Let’s talk about bread. I love bread and pasta and carbs in general and never joined the no-carb diet bandwagon because of my love affair with carbs. Unfortunately for me, I could not eat store-bought bread in the US, with very rare exceptions, because of a severe allergy to soy. This was a huge blow to me in college when I discovered the allergy and couldn’t eat store-bought bread anymore. I wanted to eat bread, but I couldn’t and was a bit depressed about it. That is, until my wonderful parents sent me a bread machine for my dorm room. I was so happy to eat bread again and making it fresh every couple of days really opened my eyes to how much better the homemade kind is compared to the store-bought kind.
When we moved to Switzerland, I was very excited because Europe is known for having awesome and easily accessible bakeries! Its true, there are indeed lots of bakeries over here and the bread from the store bakery is top quality. However, I do miss having super fresh, still warm bread from time to time, especially since I don’t have a bread machine over here. I have been looking at all the bread recipes on Pinterest and just itching to try them, but it is a bit of a pain if you have to knead it twice and let it rise twice. Then, I started seeing all these easy crusty no-knead bread recipes. I was a little skeptical at first, but I recently gave in and tried one.
Can I just say: AH-MAZ-ING! This was a serious life-changer for me because its so easy to do and you can spend 15 minutes before you go to bed to prep the dough and then just bake it in the morning when you get up and voila: freshly-baked bread with very little effort.
The recipe I chose to use for my easy crusty no-knead bread was from a lovely blog by Janet called Simply So Good. She has excellent photos and a great forum with answers to all the questions about this recipe; its very helpful.
To start my easy crusty no-knead bread, I gathered up all my ingredients. I chose to use “normal” dry yeast because here in Switzerland its either that or the fresh kind and unfortunately, the fresh kind doesn’t last very long. Because I was using dry yeast, I got 1/4 cup warm water (between 105 and 115 degrees F) and added the yeast to let it activate for 5 minutes.
In the mean time, I combined the flour and salt.
Once the yeast had activated for 5 minutes, I added the yeast-water and 1 1/4 cups more of water to the bowl and mixed well.
That’s all you have to do to make the dough! Just cover your bowl and let it sit on the counter for 12 – 18 hours or overnight.
In the morning, I grabbed my glass casserole dish (from Walmart for about $5 years ago) and popped it in the oven to preheat to 450 degrees. According to the recipe, you can use pretty much any oven-safe bowl/casserole/pot (no plastic!) and Janet recommended a Le Cruest ceramic pot. My glass dish worked just fine. After starting the oven to preheat, I checked my dough to find that it had risen very nicely. I dumped it out of the bowl onto a well-floured surface and formed it into a ball and covered with plastic wrap. That took about 2 minutes. Then, I just left it on the counter for 30 minutes while the oven pre-heated.
After 30 minutes, I used my oven mitts to retrieve the glass dish from the oven, then plopped the bread into it. Be careful not to touch the pot when you do this because its hot! Then, the bread went into the oven for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, it will look amazing with a nice cracked crust. Take off the lid and let it bake 15 minutes more. This is when you will really get a nice bread crust, don’t skip this!
Take the bread out after the extra 15 minutes with the lid off and let it cool on a baking rack. I like to let bread cool for 10 minutes before cutting it because I find it slices more easily that way.
But seriously, this recipe for easy crusty no-knead bread is amazing, so please pop on over to Simply So Good for the recipe and to check out her forum with answers to all the questions about this bread. You can also see her other awesome recipes, including some flavored versions of this easy crusty no-knead bread like rosemary lemon Gruyere and cranberry orange almond.