Recipe 24: No-Knead Pain de Campagne

I still cannot believe it. The bread I have previously made usually turned out pretty dense, so I was a bit discouraged to develop my bread-making skills, but what I made today has changed my mind completely. I looked up some no-knead bread recipes, adapted them to my own likening, and I ended up having the best possible homemade bread ever. And a little surprise: it costs only about a dollar to make 4 small-sized breads!
The problem with no-knead bread is that you have to be patient. You need to let the bread rest overnight in the fridge before you can bake it. However, as the name suggests, you do not have to do any kneading! If you want to know about the science of no-kneading bread, you can Google that. I do not know much about that sort of stuff.

What do you need?
  • Lukewarm water - 1 1/2 cups
  • Yeast, instant - 1 package
  • Salt - 1 tsp
  • All purpose flour - 3 1/4 cups
  • Boiled water - 1 cup
I added sunflower seeds because I love having that in my bread, but this is totally optional.

How to make it?
  1. In a big bowl, stir yeast, salt, and warm water together. The water needs to be warm enough to activate the yeast, but not too warm, because it will kill it. I would suggest a bit warmer than body temperature. Let this sit for about a minute while you measure your flour. (NOTE: boiled water in ingredients list is for much later in the baking process).
  2. Put all the flour in at once, and stir through with a wooden spoon. You need to make sure that all the flour is absorbed by the water.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and make a few small holes in the plastic, like you would do when keeping insects in a jar when you were little. The yeast will develop gasses, which need to escape. Keep this at room temperature for 1.5 - 2.5 hours. It will double in size already.
  4. Now put the dough into the fridge overnight, or for at least 6 hours. It will grow even more, so make sure the bowl is big enough.
  5. The next day, or after 6 hours, you can take the dough and divide it into four pieces. However, you could also take 1/4th of the dough (or 1/3 or 1/2, depending on how much bread you want to make), and leave the remaining dough in the fridge. If covered, it will last for about a week, so you can have fresh bread every day. 
  6. Form the bread the way you want it to be on some baking paper (can be round, or can be like a baguette, for instance), sprinkle over some flour, and let it set at room temperature for another half an hour
  7. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F, or 230 degrees C. The baking tray should be in the oven already. Let oven preheat for at least 15 minutes (while the bread is setting outside the fridge).
  8. Boil about 1/2 cup of water.
  9. Cut either a cross or some strips into the top (do not cut too deep), and transfer the baking paper with bread into the oven. Next to the bread, put a ramekin with some boiled water. This will create a pretty nice crust.
  10. Bake bread for about 30 minutes
  11. Let bread rest outside the oven on a cooling wrack, and cool down for at least 10 minutes before you eat it.
You can just tell from this picture that the bread is incredibly crispy on the outside, and airy on the inside. It might even be the best bread I have ever had, and I hope you will love it as much as I do!



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