I was completely enthralled by the recipe in Greedy Goose about a kneadless loaf of bread which took up to 24 hours for the yeast to rise. The loaf looked crusty on the outside, and springy and full of airpockets on the inside - if this were online dating, that type of loaf would be gettin' all my emails.
And so it had to happen. There was a curious lack of white bread flour at the local shops, demanding me to trek farther than intended to pick up the key bread ingredient, but it helped to make the anticipation for the loaf more dramatic. I poured in the ingredients - flour, water, salt, yeast - I gave it a bit of a stir...and then I waited for 20 hours.
I'll just skip to the end (20 hours is a long time to narrate) and say the result was wonderful; the dough was very light, moist and springy with the faintest edge of sourdough flavor to it. Really a perfect loaf with not a huge amount of effort. The kitchen is doused in flour still, since the mixture is very wet and gloopy, but I will certainly make it again.
Again, this is the Greedy Goose's recipe, adapted from Jeffrey Steingarten.
24 Hour Bread
- 3 cups white bread flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 packet of instant yeast
- 1 1/2 cups water, at room temperature
- For dusting and turning out the bread
- more white flour
- 1/2 cup coarse wheat bran (to prevent sticking; I used cornmeal for the same purpose)
- cast iron casserole dish
- Combine the first 4 ingredients, stirring until all the flour is wet. Cover with cling film and set aside at room temperature for up to 24 hours (the recommendation is minimum of 8 hours, maximum of 24. The bread takes on better texture with longer rising, but too long and it will collapse on itself).
- After waiting, turning the dough out onto a well floured surface. This will indeed be gloopy and without form. Dust it with flour and try to fold it three times onto itself to form a rough rectangle (I wasn't able to do this, it was so wet and sticky, so I just threw it around a bit and tried to get the dough off my hands)
- Let sit for about 15 minutes, covering with plastic wrap (though again, if it's quite wet, it will stick to the plastic so you might want to skip this)
- After 15 minutes, again try folding it over on itself three times. Ideally at this point you should have a rough cube, though I still just had a blob.
- Well-flour the bottom of a dish towel so that the dough can be transferred there without sticking. Use some of the bran or cornmeal on top of the flour to prevent sticking.
- Transfer the dough to the towel. Dust the top with more flour and bran/cornmeal (if it's still quite wet you may need a fair amount) so that you can place the other half of the tea towel on top.
- Let sit for 2 hours
- About 20 minutes before the 2 hours is up, pre-heat your oven to 240 degrees C, and place your casserole dish with lid on inside of it.
- Once the dough is ready, remove the casserole and turn the dough into it. Shake the casserole around a bit if the dough needs some help forming. If there isn't any flour left on top of the dough, dust with a bit.
- Cook for 30 minutes, covered.
- After 30 minutes, remove the cover, and cook for another 20-30 minutes until golden and hollow-sounding when tapped.
- Turn out to cool on a rack.