Sunday 5 August 2007

A healthier kind of baking

M, my fiancé of 2 weeks :), has been the lucky (or unlucky) recipient of much of my efforts in the kitchen - cookies, muffins, ice cream, etc. Since I bake at least once a week, our waistlines are starting to show the effects. M is always urging me to invent baked goodies that are yummy and have NO calories - he swears that will make us millionaires...

Since I have yet to come up with our golden ticket to a life of luxury, last week I decided to bake something that we could indulge in without guilt - bread! Having not had much experience with bread baking and having read so much about the phenomenon of no-knead bread, I decided that this was what I was going to begin my bread baking experiments with.

Although it requires some planning, since the recipe calls for a total of 20 hours of resting time, it couldn't have been simpler. Mind bogglingly simple in fact! To make it even healthier, I made it with whole wheat flour and it turned out great. I should know - M ate the whole loaf!

As for that zero calorie baked wonder, I'm working on it. I swear.

No-knead bread
Adapted from Mark Bittman and Jim Lahey
Yields one 1 1/2 pound loaf

3 cups whole wheat flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Then add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended. The dough will be shaggy and sticky, don't worry about this. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature (~70 degrees).

After 12-18 hours, check the dough. It is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it. Sprinkle the dough with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for another 15 minutes.
Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal. Put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. 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.

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 O.K. 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.


SteamyKitchen said...

I love making this turns out perfect every time even if I deviate from the recipe a bit.

SteamyKitchen said...

oh as for the zero-calorie baked wonder, you'll have to try my negative calorie chocolate cake which actually leaves you -32 calories. Enough to indulge in more sweets!

Helene said...

I love this bread so much that my sourdough starter feels lonely!
I love the ructic look of it and the chewiness which reminds me a lot of the bread I used to get at home.

Caroline said...

Ooh! Negative calorie cake - sounds like heaven ;)