Homemade bread is delicious, decadent and sometimes elusive thing. I love fresh bread, an hour or two out of the oven, crusty and still warm enough to melt butter. That crunchy crust combined with a soft, chewy crumb is pretty hard to beat. But I grew up in a household that valued toast above bread: Toast with butter and marmite for breakfast, baked beans on toast, leftover Bolognese sauce on toast. Toast has become trendy in recent years, but to me it has always been a staple. However, for truly good toast you need to start with good bread.
I have recently forayed into breadmaking and experimented with traditional bread, no-knead bread, sourdough, and even homemade English Muffins. Although I do enjoy spending a couple of days making a delicious sourdough, sometimes I just don’t want to wait that long or put that much effort into something that will inevitably disappear in a few days. This bread started as one the first ones I tried making, from a Food52 recipe that itself was adapted from the wonderful David Leahy’s no-knead method. The first time I tried it, I was blown away with the simpleness of making it and chewy crumb paired with a crunchy crust. Although it had good bubbles within the bread, the shape had stayed quite flat when I turned it into my Dutch Oven to cook, so it wasn’t ideal for making sandwiches. I also wanted something that could be made in one day, so if you thought “I’m craving homemade bread” in the morning, you could be eating some in the late evening or next day without having to spend more than 15 minutes of time on it.
Finally, I wanted a bit of that whole wheat tang and a bread that rose up into a nice dome when cooking. The result is this recipe, which is simple at it’s heart but includes a couple of extra steps to ensure the loaf is well shaped. I’ve found this recipe extremely flexible: I can leave it to rise all day at work, or start shaping at 4 or 5pm for a loaf that could be ready just in time for dinner. I have used both all purpose and bread flour and found each to work, although if you plan to bake more bread I highly suggest picking up some bread flour. Above all, this should prove to you that baking bread doesn’t need to be difficult or time-consuming, and provides you with something healthier than store-bought stuff that you can brag to your friends about all the time.
One Day No Knead Bread
Equipment: Large mixing bowl, bench scraper, Dutch Oven.
120 grams (approx 3/4 cup) whole wheat flour
280 grams (approx 2 cups) bread flour or all purpose flour
1 teaspoon yeast
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
300 grams water (approx 1 1/4 cup) + a little more if needed
(Note: if you don’t have a kitchen scale, I highly recommend getting one for baking. They are not expensive, vastly improve measurements, and reduce the number of dishes you have to wash.)
Bread baking morning: Mix the flour, yeast, and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Add the water and mix – dough should be loose but not too dry. If it’s not coming together at all, add extra water a tablespoon or two at a time until it comes together.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and/or a dish towel. I usually do both. Place in a warm spot to rise. If your kitchen is quite cold, you can very briefly turn on your oven (for 2 mins or so) to heat it up a bit and then turn it off and place the dough in there to rise for 6-10 hours,
Bread baking afternoon/evening: When the dough has about doubled and is dotted with bubbles on the top, tip it out onto a well-floured counter. Bring the four sides of the dough together in the center by bringing the bottom part closest to you into the middle, then the top, and then the sides. Flip the dough so the seam side is down and let rest until it has puffed up a bit more, about an hour.
About a half hour before you plan to bake, preheat your oven to 500 and place a dutch oven in it to heat up. If your dutch oven has a plastic knob (cough, Le Cruset I love you except for this annoying detail), it can be screwed off and filled with foil.
Once the dough has puffed up, shape it by taking a flexible dough scraper and placing it under the far left edge of the dough, then gently dragging it to the right and towards you to create a dome on top of the bread. Continue to do this, moving the bread in a circular motion towards you for a few turns so the shape tightens.
Lift bread onto a cut out parchment round slightly bigger than the dough. Put a couple of slashes in the top with a sharp knife or lame (a razor for this exact purpose). Carefully remove dutch oven from oven, take off top and lift parchment and bread into the dutch oven. Cover and put in oven.
Bake for 20 minutes uncovered, then remove cover and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes until crust is deep golden brown. Take out of dutch oven and place on a rack to cool. Try resisting to cut into it for an hour or two so the bread cools down and the starches set. Enjoy fresh with your toppings of choice!