Over-kneaded dough tends to turn the loaves tough and chewy, and under kneaded-dough will make the loaves flat and dense in texture. To get a loaf of light and fluffy bread, practice is important. Of course if you use a bread machine to knead your dough, you will never over knead it. Baking bread is really all about technique, I neither practiced nor read enough. So I chose the no-knead version. Is this cheating? Not really, it’s just another way to make your bread and it’s effortless :-). All you need to do is to plan ahead of time as this bread needs at least 12-18 hours to rise.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma.
Cornmeal as needed
Active dry yeast
Chopped fresh rosemary
Roasted garlic (roughly chopped)
Chopped lemon zest
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt, rosemary, roasted garlic and lemon zest. Add 1 5/8 cups water and stir until blended; the dough will be shaggy and very sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at warm room temperature (about 70°F) until the surface is dotted with bubbles, 12 to 18 hours.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle the dough with a little flour and fold the dough over onto itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or your fingers, gently and quickly shape the dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel, preferably a flour sack towel (not terry cloth), with cornmeal. Put the dough, seam side down, on the towel and dust with more flour or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise until the dough is more than double in size and does not readily spring back when poked with a finger, about 2 hours.
- At least 30 minutes before the dough is ready, put a 2 3/4-quart cast-iron pot in the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Carefully remove the pot from the oven. Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over, seam side up, into the pot; it may look like a mess, but that is OK. Shake the pan once or twice if the dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the loaf is browned, 15 to 30 minutes more.
- Transfer the pot to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Using oven mitts, turn the pot on its side and gently turn the bread; it will release easily. Makes one 1 1/2-lb. loaf.