[UPDATE: I have added lots of photos of the No-Knead Bread making process here .]
If you have been reading this space, you know I have been making no knead bread for nearly two months. I make about 5-6 loaves a week, easily enough to keep our family well supplied with carbs. My waistline will suffer, I’m sure. It’s so difficult to limit one’s self to just one slice of warm-from-the-oven savory bread with soft butter waiting to slather all over it. It also makes great toast, and great French Toast, once it starts to get stale, not that that ever happens around here.
Anyway, my last foray into bread making involved adding Parmesan cheese to the dough. I had no special recipe. I just added a handful, probably 1/4 to 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan (just from the dairy case at the grocery, already shredded, but not the green canister of Kraft Parmesan – I didn’t have a wedge of parm to grate myself) to the basic 3 c. flour, 2 t. salt, 1 5/8 c. water, 1/4 t. yeast recipe for no-knead bread. I did add about 1/4 t. powdered onion and 1/4 t. powdered garlic to see what that would do. I followed the rest of the recipe verbatim, let it rise for 18 hours, covered, at room temperature, formed it into a loaf and let it rest for 15 minutes, put it in an oiled bowl and let it rise again for 2 hours, covered, and then baked it in a 450 degree oven preheated for 30 minutes in a preheated enameled cast iron Dutch oven (Mario Batali brand, 6 qt. size) covered for 30 minutes, and uncovered for 15 minutes. Once it was out of the oven and on a cooling rack, I brushed it with butter.
It was delicious. It would be a great bread to serve with soup and a hunk of good cheese for a quick meal. Maybe not with a hot minestrone in the middle of summer, but certainly with a great gazpacho. Hey! I know what I’ll fix this weekend! We love gazpacho!
Next time I will use a little more Parmesan. Today’s bread had a too subtle cheese flavor and I want to see how much more I can add without going overboard with it. I intend to try Asiago cheese also. A local bakery makes an Asiago-Onion bread that has an Asiago flavor that is too strong for me. So I will try to temper my addition of that distinctive cheese for a more subtle approach. I would rather have plain bread and a piece of Asiago to go with it, than have my bread taste so strongly of the cheese itself.
I will keep you posted on the results of more experiments. By the way, the last experiment with 1 cup of cornmeal replacing one of the 3 cups of flour was not acceptable to me. It was too dry and not tasty enough. I will stick to cornmeal quickbreads in the future.
I hope you have found the time to try no knead bread. It is so simple and forgiving. I have done so many “wrong” things in preparing it and each and every time it comes out great. Let it rise too long? No worries, mate. Forget to stir the dry ingredients before adding the water? No problem. Do you think it’s too wet a dough? Nah. It’ll be fine. Anyone who has never dreamed of making bread will find this recipe a delightful introduction to breadmaking. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best bread in the world. I haven’t bought a loaf of bread in over a month.
The only problem with it is that you must have a large cutting board and a good bread knife, preferably an offsett one, to save your knuckles. And also, you will always be cleaning flour off of your countertops. But it’s a small price to pay for something that lifts bread out of the ordinary and places it on a culinary pedastal. No kidding. You will be surprised at how good it is.