I have been making my own bread for more than a decade now, and many times in the work lunch room people have watched as I devoured my ‘rustic toast’ and asked ‘did you make that?’ On the odd occasion a brave soul or two will ask for the recipe, but I always struggle to pass them on, because every loaf I make seems to be done differently in some way. I never follow a recipe exactly, and I use my own shaping and baking techniques depending on time available and what I feel like on the day.
So this is my first recipe to grace this blog, and it’s my own creation based on an adaption of the Jim Lahey method of making ‘no knead’ bread. Jim Lahey is a true bread guru and is the owner of the famed Sullivan Street Bakery in New York. I strongly encourage everyone to buy his book ‘My Bread’ (see Amazon or The Book Depository), it really has revolutionised artisan bread making and has made it very easy and much more appealing to the masses. I post this as much for those keen to have a go at making their own bread as I do for my own record. My logic is that if I record my own recipes I might be more likely to follow them!
You’ll see this recipe uses vinegar, interestingly, which is a new tweak I threw in based on a discussion I saw on youtube between Mark Bittman and Jim Lahey, check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LaODcYSRXU
So here we go!
No knead wholemeal spelt bread (made in approx. 5 hours with about 10 minutes actual work)
3 cups wholemeal spelt flour (organic is the only type I’ve ever found, which is great!)
1.5 tsp salt (any kind is ok but I use sea salt without anti-caking agent)
0.25 tsp instant yeast (buy this in sachets or Lowan’s brand bulk container in the supermarket)
1.5 cups warm water
0.25 tsp red wine or apple cider vinegar
- Mix together flour, salt and instant yeast with a whisk in a medium sized bowl big enough to hold the dough at double its original size.
- Add vinegar to warm water then mix these with dry ingredients until combined. It does not matter if the mixing is not perfect, just mix it up till it’s fairly well combined. Hooray to no kneading! I find thin and flexible spatula does the trick, helps with getting the globby bits off the side of the bowl.
- Then cover the bowl with a plate or a baking tray (something other than plastic wrap if you can manage it, the bowl does not have to be properly sealed), then let the dough sit at room temperature for 4 hours or until doubled in size and looking bubbly on the surface.
- After this initial fermentation, grab a spatula or dough scraper and pulling from the sides up and towards the middle of the bowl, turn the dough into itself a few times (always centering, a bit like a folding/kneading action in the bowl).
- Then tip the dough onto a piece of non-stick baking paper (or use normal baking paper with some veg oil brushed on it) and rinse out the bowl you used for mixing/fermenting.
- Now pick up the dough and paper, holding onto the edges or corners of the paper, and place them both inside the cleaned bowl for the final rise.
- Now turn your oven on as hot as it can go (250 degrees Celsius is good) and wait for one hour for the dough to rise again and be ‘proofed’ before baking.
- At this stage you’ll need to consider how you are going to bake the loaf. I baked this one on a pizza stone that lives permanently in my oven, under a steel bowl to create lots of steam and ‘an oven within an oven’. But if you don’t have a pizza stone I’d use a casserole dish, roasting pan with a lid, cake tin with another one the same size inverted for a lid, or any other oven safe vessel that you can use to create a mini oven (this is Lahey’s method). Whatever you use make sure you preheat it in the oven for at least half an hour, and take care to use oven mits – it’s easy to forget what’s hot and what’s not!
- Once the dough is ready, after about an hour, it will be two thirds to twice its original size and looking like it could be full of bubbles, pick it up again by the paper and carefully place it inside your hot casserole pot (or whatever mini oven marvel you have come up with).
- Bake for 30 minutes at 250 degrees C with the lid on, then open the oven, take the lid off your mini oven and continue to bake anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes. Note Jim Lahey’s breads are always almost burnt looking, and cooking it for 15 minutes with no lid will give you this truly delicious rustic crust, but not everyone likes a dark crust so cook it to your liking. As long as it has at least a nice golden colour it should be cooked enough not too long after the initial 30 minutes of baking.
- Once you are happy with your crust and it’s looking delicious, remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack for at least 1 hour before cutting. This is important as the bread continues to cook while it’s cooling (hard to resist cutting into it I know, but please try 🙂
- And presto! You have a beautiful, uber healthy loaf of whole wheat spelt bread that will keep for a few days out of the fridge in a paper bag, and then even longer after this in a plastic bag in the fridge (from this time on it’s best as toast).
As you can see from the main picture above, this loaf turned out very holey and light due to the high amount of water in the dough, but also a bit flat looking. Now it’s a matter of personal taste and sometimes you can get your loaf to ‘stand up’ a bit taller if you reduce the amount of water, but a wet dough does give lovely holes. I might make a ‘version 2’ with a bit less water and see how it holds up!
This photo below is the way I made my ‘oven within an oven’ for this loaf. Very simple really – pizza stone, preheated, then the dough and paper go on the stone with steel bowl over the top for the first 30 minutes of baking. I didn’t preheat the bowl as it’s quite thin metal and didn’t really need it. You can also invert a pot, cake tin, or whatever you think will fit over your dough and finished bread. Bear in mind the dough will rise or ‘kick’ even more once it goes into the hot oven.
Ahh, first post done. Quite a nice feeling after 13 revisions! Hope you enjoyed the read.