Tuesday, January 19, 2010

the mark bittman minimalist club: no-knead bread for monkeys

According to the data I have been collecting here at the high-tech, state-of-the-art GFD lab, one out of three meals I consume consists of leftovers, usually reheated on my Bunsen burner. I'm currently surviving on leftovers from a dinner we made for friends on Saturday night, so for the rest of the week I'm going to share with you some of the menu items from Saturday night's dinner, as well as their later incarnations (which are sometimes identical).

Let's start with the bread, a collaboration (you could call it a threesome) among my husband, the yachtsman; my boyfriend, Mark Bittman; and some other guy. I've never actually made this bread, but the yachtsman tells me it's so easy, a monkey could bake it, which is good news for all of us who own monkeys. It does require 24 hours of lead time, but other than that, effort is minimal, and the results amazing (soft, chewy interior, and a golden-brown crust that shatters). Making this bread is like inviting a supermodel to your dinner party; the bread gets all the attention. Slather a warm slice with salty butter and it's like slathering the supermodel at your dinner party with butter, except not all pervy like you're thinking. It's just really good, really good-lookin' bread, and this is the best butter ever.

No-Knead Bread
Adapted by the yachtsman from the New York Times

3 cups all-purpose, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1½ teaspoons salt

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 [the yachtsman sez the longer the better], 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 and your fingers with a little more flour and fold the dough over on itself once or twice, then gently shape it into a ball. [The yachtsman puts his ball into a proofing basket but says this is not necessary.] Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour. 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.

3. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. 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 OK. 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.

The morning after he baked it, the yachtsman used his supermodel bread to make his haggish wife a griddled egg sandwich. Griddled, bitches. Happy leftovers to me.


  1. oh my goodness, that bread looks so good and a little heartbreaking since i've been off the sugar and carbs for about 10 days now...it ends today...oh, yes, it ends today...

  2. I've never tried to quit carbs, but remind me to tell you sometime about my brief (very brief) hiatus from dairy and sugar. It involved lots of crying and ended when the yachtsman pulled into a Wendy's drive-through, ordered a Frosty, and commanded me to start slurping, god bless him.

  3. That griddled (one of my favorite words) egg samich looks amazing!! How do I get the yachtsman to sail over to my house and make me one?!?!