18 October 2011

Recipe box: No-knead, whole-wheat bread in a Dutch oven, part 1

This is another simple bread recipe, which you can make from food storage. In fact, it even has less ingredients than last week's Bannock Bread recipe. The basic bread recipe I'm using is based on the well-known no-knead recipe popularized by New York Times columnist Mark Bittman.

Over two posts, I'll actually be describing two "versions" of this bread. The first post (below) is simply substituting whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour. My objectives here are to show how the bread turns out when using whole wheat flour made from stored whole wheat berries. The second post takes things a step further, using the same recipe, but baking it using only charcoal as the heat source.

Before we get to the recipe, here's the Mark Bittman video that originally inspired it:

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

1/4 tsp Yeast, active dry
1-1/2 cups Water, warm (approx.)
3 cups Flour, whole wheat (plus more for dusting)
1-1/4 tsp. salt

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water.
  2. Add the flour and salt, stirring until blended and the resulting dough is shaggy and sticky.
  3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest  for 12 to 18 hours at warm room temperature (approximately 70-75°F). When the dough is ready, its surface will be dotted with bubbles.
  4. At least 20 minutes before you're ready to finish the dough, heat oven to 500°F. Put a 6-, 8-, or 10-quart Dutch oven in the oven as it heats. (Actually, any heavy, covered cast iron, enamel, Pyrex, or ceramic pot will do.)
  5. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it. Sprinkle it with a little more flour and gently fold it over on itself four times (refer to the video if needed).
  6. Generously sprinkle flour on a clean dish towel with flour. Put the "seam" side of the dough down on the towel and dust with more flour.
  7. Carefully take the pot from the oven and remove the lid. Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over into the pot, seam side up.
  8. Replace the cover and return the pot to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
  9. Remove the lid and bake another 15 to 20 minutes, until the loaf's crust is browned.
  10. Remove the bread from the pot and let it cool completely on a rack before cutting.

According to food.com, you should only use 7/8 cup of whole wheat flour when substituting for all-purpose flour. As such, it may be necessary to add a little more water that the amount called for above.

Note that using whole wheat flour will result in a much denser bread than all purpose flour (see kitchensavvy.com for more information). The resulting loaf will also be smaller and more compact.

If you're interested, Mark Bittman revisited this recipe, in an attempt to reduce the resting time necessary for the dough.

The video below specifies using very warm (almost hot) water, along with a 1/4 tsp. of red wine vinger, both designed to speed up the processing of the yeast. (I haven't tried this with whole wheat flour yet, so if you do, please share your results in the Comments section at the bottom of this post.)

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