Tuesday, December 22, 2009

excellent no-knead olive rosemary bread

I thought an olive rosemary bread would be nice for Christmas Eve so I looked back over some previous efforts. (Hey, a year into this blogging business and it gratifying to find that it's as helpful a reference as I'd hoped.)

This almost no-knead loaf using the Cooks Illustrated method was great aside from the flattish shape. I went with something close to it, but drier in keeping with the original CI recipe:
  • 3 cups all purpose flour less 3 tablespoons
  • 3 tablespoons wheat gluten
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • rounded 1/4 teaspoon rapid rise yeast
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon goldenflower ale (homemade)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (homemade)
  • 1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary, lightly crushed
Mixed this into a shaggy ball and covered at 13:00. Kneaded for 30 seconds at 8:30 the next morning, formed into a loaf, and put it onto parchment paper in a small skillet. It was easy to work and very resilient. Looked promising, though I should have used more flour to get a smoother exterior and permit more symmetric shaping. I was thinking that this one would be, shall we say, rustic.

It rose well over the next two hours, then went into the covered dutch oven preheated on the bottom rack to 500 degrees. Lowered to 425 and baked for 30 minutes covered and 20 uncovered to 206 degrees internal.

Holy guacamole señors y señoritas, it's gorgeous. I can see that the technique of forming the loaf by pulling the dough from several directions into the middle and then using that seam as the base worked perfectly. That has been too difficult to do with other no-knead doughs. Letting it rise in a smaller skillet also worked well. And it bounced or sprang or whatever you call it in the oven better than any other bread I've baked.

Now, two hours of sweet torment listening to it softly crackle into coolness.


It's superb. This is the closest thing to perfection to ever come out of my oven. The crust is spectacularly flaky and crisp, the crumb is chewy and stretchy and soft, and the flavor is heavenly. I'm about to dislocate one shoulder patting myself on the back and the other lunging for another piece.

I can tell that I used dried rosemary. There's no textural problem, but the flavor is clearly that of the dried herb. I'll use fresh next time. I wouldn't mind more olives, either.

Other than that I don't know how it could be any better. Well, I suppose it could be, but I am totally satisfied with this outcome. Outstanding ROI. I'll probably make another.

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