Monday, December 1, 2008

No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread

No-knead, one-rise breads are quite popular among some home cooks. The first no-knead bread I know of came from Doris Grant's book, Your Daily Bread. This version comes from Myrtle Allen, founder of the Ballymaloe House hotel and cooking school
in County Cork, Ireland. She calls it Ballymaloe Brown bread. It's a moderately dense whole wheat bread with a delicious nutty flavor and chewy crust. It quite a hit with the family when I served it with a hearty soup for Sunday dinner.

I had a little trouble with mine, but I'll pass what I learned on to you. Make sure the water you dissolve the yeast in is lukewarm, not cool, so the yeast will activate properly. Also make sure you have a warm place in the kitchen. During the winter months this can be difficult, but both are essential to properly activate the yeast and get a good rise. My water was cold, as was my kitchen, so I didn't get as good of a rise as I could have.

Ballymaloe Brown No-knead Bread


3 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 3/4 cups water
1 teaspoon molasses
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F. Grease an 8” x 4” x 2 1/2” (regular) loaf pan with butter or cooking spray. Place the pan in the oven to warm for about 10 minutes. Turn off the oven, but leave the pan inside to keep warm until you need it.

While the loaf pan is warming, sprinkle the yeast in a 2/3 cup of the water (lukewarm!) and let it sit in a warm place for 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve. Add the molasses and stir a bit. Let it sit for ten minutes until the top gets frothy. Add the rest of the water and stir.

Mix the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Pour in the dissolved yeast mixture. Stir into the flour to form a thick batter. Using your hands, mix the batter gently until it starts to come away clean from the sides, forming a soft, sticky dough.

Pull the warmed loaf pan from the oven and place the dough inside. Cover with a dish towel. Put the dough in a warm area of the kitchen and let it rise until the dough is about 1/ 2 inch above the top the pan, about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.

Turn the oven back on, preheating to 425 degrees F, and bake the loaf for 30 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 400 degrees F and bake for another 15 minutes.

Remove the load from the pan, turning it out onto a cooking sheet and return it to the oven. Bake for an additional ten minutes until golden. If you tap the bottom of the loaf, it should sound hollow. Transfer the loaf to a wire rack, cover with a dish towel, and let it cool completely before slicing. Avoid the temptation to cut this while it's still warm. The cooling process lets the steam from the inside of the bread soften the outer crust. If you slice it right out of the oven, the crust will be hard, not chewy.

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