Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Bread-Making made easy!

I've had two bread-makers over the course of the last ten years.  The first was a Breville, which I used a lot and always gave me good results.  When that went to kitchen appliance heaven, I replaced it with a Cookworks model (Argos own-brand).  That was ok, but wasn't as good as the Breville (but was much cheaper, it has to be said in its defence).  With both models, the bread they made was nice, but there was something about it that didn't make me think 'home-made' - I think the fact that the bread dough was mixed a lot meant it had a very close texture, more like a supermarket or bakery tinned loaf.

Yesterday, while I was looking about on Facebook, I spotted a post by Lucy at Attic24 where she'd linked to a no-knead bread recipe.  Ooh, thought I; that looks simple enough to do and I've got all the ingredients (although I had to take out most of the contents of my dry-goods cupboard to get the yeast, which was at the back; of course).

I measured the ingredients (all four of them) and mixed them in my glass bowl and left it to rise for 8-18 hours as the recipe said.  It rose.  In fact, it rose quite considerably and I thought that I'd make the bread last night.  That was slightly optimistic as once dinner's been cooked and the kitchen cleaned up, the last thing I generally want to do is more cooking or baking.  So, I put the bowl of dough into the fridge overnight and hoped for the best (even though I know that bread dough can be put into the fridge and will still rise, albeit more slowly than at room temperature).  This morning, it looked like this:

I put (too much as it turned out) flour on the worktop and flopped the dough onto it, then shaped it into a ball.  It wouldn't stay in a ball, so it ended up being a flattish disc.

The recipe said to cook the loaf in a Dutch oven, which is, I think, the US version of a casserole dish and is usually made of cast iron (like a Le Creuset casserole).  I don't have either of those, so used my large glass Pyrex dish.  The cooking pot is pre-heated in a hot oven for 30 mins while the dough rests.

An extra thing I did (because I was using a glass pot) was to very lightly oil the pan and I also used a strip of baking parchment long enough to go down, across and up the dish, with a bit of overhang.  I put the dough ball on this strip of paper and it made it a lot easier to put the dough into the hot dish and remove it after cooking.

After 30 mins of cooking with the lid on and 15 mins with it off (I reduced the temperature by 10C for the uncovered cooking as the loaf was already starting to brown after 30 mins) I'd got this:

You can see the paper under the loaf (with hindsight, because I used the baking parchment, I didn't need to oil the pot and the paper could have been a thinner strip).

It was very difficult leaving it to cool down enough to try it, but when I did it was very good bread.  A nice crispy crust and soft inside.  I had one piece with just butter and a second slice with some marmalade spread on it.

Next time, I think I'll make the job even easier by doing the mixing in my Magimix with the dough blade fitted (it all goes in the dishwasher!).

So, thanks to Lucy for posting the link on Facebook and if you want an easy, tasty loaf that has very few ingredients, give this a go; it's very good.  As it doesn't have the preservatives and additives that shop-bought loaves have (especially supermarket ones), don't expect it to last more than a day or so, but it should be fine for toast on the second day and could be sliced and frozen for future toastings.

I'd planned on fitting in one more crafting post before the year's end, but that's not going to happen because there's really very little to show.  I have got something new to show you, but that's upstairs and to be honest, I've been up and down the stairs so many times today that I'm staired-out for now so I'll talk about that soon!  My first New Year's Resolution for 2014 is to finish off the projects that just need a bit of work before they become completed.  Sewing in ends, sewing on buttons, blocking, that sort of thing.  I'm hoping to finish DD2's pink sweater in the next few days, so hopefully my first 2014 blog entry will be of the 'ta-da' showing off variety.

Happy New Year and may 2014 bring health and happiness to you and yours.



  1. We make a similar no-knead bread and we love it. We use a big, round Pyrex casserole for ours. We also have a bread machine, a Cuisinart, and it's so-so. Our electric kettle is a Breville and we love that thing! It's one of best appliances we've ever owned. It was expensive but it's terrific.

  2. Looks yummy Christine.
    Looking forward to seeing the project!
    Happy New Year.
    CN x