Alchemy

FirstLoaf

Sometimes I’m slow to catch on to trends. It was late 2006 when Mark Bittman wrote about Jim Lahey’s No Knead Bread, and it went viral. That means I’ve been meaning to try this bread for over 7 years. Here’s the original article, or you can watch the video here. (If you don’t know, Mark Bittman makes me swoon.)

The recipe has just four of the most basic ingredients: flour, yeast, salt and water. Why I haven’t I tried it before now? I think it was when I read that the plastic knob on many Dutch oven lids don’t withstand the high temperature called for that I was deterred. My Le Creuset is one of my most prized possessions (not to be materialistic) and I didn’t want to ruin it for bread.

Enter the Bread Dome. An amazing woman I know is the CEO and founder of a company called The Grommet. It is a curated shopping website that launches undiscovered products created by passionate makers with inspiring back stories. You should definitely sign up for their daily emails. One day back in fall, the featured Grommet was the Bread Dome. This seemed like the perfect alternative to my Le Creuset, and a good holiday gift idea.

Bread Dome

The Bread Dome is made of similar material to my pizza stone (it’s actually made by the same company). The inside of the bottom bowl is glazed, but everything else is unglazed. Just like a Dutch oven, the dome acts as a vessel to capture the steam released by the wet dough as it bakes at a very high heat.

So, I finally gave it try. I don’t know why I waited so long. It is SO EASY.

First, I combined flour, yeast, and salt with water, which took ust a few minutes, including taking out the bowl and ingredients, measuring, and stirring. Because my house is so cold this time of year, I used warm water, about 100F. The original recipe doesn’t specify, so I think water straight from the tap is fine. This wet dough sat on the counter for 12 to 18 hours to rise. It’s ready when there are lots of little bubbles on top.

LotsOfBubbles

Next, I turned the bread onto a floured surface and folded it over itself a couple times like folding a letter in thirds to put into an envelope. I did this twice, one set of folds in each direction. The bread rests again for about 15 minutes.

Little Folds

The dough needs one more rise before it is ready to bake. I covered a large baking sheet with a tea towel dusted generously with flour or cornmeal (I prefer how the cornmeal worked). Then, with well floured hands, because the dough is very sticky, I shaped the dough into a ball and placed it seam side down on the towel. Finally, I dusted the round with more flour or cornmeal and covered it with another tea towel before letting it rest for another 2 hours.

DSC05787

About half an hour before the dough was done rising, I placed the bread dome into the oven and set it to preheat to 450F. When the dough was ready, I carefully took the bread dome out of the oven, opened it up and gently transferred the dough to the dome, seam side up.

In the Dome

The lid goes back on and the dome goes back in the oven to bake for 30 minutes. The last step is to remove the lid and let it back another 15 minutes or so, until the loaf is golden brown.

I let the loaf cool on a wire rack until it’s time to cut it open. The crust is perfect, crispy and not soft at all. The crumb is moist and airy, like my favorite artisan loaves. I’m in love with this loaf. I’ve already made it twice. The outer edge does get stale quickly, but when it’s cut off, the inside is still moist and fresh. I think this bread will make amazing croutons. Next time, I’ll play around with some variations, maybe adding some olives for an olive loaf.

If you have a few minutes, give this bread a try. You don’t really need the Bread Dome (though it is fun to get new toys). You could use your Dutch oven, just be careful with the knob if it’s plastic. I hope you are enamored like I am. Let me know what you think. And don’t forget to sign up for The Grommet emails. You never know what you’ll discover.

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Posted on 28 January 2014, in Baking and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I LOVE The Grommet.. Been on their email list for a long time. In particular I love their pet products! :)

  2. Oh man – I love your new toy! Was waiting to see what it looked like. I have a copy of Jim Lahey’s My Bread and have enjoyed several of the recipes (although Aritsan Bread in Five books are by far my favorite when it comes to the no-knead genre…). If I recall correctly, there was an olive loaf in Jim Lahey’s book that I really liked.

    Did you know that you can buy stainless steel knobs for the Le Creuset that are capable of withstanding the high heat for around 10-15$? I bought a couple and changed out the standard knobs with them (Google “Le Creuset metal knobs”). I have also covered my knob with heavy duty tin foil with success (although, that one did make me a little nervous).

    Enjoy your bread!

  3. Love the bread dome – a very worthy addition to the kitchen if it makes easy, good bread possible.

  4. I love your new toy!! It made a gorgeous loaf of bread! I have a long la Cloche clay bread baker, but I have been eyeing the round one for awhile. When I bake this bread I use my le creuset and I have never had trouble with the lids. I’ve been making Jim Lahey’s bread since that article first came out. Love it and there are so many variations. I’ve made one with chocolate and dried cherries. Enjoy your bread baking, Betsy!

  5. I love this recipe… and don’t worry, I was late to that party too! Thanks for the link to Grommet, my wallet may not thank you, but I do!

  6. I LOVE this bread recipe! Though I don’t make it often enough. I use my Le Crueset dutch oven, but do take the knob off first.

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