I know it’s been a couple years now since no-knead bread first took the food world by storm. I am no doubt behind the times for only now trying it, especially since it’s probably considered passé to some. Even so, there can be no denying that it’s a pretty fantastic discovery.
I think the reason I waited so long is I’m the sort of person who finds solace in mundane tasks. I like watching my mom vigorously mash potatoes by hand with the simple hand masher I remember her using since the time I was young, and then taking care to add the perfect combination of milk, butter, and salt, always eyeing it though, not a measuring cup or spoon in sight. Or watching my mother-in-law shape kibbeh or hollow out vegetables for mahashi for hours, working with nimble hands and a level of ease that only comes from years of practice.
Or myself in the kitchen, taking great pride and pleasure in the tedious labor of making bread the traditional way. The precision of mixing ingredients to make dough, then giving it a good knead. Watching patiently as the yeast works its magic and causes the dough to swell, and then working the dough again, feeling it transform in my hands. Letting it rest a bit longer, and then waiting impatiently as the bread bakes, its enticing aroma permeating the house. I’m somewhat of an old soul when it comes to things like that.
As far as the finished product goes, I still prefer a kneaded bread, but this is honestly pretty delicious for being no-knead and nearly instant. (I say nearly because there is the 12 to 18 hour rise time, as well as a second 30 to 45 minute rise…but the rising takes care of itself, and is really no trouble if you plan ahead.) The slightly tangy flavor of this bread is very similar to sourdough, and its texture is dense, but with a spongy quality. The first day it’s perfect as-is, or with a little butter spread on top, then after that I found it was delicious toasted or used to make grilled cheese sandwiches.
Next I’m planning to try Jim Lahey’s recipe for No-Knead Bread, as seen in The New York Times.