Almost No-Knead Bread (Artisan Sourdough Bread)

Baking pan: Best to use enameled cast-iron Dutch oven with tight-fitting led. But will work with a regular cast-iron Dutch oven or heavy stockpot. The first time, I used my cast-iron Dutch oven; but it did seem to sort of burn off a bit of the seasoning!  So, I went out and bought an enameled cast iron dutch oven (Target had one, a very nice one for ~$39.

  •  3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp instant active yeast  
  • 1 ½ tsp table salt
  • ¾ c plus 2 tbl water (at room temp)
  • ¼ c plus 2 tbl beer (like Bud or Miller Light)
  • 1 tbl white vinegar

 Step 1: Wisk flour, yeast and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer and vinegar. Using rubber spatula/spoon, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. (doesn’t take long) Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.

Note: I’ve left it as long as 2 days – by mistake. It didn’t seem to affect it

 Step 2: Lay 12 by18” piece of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray w/ nonstick cooking spray.  Transfer dough to lightly floured board and knead 10 to 15 TIMES. (doesn’t even seem to take this long) Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment paper-lined skillet and spray dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temp until dough has doubled in size (about 2 hours). The kneading is quick, easy and makes a very satiny bread dough.

 Step 3: ~ 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6-8 quart Dutch oven - with lid on - on rack and heat oven to 500 degrees.  Lightly flour top of dough and make one 6” long, ½ “deep slit along top of dough (important!). Carefully take out hot Dutch Oven. Lift dough, using the parchment paper, and place in the hot pot. Cover hot pot with hot lid and put back into oven. Immediately turn oven temp DOWN to 425 degrees.  Bake ½ hour. Then remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees ~ 20 to 30 minutes. Total bake time ~ 1 hour.

 NOTE: My stove is old and I don’t think the oven temp is accurate. So, I’ve been fooling around with temperatures. Now I preheat my oven to 475 degrees to heat the whole pot, then lower it to a little below 425 for the baking. This seems to work the best. But still sometimes the crust is still a bit more brown than I’d really prefer. Since I’ve been using ¾ tsp instant yeast it doesn’t seem to get quite as over browned. I never have achieved the instant thermometer reading of 210 -more like 205. But it doesn’t seem to matter. My next try, I’m going to let it in the covered hot pot for another 10 minutes. Then bake it only ~15ish more min. without the top.

 Remove from pot and cool on wire rack to room temp ~2 hours. But of course I didn’t wait that long to pile on butter and jam! After cooling/eating some, I put the rest in a plastic bag and after a day or two, just refrigerate it. It lasts a long time in the fridge and the crust holds up quite well even in the plastic bag.

 This is definitely the best bread I’ve ever made. I’ve dumped all my other bread recipes. Yummy, brown crunchy crust and tender inside. One of these days, I’m going to try making rolls out of the recipe.

 Bread Variations:

  • Olive, Rosemary and Parmesan Bread. Add 4 oz finely grated Parmesan (~2 cups) and 1 tbl minced fresh rosemary leaves to flour mixture in step one.  Add ½ c pitted, chopped green olives with water in Step 1.
  •  Seeded Rye Bread. Replace 1 3/8 cups white flour with 1 1/8 c rye flour. Add 2 tbl caraway seeds to flour mixture in Step 1. NOTE: I bet this would make great rye rolls; but the pot size might be a problem (maybe just bake it in the oven on a hot baking stone – but there does seem to be something about the dough being surrounded by hot iron)  I tried this; it was very good!
  • Whole Wheat Bread. Replace 1 c white flour w/ 1 c whole wheat flour. Stir 2 tbl honey into water before adding it to dry ingredients in Step 1. Tried this too! Good too.
  • Cranberry-Pecan Bread. Follow basic recipe for bread, adding ½ c dried cranberries and ½ c toasted pecan halves to dry ingredients in Step 1.

-R. Johnson, Juneau, WI

Cranberry Bread

  • 2 cups flour                   
  • ½ teaspoon salt                      
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder   
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda          
  • 1 cup sugar                   
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 egg, beaten                        
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • ½ cup chopped nuts
  • 1 cup cut cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel

 Sift dry ingredients together; add egg, butter, orange juice and water; mix until dry ingredients are moistened.  Fold in nuts, cranberries and orange peel; pour into greased 4½ x 8½ x 2½ “ loaf pan.  Bake at 325° about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Anadama Bread

  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 T shortening 2 yeast cakes / OR
  • 1/2 cup black molasses 2 T granular yeast
  • 3 teaspoons salt 5 to 6 cups white flour

Combine cornmeal, shortening, molasses and salt. Pour over the mixture 2 cups boiling water, stirring well till shortening is melted. Cool to luke warm. Crumble yeast cakes into luke warm mixture. Stir until softened and well-blended. Add 5 to 6 cups white flour, one cup at a time, to make a stiff dough. Knead lightly. Place in greased bowl, cover with clean cloth and set in a warm place to rise till doubled in bulk. Turn out of bowl and knead again. Divide in two and place in greased loaf pans to rise again till double in bulk. Bake 45 minutes at 375}. Makes 2 loaves.

Black Walnut Bread

  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup commercial sour cream
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped black walnuts

Mix egg, sugar and sour cream. Blend in sifted dry ingredients. Fold in nuts. Bake in greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch loaf pan in slow oven at 325° for one hour, or until done (when wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean).