Amazing Artisan Bread [Awesome Pizza Crust!] - No Kneading, No Fussing, No Kidding


Tried this today. It was awesome!!
       I found this recipe via Margaret at: http://theirishmother.blogspot.com - where she used it for pizza crust, and she pointed to the original listing at:
http://theitaliandishblog.com where it can be used for pretty much any kind of bread I might want. 
       What the what?!!? WOOT! This is joy to me. It makes dough for about 4 loaves  [or more, if going smaller] and justs sit in your fridge until ready to use. What the?! How AWESOME is that?!
**When using for Pizza, keep in mind the dough will puff to 2 or 3 times the thickness it is going into the oven, so roll it as thin as you can without being able to see through it.
For a 12" round crust, it took 18 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit to be perfect, and that was with the dough rolled close to 1/2 inch thick. [Very tasty, reminded my husband and I of Pizza Hut's hand-tossed crust. Next time I'll go a tad thinner though.] I also, lightly dusted the crust with garlic powder before baking. YUM!
     Oh, and let it sit on the greased pan you plan to use for 30 minutes [as instructed] BEFORE attempting to shape or flatten it. Don't be impatient like me. I didn't want to wait and it kept drawing back up into a ball. But after I [ ug] waited...it was happy to spread and shape at my whim. Flour the dough lightly so your hands won't stick to it.
     Also, when baking a pizza, there is no need for the separate dish of water to be added to the oven, or scoring the dough as mentioned below in the instructions.
      I made a small garlic and Rosemary loaf, and it was awesome. There is a fairly limitless variety of breads you can try here. I plan to add a cup of shredded sharp cheddar to my next loaf.
      Ok, lemme see, it there anything else I need to add? Nope. So let's talk about this awesome bread.
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ABOUT THE DOUGH:
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The key is mixing up a high moisture, or "slack" dough, and letting it do a long fermentation in the refrigerator. It's long been known that a long fermentation contributes flavor to dough but it seems it also develops gluten and eliminates the step of kneading. The advantage in using refrigeration is that you can control the fermentation and you can make up a large batch of dough, enough for four loaves, and keep it in the fridge.  If you make a very wet dough, it will be able to last in the refrigerator a long time, gaining flavor as it ferments and allowing you to make bread whenever you decide. This bread is absolutely a no-brainer.  You mix up a big batch of dough in one container, a process which takes only a couple of minutes.  When you want bread, you cut off a hunk of dough and shape it. You can make various sizes and shapes: boules, batards, rolls or baguettes. It's just so convenient and makes such a beautiful bread with a crackly crust, you won't believe it.  

In this recipe, instant yeast is used, which eliminates the need for "proofing" the yeast.  Everything is simply mixed together. 
One way of letting the dough rest and rise is to place a small square of parchment paper on the pizza peel and put the dough right on that.  When I slide it into the oven, it goes in along with the parchment paper and bakes up beautifully.  If you want an extra crispy crust, just remove the parchment paper halfway through the baking time and return the bread to the pizza stone - this is what I do.
The dough can be stored in any plastic container with a lid or a bowl with plastic wrap placed over it. You want the gases to be able to escape as the dough rises, though - so wrap the plastic wrap over the bowl tightly and then puncture a little hole in the top.  It is nice to have a dedicated plastic container, though, in the fridge for your dough, because you are going to just keep it in there all the time.  I used a square plastic-lidded container and placed the lid on making contact with 3 corners and leaving the last loose [so, the lid is NOT firmly closed]. This is important to do.
So get out a bowl if you don't have a plastic container, mix up a batch of dough and have your first loaf tomorrow.  You won't believe it.  

No Knead Artisan Bread
makes four 1 pound loaves.
Ingredients:
  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons granulated fast acting (instant) yeast (2 packets) 
  • 2 tsp kosher or other coarse salt, [the original recipe calls for 1.5 TB, but even using 1 TBSP mine still tasted way more salty than I care for]
  • 7 cups unsifted, unbleached all purpose white flour
 If the dough is just too sticky for you to work with comfortably, increase the flour in your next batch.  
Instructions:
Mixing and Storing the Dough
1.  Warm the water slightly.  It should feel just a little warmer than body temperature, about 100 degrees F. Warm water will rise the dough to the right point for storage in about 2 hours.  
2.  Add yeast and salt to the water in a 5 quart bowl or a plastic container with a lid. 
3.  Mix in the flour - kneading is unnecessary.  (Note: I dump all this in my KitchenAid mixer, let it mix it for just about 10 seconds and then put it in the plastic container.  I just find it easier to let the mixer do this part). Add all of the flour at once, measuring the flour by scooping it and leveling it off with a knife.  Mix with a wooden spoon - do not knead.  You're finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches.  This step is done in a matter of minutes.  The dough should be wet and loose.

