Jim Lahey, I so love this bread of yours. Thanks a trillion!
The internet is awash in countless posts exalting the Jim Lahey No Knead Bread Recipe, with good reason. It is insane. It is so good you will go crazy when you make it, even if you are an amateur like me and can’t quite shape the loaf just right –>
Fresh out of the oven, you will find this crisp-crackly goodness and all the warm, pillowy, breadly softness you could want.
I’m adding my voice to the cheering masses because this recipe just happens to be vegan. It doesn’t really get credit for being “vegan,” and that’s fine, but people who are interested in such things really oughtta know!
Why should I bake my own bread?
The killer thing about this recipe is that it is so darn easy and so ineffably good. I am lucky to have ready access to amazing fresh bread from sensational local bakeries, but this bread still brings me so much joy. There is a primal-yet-oh-so-civilized thrill in eating the very best bread, made with just four ingredients, when you do it yourself.
You do, however, have to be organized. The required initial rising time is 12 hours minimum, preferably 18. If you don’t count ahead, you could easily find yourself staying up until 2 a.m. just to form your loaf.
It would be worth it, but it’s not necessary.
What about whole grains?
You can definitely make this bread with whole grain flour. Lots of people, including Mark Bittman, have done so and been very happy.
I made two variations, and here’s my recap.
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Whole Wheat Flour Variation (recommended)
Follow this recipe:
EXCEPT: use half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour. I baked my loaf in a covered enameled cast iron Dutch oven. I was worried that the bread would stick to the Dutch oven, but it pops right out.
Keep this bread uncovered until it cools, and definitely don’t seal it up in plastic, as the moisture from the bread will steam the crispness out of your crust. It will still be delicious, but the fresh, crisp crust is a revelation that you don’t want to spoil.
The flavors that developed were extraordinary. There was a sweetness and a depth that developed over the 18 hours that I let this loaf rise, and I could barely believe something so good emerged from my oven on the first try.
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Spelt Variation (recommended only if you really like spelt)
Follow this recipe:
EXCEPT: use two cups of spelt flour and one cup of all-purpose flour. The spelt flour I used seemed pretty light, so I thought, what the heck, I’ll dare to use more than half whole grain flour. (Others have made entirely whole grain loaves with this recipe and been pleased, but I like a little white flour usually.)
The same comments in the whole wheat variation apply here, too, except for the flavor of the bread. There was a complexity in the flavor of the whole wheat loaf that just didn’t develop in this spelt loaf.
I’m not sure if it’s due to the difference in flours, but it seems likely to me. We’ve all seen wheat beers. Most of us have even tossed back a few.
Ever enjoy a spelt beer?