This recipe comes from Azélia’s Kitchen, although it might have some primordial origin in Dan Lepard’s website. Wherever it came from, it’s a success. It produces a lovely loaf of white bread in a fraction of the time that the traditional no-knead method requires. The New York Times version, which is annoyingly written in pounds and ounces and cups, suggests 18-24 hours yeast bubbly-bubble-fermentation, but this recipe has none of that. All metric weight measure (Yippee! Flour should always be weighed!) and kneading is done by gently and quickly folding the dough several times at hourly intervals for 2 or 3 times — fold, wait an hour, fold, wait an hour, fold-shape-pop-in-the-tin to rise 20-minutes. Azélia suggests only using fingertips rather than soiling ones entire hand. She’s obviously a lady of high skill, because I had dusty flour smudges from my knees to my nose … and thankfully remembered to remove my wedding band before taking the plunge into this highly tactile, meaning sticky, … erm … blobby concoction.
The full recipe with extensive directions and photos is at Azélia’s Everyday No-Knead Bread webpage. Don’t try printing it unless you have 60 A4 sheets of paper to spare. I highly recommend either hydration percentage recipes on her website. I’ve tried both, and both produce two good 1lb (small) loaves. I haven’t attempted using a 2lb tin which should hold the dough produced from 500 grams flour.
The crumb and texture on this loaf of bread is simply amazing, considering (1.) that it’s dead easy to make, and (2.) that I made it. I mean, I’m always amazed that I can produce a loaf of delicious bread because I thought for years and years that only well-honed, trained, very experienced cooks could make bread. Paashah to that! Try it!
Preheat oven to 220C/gas mark 7 at least 20-minutes prior to placing the bread in the oven. The oven must be at full temperature to achieve ‘oven spring’, meaning that initial oomph-rise that the dough does when it hits the high heat — It rises quickly.
Azélia’s Easy Everyday No-Knead White Bread
500 grams white bread flour
10 grams salt
1×7 grams sachet easy fast yeast
300 grams tepid water
20 grams oil (not extra virgin olive oil)
Combine dry ingredients well in bowl, then add oil and water. Total liquid should not exceed 350 grams. Stir well, then mix with finger tips so that all the flour is thoroughly mixed into dough. Either leave to rest or fold several times at hourly intervals, shaping in 1lb tin at the end of the 2nd or 3rd rise. Place tins in a preheated oven at 220C/gas mark 7 (with a tray of 500ml cold water set on the bottom of the oven) and bake for 35-40 minutes or until it sounds hollow when you rap on the bottom of the loaf. Be sure to thoroughly read the instructions at Azélia website, as I have not included all of her instructions, tip and comments on this page.
1. I found the folding action confusing at first since I’m more acquainted with the traditional kneading action. Next time I think it will come more naturally.
2. Azélia advised her preferred bread storage method to me (on Twitter). If the loaf is to be eaten on the same day, just place the cut side down on a wooden board. If kept overnight, place it in a plastic bag. If freezing, slice and then freeze, being sure to thaw thoroughly before using. Happily, her advice confirmed what I already do, so hurray for me.
3. My bread Yoda, Joanna, suggests I try folding the dough on an oily work surface and use the flour last. So oil first; flour last. I’ll try that next time.