Although I've know about the No-Knead bread baked in a large pot for a while, I never tried it.
Looking for a change of pace, I finally tried it. At the end of last week, before we left for our anniversary trip, I took the sourdough starter 'toss-off' and made some really slack dough. I didn't use the stand mixer, just stirred the usual flour and water mixture in with a wooden spoon. Once that had sat for an hour or so and was bubbly, I stirred in bread flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until it was almost the density I was looking for. Next I added a teaspoon and a half of sea salt and the last 1/4 cup bread flour. This was basic, basic bread...wild yeast, all-purpose and unbleached bread flours, salt and water.
The instructions for getting the dough ready for the pot included making it into a ball. Well, like that Garlic Bread, this dough was too soft and runny to create a ball. What I did instead was to heavily flour a piece of parchment paper, dump the dough onto it, lift the edges with my bench scraper and put more flour underneath as I did, then eventually I flipped half the dough over on top of the other half and sprinkled the top heavily with flour.
The recommendations for baking bread in the pot are to put the pot into the oven and let it heat along with the oven until both are very hot...about 20 minutes. Then you take the pot out of the oven, slide in the dough, cover it up and put it back into the oven. Since (mostly) the dough was on flour, it slid off the parchment and into the preheated pot and only needed a little adjustment once in the pot.
By baking it this way you are creating a small oven inside of the larger oven. It captures the moisture from the dough as it bakes. The loaf rose in the center and got really beautifully crusty top and bottom. I took the cover off for the last 10 minutes and that may have helped give it a crisp crust.
We loved this bread with its chewy texture and lots of holes. Great crust combined with a moist crumb and tangy sourdough taste is easy to like. It makes wonderful toast, too.
No-Knead Bread in a Pot Elle's Way
makes 1 large loaf
1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups water
2 -3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Put the sourdough starter in a large bowl. In another bowl whisk together the all-purpose flour and the water. Add it to the starter and whisk to blend. Let bowl sit, uncovered, on the counter for at least 1 hour...it's OK for it to sit longer (another hour or two is OK) for a stronger sourdough flavor.
Stir the bread flour into the starter mixture 1/4 cup at a time with a wooden spoon, stirring until all the flour is mixed in before adding any more. You should have a shaggy dough that doesn't hold a shape. When you have added 2 cups of flour, sprinkle in the sea salt, then another 1/4 cup of the flour and finish stirring it in. You will have a very slack dough. You can stop here or add more flour, 1/4 cup at a time but the less flour the more holes.
Let the mixture sit, uncovered, on the counter for 1 1/2 to 4 hours. Mixture will be bubbly.
Place a large piece of parchment paper on the counter and flour it heavily. Place/pour the sourdough mixture over the flour. Using a bench scraper, lift up the dough all around the edges and sprinkle heavily with flour under the edges, then let dough fall on top of the flour. When you have gone all around the dough mass, use the bench scraper to flip half of the dough on top of the other half. Sprinkle top heavily with flour and let sit until pot is ready.
Place heavy cast iron pot or Dutch oven, with lid, in the oven and preheat for 20 minutes to 450 degrees F. When 20 minutes have passed, remove pot and lid from the oven and slide the dough into the pot, discarding the parchment paper. Cover with the lid (remember to use oven mitts for all of this...the pot is very hot!) and return the covered pot to the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 -25 minutes or until loaf is dark golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Let cool, outside of the pot, for 10 minutes on a rack. Serve warm or cool before eating.
NOTE: The New York Times recipe that started the No-Knead craze had the dough ferment much longer, but I was in a hurry and this seemed to work just fine.
Just in case you want to see some travel photos, here we have Sweetie and Xam at a Monterey beach. The Bread Baker's Dog loves to travel and is a good traveler.
This was an especially important trip because we just found out that Xam has an inoperable breathing disorder...it just wore out...he is the equivalent of a 95 year old man so the old guy is getting tuckered out. Unlikely that we will have any more trips with him, but this one was lovely even if the weather was rainy and/or cloudy almost the whole time until we crossed the Golden Gate bridge heading home.