4.  Allow to rise. Cover with a lid (not airtight).  Lidded plastic buckets designed for dough storage can be purchased many places.  (I used a plastic square food storage container at my local grocery store.  I just make sure that the lid is not snapped on completely).  You want the gases to be able to escape a little.  Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flattens on top), about two hours. Longer rising times will not hurt your dough. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period. Fully refrigerated wet dough is less sticky and is easier to work with than dough at room temperature.  So, the first time you try this method, it's best to refrigerate the dough overnight (or at least 3 hours) before shaping a loaf.
Baking
5.  Shape your loaf.  Place a piece of baking parchment paper on a pizza peel (don't have a pizza peel - use an unrimmed baking sheet or turn a rimmed baking sheet upside down).   Sprinkle the surface of your dough in the container with flour.  Pull up and cut off about a 1-pound piece of dough (about the size of a grapefruit), using scissors or a serrated knife.  Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball as you go.  Dust your hands with flour if you need to.  This is just to prevent sticking - you don't want to incorporate the flour into the dough.  The top of the dough should be smooth - the object here is to create a "gluten cloak" or "surface tension".  It doesn't matter what the bottom looks like, but you need to have a smooth, tight top.  This whole step should take about 30 seconds!  Place the dough onto your parchment paper or greased pan.

6. Let the loaf set out and come to room temp. for about 30 - 40 minutes (it does not need to be covered).  If it doesn't look like it has risen much, don't worry - it will in the oven.  This is called "oven spring".

7. Preheat a baking stone [I don't have one- GASP!  So I just used a greased metal baking pan] on the middle rack in the oven for about 20 minutes at 450 degrees F.  **Place an empty rimmed metal baking pan [DON'T use glass pie plate!!! It will shatter [ask me how I know...] ] or broiler pan on a rack below the baking stone.  This pan is for holding water for steam in the baking step. ** (If you don't have a baking stone, you can use a baking sheet, but you will not get the crisp crust on the bottom.  You will still have a great loaf of bread.) I've also heard that you can throw a handfull of ice cubes into the bottom of the oven for the same effect.
**confession: I OFTEN skip this step entirely**

8. Dust the loaf with a little flour and slash the top with a knife.  This slashing is necessary to release some of the trapped gas, which can deform your bread. [ I have NOT found this to be true, or even a fctor in how my bread turns out. But it does look fancy with the slits.] It also makes the top of your bread look pretty - you can slash the bread in a tic tac toe pattern, a cross, or just parallel slashes.  You need a very sharp knife or a razor blade - you don't want the blade to drag across the dough and pull it.  As the bread bakes, this area opens and is known as "the bloom".  Remember to score the loaves right before baking.  
9.  Bake.  Set a cup of water next to your oven.  Slide the bread (including the parchment paper) right onto the hot baking stone.  Quickly pour the water right into the pan underneath the baking stone and close the oven door. **I've also heard that you can throw a handfull of ice cubes into the bottom of the oven for the same effect.** This creates the necessary steam  to make a nice crisp crust on the bread.  Bake at 450 F for about 20 - 25 minutes, depending on the size of your loaf - [20 minutes works perfect for a loaf using a wad of dough the size of a softball- which makes a small loaf perfect for our family of five to finish off with dinner].  Make sure the crust is a deep golden brown.  When you remove the loaf from the oven, you will hear it crackle for a while.  In baking terms, this is called "sing" and it is exactly what you want.
**Confession time AGAIN: I often skip this step too, especially if making a Garlic and Rosemary bread, it comes out perfect without the steam and whatnot**]

10.  Cool.  Allow the bread to cool for the best flavor and texture.  It's tempting to eat it when it's warm, and that's fine, but the texture is better after the bread has cooled.

11.  Store the remaining dough in the refrigerator in your lidded (with a hole punched in the top)  container and use for up to 14 days. Every day your bread will improve in flavor. Cut off and shape more loaves as you need them.  When your dough is gone, don't clean the container.  Go ahead and mix another batch - the remaining bits of dough will contribute flavor to the next batch, much like a sourdough starter does!
***Here is the beauty of this dough recipe; at the end of the two weeks, remove whatever dough you have left from your bin.  Without washing bin, stir together new dough ingredients, place new dough right on top of the old.  Cover bin and leave out overnight or 24 hours.  This new batch is now good for 2 more weeks.  This works, I've done it several times and plan on keeping this dough going, it just gets better!
Bread is best eaten the day it is baked. Leftover baked bread is best stored at room temperature, unwrapped. Simply place the cut side of the bread on plate or counter.  If your bread is gummy on the inside, try either increasing the amount of flour by 1/4 cup and/or increasing the baking time by 5-10 minutes. 

Article originally appeared on The Italian Dish (http://theitaliandishblog.com/).
See website for complete article licensing information.

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