No-Knead Bread

In the morning, I have a habit of flipping through How to Cook Everything over breakfast. I’ll open to a random page and skim a few recipes, then move on with my day. A few weeks ago I did this and found the page for Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread. It sounded fascinating – bread you barely touch that comes out fancy and artisanal? Rock on! I finally got a chance to try it over the weekend, and I now believe this is one of the best things I’ve ever made. If I made this for a person I was trying to court he’d fall in love with me instantly. Kings would bow to me and presidents would give me medals.

I am convinced this bread ends wars.

I won’t post the recipe here for two reasons. One: mine came directly from a copyrighted book and I respect intellectual property rights. Two: it’s really easy to find online. I will, however, share the process.

 This was my first attempt at the dough. It was entirely too wet and I ended up pitching it. (Side note: too-wet whole wheat bread dough makes an incredibly convincing fake puke.)

 The second attempt, and the one that worked out. It’s wet and shaggy, per instructions, but not too wet. At this point, before the first (18-hour!) rise, I was not entirely convinced this would work.

 After a few hours it was obvious the yeast was behaving exactly as it was supposed to. Good yeast!

 And after the 18 hours had passed, the dough looked like the best and most delicious kind of swamp beast. Success! At this point the dough also had a lovely slightly sour flavor, which made me want to figure out no-knead sourdough bread.

 The loaf about to go into the oven. I used a small amount of oat bran during the last rising to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface, and also because oat bran is awesome and deserves to be in everything, more or less.

 Is this not one of the prettiest things you’ve ever seen? I had to let it sit for 30 minutes before I could cut it, during which time I nearly went mad with desire. The smell. You can’t imagine how good it smells.

 The delicious perfect chewy air-holey interior that takes oh so well to a smear of butter or a fried egg.

I may have to make more tonight.

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Fear me, for I have made cheese.

I have made cheese. Twice now. The first batch was ok. Bland, but decent. Sadly I accidentally left it out on the stove all day and I had to pitch it. The second batch was quite lovely. It got eaten on crackers with mango chutney.

As it turns out, this is pretty easy stuff to make. I followed a recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, and it worked out pretty well. Below, some pictures from the making of the first batch. Continue reading