Laziest bread ever

So, I thought I’d got the effort in breadmaking down to the bare minimum, then my friend Michele told me about this method which takes even less effort. It’s not quite fresh bread for breakfast, but it could be fresh bread for brunch. I thought it had an excellent flavour thanks to the long prove, and the little bit of rye flour made the crumb deliciously chewy, but the yeast had more or less exhausted itself by the time I came to bake so there wasn’t much of a bloom. Next time I might leave it somewhere even colder to prove so it didn’t use all of its energy before it got to the oven. Baking it in a cast-iron dish with the lid on creates steam so you get a great crust. It does need to be something quite heavy so you can get it really hot – I don’t think a cake tin with a foil lid would work in this case, but happy to be told otherwise if you’ve tried it.

I used my slightly knackered Le Creuset pot, acquired from a boot sale for £3

Recipe is pretty adaptable in terms of flour, sweetener and any additions you want to make, and I guess you could also replace the liquid with something else. When it’s this easy, you may as well have fun with it!

Dutch oven, no knead bread

  • 520g flour – I used 150g strong white flour, 100g rye flour & 270g wholemeal flour, but you could use all white or all wholemeal or a mix to a different proportion – not all rye flour though because rye lacks gluten so you need a different method to make it rise.
  • 1 sachet instant yeast
  • 2 tsps salt
  • 1 tsp sugar, or honey
  • 400ml warm water
  • Caraway seeds (optional, or add other seeds like poppy, linseed, pumpkin or sunflower)
  • Spray oil for greasing the baking dish (or turn the dough out onto non-stick baking paper and dump the lot in the baking dish)

Tip everything into a bowl and give it a damn good mix (I use a knife rather than a spoon as it is quite sticky). Make sure the flour is all mixed in. Cover with oiled clingfilm and leave overnight, somewhere cool.

It doesn’t look very promising at this stage…
…but by the morning it had probably trebled in size

In the morning, whack the oven on at its highest temperature and place a cast-iron casserole dish with lid in (e.g. a Le Creuset-type casserole) to heat up for about 15 mins. Meanwhile, take a piece of greaseproof paper and dust liberally with flour. Ease the dough gently out of the bowl onto the paper, trying not to knock too much air out or lose the round shape. Score the top and dust with more flour.

Take the dish out of the oven, spray with oil and slide the dough in. Put the lid back on and bake at 240C, Gas Mark 9 for 15 mins, then take the lid off and turn the heat down to 200C, Gas Mark 6 for a further 30 mins. Turn out and cool on a rack for as long as you can bear before slicing, buttering liberally, and eating. With pleasure.


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