EVELYN CAIRNS • CULINARY CAPERS
I’ve had more than my share of kitchen catastrophes — you may remember when I wrote about the Grosse Ile Fire Department coming to my aid when my oven caught fire. Well, my latest calamity was a real doozy. I had just baked an awesome loaf of bread in my 40-year-old cast-aluminum Magnalite Dutch oven, and left the pot on the top of my electric stove while I was making dinner.
Unfortunately, I accidently turned on the wrong burner, and minutes later, I was horrified to see that the bottom of the pot had melted and left a pool of melted aluminum in the drip pan.
I have since purchased a cast-iron Dutch oven — hoping that cast iron doesn’t melt —and a new heating element and drip pan.
But the bread is another story, and a good one. I can’t thank my neighbor Melva Bonis for introducing me to Jenny Jones’ Jennycancook.com website and Jenny’s recipe for the most delicious, easiest, crustiest artisan no-knead yeast bread I have ever baked or eaten! No bread flour or dried milk necessary, and the recipe calls for only ¼ teaspoon yeast — and one package is enough to make five loaves!
Yeast, like bread flour, may be hard to find in grocery stores, but there is plenty on Amazon.com as I write this. And don’t worry if you don’t have a Dutch oven to bake the bread, because Jenny also provides a no-Dutch-oven method, which I also have tried. The latter is baked on a parchment- covered cookie sheet, and I really couldn’t tell the difference between the two loaves.
Jenny provides a step-by step video to show exactly how to make and bake her no-knead bread. She strongly suggests using thermometers to check the temperature of the oven and the water required in the recipe. If the water is too cold the bread won’t rise, and if it’s too hot it will kill the yeast. (I have always used both. Types.) The temperature of the oven has to be 450 degrees, Jenny says, so if you don’t trust your oven control, use an oven thermometer, not only to ensure the best bread, but all baked goods. Both types of thermometers are sold at most large supermarkets and Amazon as well.
Do read the comments of Jenny’s readers; they are inspirational, interesting and very helpful.
JENNY’S NO-KNEAD BREAD
3 cups all- purpose or bread flour, aerated before measuring (see Note)
¼ teaspoon active dry or instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups hot water, not boiling (Jenny uses hot tap water about 125-130 degrees)
About 2 tablespoons extra flour for shaping dough
Combine flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Stir in water until it’s well combined. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 3 hours. After 3 hours, dough will become puffy and dotted with bubbles. Transfer it onto a well-floured surface and sprinkle dough with a little flour. Using a scraper, fold dough over 10-12 times and shape into a rough ball. Place in a parchment-paper-lined bowl (not waxed-paper-lined) and cover with a towel. Let stand on counter top for about 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, place a Dutch oven with lid in a cold oven and preheat to 450 degrees (it should take about 35 minutes to reach 450 degrees). When oven reaches 450 degrees, using oven gloves or heavy pot holders, lift the parchment paper and dough from the bowl and gently place into the hot Dutch oven (the parchment paper goes in the pot, too). Cover the pot and bake 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove lid and parchment paper. Return, uncovered, to oven and bake 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool at least 15 minutes before slicing.
(Note: To aerate flour, stir the a few times with a spoon; don’t sift).
(For recipe requests or contributions, questions or comments, email Evycairns@aol.com.)