Thursday, November 25, 2010

Baking Bonanza: No-knead Oatmeal Bread

This is the first installment of “Baking Bonanza”! It’s Thanksgiving week, which gives me 4 days off with nothing to do, so it’s a great time to get ahead on the baking. The first thing I baked was No-Knead Oatmeal bread from King Arthur Flour’s Baker’s Catalogue. I’ve made this bread three times because it is sooooo good and so easy to make.

I was really eager to make this bread so I could try out my new “toy”:

No-Knead Oatmeal Bread
4 cups of bread flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour or whole wheat flour
1 ½ cups of old fashioned rolled oats
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup (2 oz.) soft butter
2 tsp. salt
½ teaspoon instant yeast
2 ¼ cups lukewarm water

You will need a BIG bowl to mix the dough together. I find the KitchenAid to be your best friend in this endeavor. Put all the ingredients in the bowl and mix everything using the paddle attachment until everything comes together. (At this point the dough smells amazing—the scent of the butter will start wafting through the kitchen…ahhhh…)

This dough isn’t quite as wet as other no-knead recipes and comes together in a few minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest overnight (the original recipe suggests resting the dough for at least 8 hours).

The dough will rise, but slowly since there is only ½ teaspoon of yeast, so that’s another reason to use a large bowl.

When you’re ready to bake, lightly flour your counter and dump the dough onto it. A bowl scraper will help get every bit out of the bowl. You have a few options here on the shape of the final loaf (these are the three I’ve tried):
a)Dutch Oven
b)Covered baker
c) Loaf Pan

For all 3 vessels, simply shape the dough to fit the container, and then let it rise for another hour until it’s somewhat puffy (it will rise a lot more in the oven).

If you’re using a Dutch oven, be sure to slash the bread using a # pattern. I found that slashing the bread in the baker/loaf pan doesn't leave much of a mark in the final product. You can always sprinkle the top of the bread with oatmeal, although most of it usually falls off.

Depending on your container, you’ll have to alter the cooking time and method:

If you’re baking in a Dutch oven or cover baker, put the lid on the pan on start the bread in a cold oven, and turn the oven temperature to 450 degrees.

Bake for 45 minutes, then remove the lid to brown the top of the bread. This takes about 10 minutes in my oven. You’re going for a deep brown color.

For the bread in a regular loaf pan (and this dough makes enough for 2 loaves), preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the bread for about 40 minutes, tenting the bread with foil about halfway through to keep the crust from burning.

In my experience, the Dutch oven and covered baker yield the brownest crust. When I tried to bake the bread in a regular loaf pan, it was still good, but didn’t turn dark brown. Though the bread baked in the Dutch oven was good, it was a little awkward to slice since my pot is on oblong shape.

However, my new lidded baker gave the loaf the traditional rectangular, cubic shape.

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