Friday, January 21, 2011

100% Whole Wheat No-Knead Bread

Makes 2 loaves

Recipe from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day
Husband-Tested in Alice’s Kitchen

My husband loves to eat a slice of whole wheat bread every day with a little peanut butter and jelly on it.  Sometimes we make whole wheat bread (different recipe on this blog http://fromaliceskitchen.blogspot.com/2008/01/whole-wheat-bread-bread-machine-recipe.html) using a bread machine, but here's another option...No-Knead!  This recipe uses 100% whole wheat flour plus a bit of gluten.  Make the dough (enough for two loaves) and keep it in the fridge up to 10 days.  Come baking day, just shape, allow the dough to rest for 40 minutes and then bake.  Easy, easy!

Special Equipment:  6-8 quart plastic container with a lid (I use a Sterilite 8 quart plastic container.  See photo.) If the container is airtight, drill three holes in the lid.); Le Creuset dutch oven with lid (See note*); parchment paper; plastic wrap; oil spray; cooling rack

Recipe
7 cups unsifted, whole wheat flour, measured with the scoop-and-sweep method (plus more for sprinkling on baking day)
1 ½ Tablespoons yeast (2 packets)
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt
¼ cup vital wheat gluten
3 ¾ cups lukewarm water (about 100°F)

Preparing the Dough:
Whisk together the flour, yeast, salt and vital wheat gluten in the plastic container. (See note above.) Add water and mix without kneading with really wet hands to make sure that all the flour is wet. Do not knead. You’re finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches.  (This will yield a dough that is wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of its container.)
Cover with the plastic container lid. (Not air tight.) Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature about 2 hours.  Place the risen dough in the refrigerator overnight. The dough may be kept in the fridge for up to ten days.

On Baking Day: 
Sprinkle a piece of parchment paper with flour.  Spray a piece of plastic wrap with oil and set aside.
Remove the plastic container from the fridge and take off the lid.  Sprinkle the dough with flour.  Pull out half the dough with floured hands.  (Replace the lid and return the remaining dough to the refrigerator.)  Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. (By doing this, you are creating a “gluten cloak.” Visualize a cloak bring pulled around the dough, so that the entire ball is surrounded by a skin.)  Resist the temptation to get rid of all the stickiness by adding too much flour.  Adding large amounts of flour prevents the bread from achieving a finished crumb with the typical artisanal interior. 
Place the shaped dough onto a piece of parchment paper that has been sprinkled with flour.  Cover the dough with the oiled plastic wrap.  Allow to rest for 40 minutes.
In the meantime, place the Le Creuset dutch oven in the oven (with the lid on) and preheat the oven to 450°F. 
Remove the Le Creuset dutch oven from the oven.  Take off the lid.  Remove the plastic from the top of the dough.  Lift the dough by placing your hand underneath the parchment paper.  Take it to the Le Creuset dutch oven and plop the dough into the pot top side down.  Shake the pot just a bit to even out the dough.  Don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect.  It’ll even out as it bakes.  Place the lid back onto the Le Creuset dutch oven and then place the pot into the hot oven.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Then, remove the lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes.  You’ll know when it’s done by tapping on the loaf.  It should make deep hollow thumping sound.
Remove the Le Creuset dutch oven from the oven and carefully remove the loaf.  Place it on a cooling rack and allow to cool before slicing.

*Note about the pot:  To get an enviable, crackling crust, put the dough in a preheated covered pot — a common one, a heavy one, such as a Le Creuset enameled cast iron pot, a heavy ceramic pot or even a cast iron dutch oven. By starting this very wet dough in a hot, covered pot, the crust develops in a moist, enclosed environment. The pot is in effect the oven, and that oven has plenty of steam in it. Once uncovered, a half-hour later, the crust has time to harden and brown, still in the pot, and the bread is done. Fear not. The dough does not stick to the pot any more than it would to a preheated bread stone.

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