No Knead for Shortcuts
December 31, 2007
A little over a year ago, The New York Times published an article that set off a virtual wildfire in the blog-o-sphere. From the attention and fervor the article generated, you might think it contained a recipe for making a nuclear bomb, or perhaps a cool million. Not exactly. The recipe was for no-knead bread.
I read the food blogs’ reviews and salivated over their photos like all good food blog readers. And, I of course vowed to make the bread. It would have been the perfect training wheels for the bread making novice that I was. And I still might give the recipe a go. Really, I might. But in the year since the recipe was published, it’s languished on my recipe to do list. Every time I see it, I wonder why I haven’t gotten around to it.
Instead of using it to ease my way into the world of bread making, I chose a more complicated and much less reviewed recipe to launch my bread making career. And, still, the no-knead recipe languishes. The recipe came to mind again when I read about it in the February 2008 issue of Cooks Illustrated. In standard Cooks form, the magazine had set out to de-construct the original recipe and build it back up, making it even better.
Cooks generally sticks to extremely classic, well-known recipes for this kind of extreme-make-over treatment: French onion soup, Sunday pot roast and breaded pork chops in this recent issue. So the fact that Cooks was trying to perfect the no-knead recipe is only further evidence of the cult-like following this bread has garnered.
So, the question remains: why have I resisted? It might be that I’m just that stubborn. Why take the short cut when I can take the more arduous route, right? In fact, I think that’s just it. I like to knead bread. I like the tangibility and the physicality of it. Even more, I love to see the transformation from a tacky, lumpy mass of dough to a smooth, elastic ball—before my very eyes. So that’s probably why I chose this recipe for my second foray into bread making rather than trying the Times‘ original or the Cooks‘ revamped no-knead version. And there’s also the fact that these rolls—Cooking Light‘s Oatmeal Knots—allowed me to shape my kneaded dough into irresistible knots and then sprinkle them with a scrumptious mixture of oats and poppy and sesame seeds. Oh, and they’re healthy. Not to mention delicious—slightly sweet, nutty and light and airy.
1 cup regular oats
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups boiling water
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/3 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
3 cups whole wheat flour (about 14 1/4 ounces)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/4 ounces), divided
1 teaspoon water
1 large egg
1 tablespoon regular oats
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Combine the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl, and add 2 cups boiling water, stirring until well blended. Cool to room temperature.
Dissolve yeast in 1/3 cup warm water in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add yeast mixture to oats mixture; stir well. Stir in flaxseed meal.
Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Gradually add 3 cups whole wheat flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour to oats mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).
Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Press two fingers into the dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down, and let rest for 5 minutes.
Divide dough in half; cut each half into 12 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent from drying), shape each portion into an 8-inch rope. Tie each rope into a single knot; tuck top end of rope under bottom edge of roll. Place each roll on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap coated with cooking spray; let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine 1 teaspoon water and egg in a small bowl; brush egg mixture over rolls. Combine 1 tablespoon oats, poppy seeds, and sesame seeds; sprinkle evenly over rolls. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks.