A Clever Variation of an “Old” Theme
My hat is off to CooksIllustrated.com for formulating a worthy variation to the now famous New York Times no knead recipe. They call it their “Almost No Knead” bread since it involves a bit of light kneading, but another key step in the process is streamlined so overall their recipe is still a cinch to make.
If you’re already familiar with the “traditional” no knead recipe, I think you will find the final results of this one significantly different in almost all respects. This crust has a nice crunch to it but is much thinner and easier to chew and the interior crumb is tighter (smaller holes) and softer. I wouldn’t classify this bread as “rustic” like I would the NYT version.
But what really sets this recipe apart is its flavor. The addition of a few ounces of beer and a tablespoon of white vinegar creates a unique and pleasing flavor all its own.
In these videos I cover the Cooks Illustrated plain white flour and whole wheat flour versions.
This recipe also converts extremely well to sandwich loaf bread. In the third video below, I do just that.
I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of this bread – please leave your comments below.
Update: See Virginia’s comment post of 8/22/08. She made a few changes to get great results with a rye version (click link) of this recipe.
The thinner crust and softer, tighter crumb of the Almost No Knead recipe, combined with its subtle flavors, makes it a nice candidate for a sandwich loaf. Here’s a video of the process with the the adjusted ingredient quantities.
18 ounces (~3 2/3 cups) flour. Use all white or a combination of white and up to 6 ounces whole wheat.
1 3/4 tsp salt
3/8 tsp. instant yeast
1 cup (8 ounces) water
1/2 cup (4 ounces) beer
1 1/4 Tbs white vinegar
2 1/2 Tbs honey (I use raw sugar instead). The honey is suggested only when baking the whole wheat version of this recipe.
Baking Instructions: Preheat oven to 425. Place bread pan with risen dough in oven and reduce temperature to 350. Bake for 55 minutes or until internal bread temperature is about 200 degrees. Note that in the video I’m using a Pyrex bread pan. A metal bread pan would probably bake a few minutes faster.
Note: some have reported an issue with the loaf sticking to the bread pan. After buttering/oiling the baking pans, cornmeal can be sprinkled liberally on the insides and bottom of the pans. This eliminates the bread sticking to the sides while baking. Thanks to Tom & Melody DeGraziano for this tip.