Step 1: Get easy No-Knead Bread recipe from your brother who’s been raving about how easy it is to make bread with this recipe and how there won’t be a need to ever have to buy bread again.
Step 2: Read recipe instructions. Gain confidence knowing that this bread recipe is the most famous bread recipe in the world because it does not require any kneading. Apparently, this is a great thing because now you can get a professional quality, chewy European-style loaf of bread made right in your home oven.
Step 3: Pop into your corner grocery store to buy yeast. Discover that they only sell active yeast rather than the instant yeast the recipe calls for. Wonder what that funny smell is. Realise it’s from the active yeast. Ignore it. Google it to find out you can substitute one for the other. You just have to proof the active yeast first before using.
Step 4: Gather your laundry on a lazy Saturday morning. Toss your laundry into the washing machine and then make bread while waiting to transfer your clothes into the dryer.
Step 5: Bring out your ingredients. Begin by proofing yeast by adding a small amount of warm water to the yeast. Watch it dissolve in the liquid.
Step 6: Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add water and mix until blended into a beautiful, stretchy, sticky dough. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and now you will let it rise. Check the instructions. Let it rest for 18 hours?? It’s 1pm on a Saturday and 18 hours from now is 8:00am the next morning. You want to sleep in so you ignore instructions and wake up at 10:30am the next day. Heck, what’s an extra 2.5 hours.
Step 7: Check on dough. Find that its surface is covered with bubbles just like the recipe says. Great sign! Wonder why there is dough stuck to the top of the plastic wrap?
Step 8: Lightly flour kitchen counter then place dough on it. Sprinkle more flour on it and fold it over on itself once or twice. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes.
Step 9: Generously coat a cotton dish towel with flour and put the dough seam down on the towel. Cover with another towel and let rise for 2 hours until its size is doubled.
Step 10: Check on dough 2 hours later. Discover that the dough looks exactly the same size. Check on dough another hour later. Dough still looks the same. Leave it for another 3 hours and then check on it. Still looks exactly the same. Wonder if perhaps the dough had risen and then fallen which is why there was dough stuck to the plastic wrap? What do you know, you’re no bread expert.
Step 11: Heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6 to 8 quart cast iron (or enamel, pyrex or ceramic) in oven while it heats for about 30 minutes.
Step 12: Transfer dough into the pot seam side up. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack. Admire your masterpiece.
Step 13: Slice bread and taste. Discover that it’s extremely gummy and difficult to chew. In fact, it is practically inedible. Come to the realisation that your bread experiment has failed. Accept that there’s not going to be any homemade bread to turn into sandwiches for lunch that week.
Step 14: Just before you toss loaf out, get brilliant idea to keep and let it dry out to be made into homemade breadcrumbs.
Step 15: Leave exposed for a week or until rock hard. Whiz in food processor. Voila, you have a ton of breadcrumbs that you can freeze and use for many delicious meals from cutlets to pasta to meatloaf and so much more.
Adapted from Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery’s recipe
What you need:
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
What to do:
1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, put a 4-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven and preheat the oven to 450°. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.