Wednesday, May 23, 2012

No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread

Yesterday, in order to kill time before this baby arrives, I waddled over to my local library and spent some quality time perusing the cookbook aisle. There's nothing that gets me inspired to cook and bake like pouring through beautiful cookbooks. I admit that I own an embarrassing amount of cookbooks but for some reason its just never enough. So after about 30 minutes where I actually ended up sitting on the floor of the library aisle, I mean who is really going to tell the big pregnant lady to get up after all? I was lucky enough to stumble upon Jim Lahey's book entitled My Bread - The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method. I've read some buzz about this book before online and so I knew as soon as I saw the book that I had to try it. The promise of No-Knead and No-Work  appealed to me right away. How can baking bread possibly be no work? I was intrigued.

The key to Lahey's method is to use very little yeast and a very long rise time...18 hours in fact. So you really need to plan ahead if you want to make this bread. Lahey claims the long fermentation period is what gives his bread the flavour and structure of artisanal quality bread. The other twist is that he bakes his bread in a covered cast-iron or ceramic pot which accomplishes what a brick oven does by creating steam in the pot to result in a fantastic crust and a moist bread crumb.

All in all I was blown away by the results! I would never have guessed that I myself could bake such a loaf that tastes just like I picked it up from some sort of artisanal bakery. I will definitely be giving a few more of Lahey's recipes a try, probably pizza dough or focaccia will be next on my list.

Unfortunately I do not actually own a covered cast-iron or ceramic pan and so I ended up using a glass pyrex casserole dish with a glass lid which seemed to work well. Although perhaps this is a good excuse for me to go buy one?

Jim Lahey's No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread
from My Bread

21/2 cups bread flour (I just used regular white flour here)
3/4 cups whole wheat flour
11/4 teaspoons table salt
1/2 teaspoons yeast
11/3 cups cool water
wheat bran, cornmeal or additional flour for dusting (I used a handful of ground flax seed)

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add water and incorporate by hand or with a wooden spoon or spatula for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Lightly coat the inside of a second medium bowl with olive oil and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest 12 hours at room temperature (approx. 65-72°F).
Remove the dough from the bowl and fold once or twice. Let the dough rest 15 minutes in the bowl or on the work surface. Next, shape the dough into ball. Generously coat a cotton towel with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal; place the dough seam side down on the towel and dust with flour. Cover the dough with a cotton towel and let rise 1-2 hours at room temperature, until more than doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 450-500°F. Place the pot in the oven at least 30 minutes prior to baking to preheat. Once the dough has more than doubled in volume, remove the pot from the oven and place the dough in the pot seam side up. Cover with the lid and bake 30 minutes Then remove the lid and bake 15-30 minutes uncovered, until the loaf is nicely browned.


  1. This loaf looks fabulous! Well done.

  2. Awesome! The only bread I have ever made is with a bread maker sometime in the 90s. I have been thinking about all you pregnant mamas and keep expecting to see a birth announcement in my inbox when I wake up;)

  3. Meghan, I sure hope so! I'm officially at 39 weeks now so hopefully soon:) My bladder can't take much more of this. Tina is 3 days overdue now, poor girl.