 1/4 tsp of yeast? Time. In order to have a good risen bread you need gluten. One way to develop the gluten is to knead and knead and knead. Another way is to let the bread rise for a long time. This bread uses the latter method obviously, and as far as I'm concerned, takes a lot of the guesswork out of breadmaking. You don't need to worry if it has been kneaded enough, or if there's enough flour in it, or if it has risen long enough. This is almost "Bread for Dummies." Try it. You might like it. And if you do try it, let me know how it goes.

No-knead Pseudo-Sourdough

17 1/2 ounces* bread flour, plus extra for shaping
1/4 teaspoon active-dry yeast
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
12 ounces filtered water
2 tablespoons cornmeal

*Why is the flour measured by weight? Primarily, because that's what Alton Brown does, and this is his recipe. But why does he measure flour by weight? Because, he alleges, flour is easily compactable and your 4 cups of flour may weigh significantly more or less than my 4 cups of flour, leading to there being either too much or too little flour in the recipe. I picked up a dinky little kitchen scale at Wal-Mart for about $4, which does the trick; however, I wouldn't mind it at all if someone were to buy me a nice kitchen scale for Christmas... hint hint

Whisk together the flour, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Add the water and stir until combined.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (do not use a towel or your bread will dry out, develop a skin, and get yucky!) and allow to sit at room temperature for 19 hours.

After 19 hours, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. (You may want to sprinkle the dough lightly with flour if it gets too sticky to work with.) Punch down the dough and turn it over onto itself a couple of times. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rest 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, shape dough into a ball. Coat hands with flour if needed to prevent sticking.

Sprinkle the tea towel with half of the cornmeal and lay the dough on top of it, with the seam side down. Sprinkle the top of the dough with the other half of the cornmeal and cover with the towel. Allow to rise for another 2 to 3 hours or until dough has doubled in size.

Oven baking:
While the dough is rising the second time, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place a 5-quart Dutch oven in the oven while it preheats. Once the dough is ready, carefully transfer it to the preheated Dutch oven. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 15 minutes or until the bread reaches an internal temperature of 210 to 212 degrees F. Transfer the bread to a cooling rack and allow to cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Outdoor coals:
Heat charcoal in a chimney starter until ash covers all of the coals. Place 20 to 24 coals on a Dutch oven table. Set a 5-quart Dutch oven on top of this rack and allow to preheat during the last 30 minutes of the second rise. Carefully transfer the dough to the Dutch oven and cover with the lid. Place 20 coals on top. Bake for 45 minutes or until the bread reaches an internal temperature of 210 to 212 degrees F. Transfer the bread to a cooling rack and allow to cool at least 15 minutes before serving


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