I recently had the opportunity to dine with a lovely fellow food blogger, Alanna from A Veggie Venture. Alanna was in Chicago on business and we decided to meet at a restaurant near her hotel, the Basil Leaf Café. The restaurant was quiet and the food was quite good. I ordered the Butternut Squash Ravioli with Fresh Spinach & Roasted Garlic in Basil Oil and would recommend it. We sat and talked for nearly three hours. It was a very enjoyable evening.
During our conversation Mark Bittman's No Knead Bread came up. I haven't been baking bread very often lately, but this reminder encouraged me to throw together this very simple dough on Monday night.
When I returned home from work on Tuesday I took the bread through the final rise and baked it in my new cloche. Nick and I made a nice dinner of goat cheese and roasted tomato ravioli with a garlic cream sauce. The bread turned out wonderfully, with a gorgeous crust and a light sour taste. We enjoyed it warm with dill havarti cheese while we finished our wine and watched episodes of 30 Rock.
It seems every food blogger has made this bread, so I won't bother reposting the recipe here (you can also find a video). I would recommend that bakers, both new and seasoned, give this bread a try. The results are great. I do find it a bit funny that the absence of kneading should make bread making so much more accessible. I actually really enjoy kneading bread. Rather, it is my impatience with letting dough rise for hours (or days) that is the most bothersome. However, this recipe provides some great instruction for the home baker, particularly when it comes to creating a good oven environment. Putting the dough inside of a well preheated container, be it a cloche or heavy pot, will offer dramatically different results than simply placing the dough on a sheet pan.
Thanks for looking me up Alanna, and for reminding me of this great recipe!