I'm a fan of the bakery book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day so when I spotted Jim Lahey's book My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No Knead Method I figured I had everything I needed in the 5 minute bread book and shouldn't buy Jim Lahey's book because it would just duplicate what I already had. But I was drawn to the beautiful bread on it's cover.
I thumbed through the book and found myself looking for a place to sit down so I could read a little bit of the recipes. But I kept returning to the cover. Could I bake a bread that looked so beautiful and crusty ? Could I bake a bread that would sing in my kitchen ? Could I bake a bread that had such a beautiful interior it could almost bring you to tears ? Could I bake a bread that tasted better than bread I had tasted in Paris ? A resounding YES to all of those questions ! You know I tend to get very enthusiastic about things I love, especially in the Culinary Arts . Don't let that enthusiasm stop you from buying this book or Googling one of Jim Lahey's recipes on the Internet. I have baked bread before and I love baking bread. During my short stint at pastry school it was my favorite part of the day-Bread. Chef Harris instilled a bread passion in me, I loved the flour and the mixing and the fermenting and the aromas that surrounded me. And texture-from the sticky and wet poolish to the smooth elastic dough slapping around on the inside of the mixer. It's laziness that has stopped me from baking more of my own homemade bread. That coupled with that fact that just 6 blocks away I can find some of the most delicious baguettes and bread this side of Paris at Bakery Nouveau. I've chosen to spend most of my baking time concentrating on desserts and all things chocolate. But no more.
With Jim Lahey's book I will be baking bread daily. The recipe really is no work, no knead and produces the gorgeous bread we all love. I could barely wait for it to cool last night. But I did and when I sliced through that crunchy caramelized crust I knew I was in for bread ecstasy. There are no words to describe it-the crunchy crust, the slightly fermented aroma and flavor of the bread, the beautiful texture, the butter melting into the little holes-heaven or pretty close to it. I'm off to mix up some more batter-it really is so simple-ingredients into container-ferment (about 16-18hrs), turn out onto to towel and shape into round form, cover and let rise (about 2hrs), place into a ceramic or cast iron pot ,cover and bake. No kneading, so you don't get the chance to overwork the dough.
All it requires is patience and good scheduling for the fermenting and rising. Take the time, you will be rewarded, trust me. Until you buy the book for the rest of his incredible recipes, you can find the recipe for the No Knead Bread here published by Mark Bittman, The Minimalist, in the New York Times. Bon Appetit.