Almost No-Knead Bread

15 ounces all purpose flour (3 cups)
14 teaspoon yeast
1 12 teaspoons table salt
7 ounces water, at room temperature (34 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
3 ounces mild-flavored lager (14 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon white vinegar

1. Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.

2. Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has double in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.

3. About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500*F. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor sharp blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch long, 12-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425*F and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210*F, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. 

Notes: Cook’s Illustrated recommend Budweiser, so that’s what I used.  Please also be aware that the black knob on Le Creuset bakeware will melt when exposed to the temperatures this recipe uses.  If you don’t have an aluminum knob, take the black knob off and stick some tinfoil or something similar into the hole.  If you use another brand of Dutch oven, please make sure you know its specifications. 

Almost No-Knead Bread

This recipe is from the 2008 Cook’s Illustrated Annual.  It’s a modification of the No-Knead Bread that you can find anywhere online.  Since I bought 7 ounce bottles of beer, I ended up doubling this recipe and baking two loaves.  I let the dough sit for 8 hours with one loaf and 18 hours for the other loaf.  I was super impressed with how the bread turned out.  The texture was fantastic, the taste was phenomenal, and the crust was just perfect.  It was also ridiculously easy from start to finish.  I might never go back to the bread machine again!

Cook’s Illustrated 2008