I love bread but it can be hard to find what I consider ‘normal’ white bread overseas. Of course, Europe isn’t generally a problem. France is heaven. Germany’s bread is a seed and nut-crusted wonder. There are also deliciously addictive flat breads in Afghanistan, mouth-watering French baguettes in Zambia and a close second in Cambodia. That said, the bread selection in other parts of the world can be less than par. Barbados had really dense coconut bread and heavy salt breads, Botswana was a lost cause as far as white bread goes, South Korea’s bread was loaded with sugar, Thailand… well, I’m sure there was bread in Thailand but I never saw any. Heck, even back home it’s about 30 minutes to an hour’s drive to the nearest French bakery.
While I love to cook, I’m no baker. In fact, I’m a terrible baker. The most I can manage without a full-on stress attack are muffins, zucchini or banana bread. In recent years, with the addition of an old bread-maker passed down from my mother, I tried my hand at Irish soda bread. It was edible and I got to control the ingredients but it wasn’t anything I’d write home about.
While I love learning about other cultures and cuisines, sometimes you need some familiar comfort food to help get you through the day. So out of desperation, I eventually bought a 2nd bread-maker with 220 V. / 50 Hz to use overseas.
Unsatisfying attempts at bread-making with the machine led me to discover several no-knead bread recipes. I’ve been looking forward to trying one of the many recipes available online. Unfortunately, there was one little thing stopping me… I didn’t have a Dutch/French oven – that is until today!
Naturally, I started with Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread recipe made famous by Mark Bittman of the New York Times way back in 2006. I’d heard this recipe was so easy that even a 6 year old could make it. Sounds like the perfect recipe for me! Nevertheless, I don’t exactly have the “baker’s touch” so I followed the recipe exactly using my new 5 1/2 QT Le Creuset Dutch oven.
No-Knead Bread – Jim Lahey’s Recipe, The New York Times, 2006
This recipe was VERY sticky and took a LOT of patience. From start to finish, this bread took almost 24 hours. The end result was way better than anything that’s come out of my bread-maker. That said, I found it to be very heavy and chewy. The bread was really crusty but I found it a bit too hard. Sadly, it only got harder as we approached dinner time a few hours later so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone with delicate dental work!
I’ll be playing around with other no-knead bread recipes over the coming month. If you have any to share, please add them in the comment section.