Updated: Aug 17, 2021
I've been baking bread for years, starting with the basic albeit brick heavy white pan loaf from Mollie Weir's brilliant all purpose cookbook Recipes during periods of work induced insomnia (TV is just so boring at that night of night), to Paul Rankin's really easy soda bread, to dabbling with focaccia and sourdough but it wasn't until I attended a course with Richard Bertinet, the bath based master baker, that I was able to develop my kneading technique to ensure consistent crusty artisanal bread of the type that I love eating in Germany. (bread shops in Germany can have the solemnity of an Art gallery; The one below is from Rotenburg ob der Tauber visited in 2010 )
So it was with considerable scepticism that I watched a Nu Yoik artisanal baker show Paul Hollywood how to make bread that required no kneading and very little effort, and having tried it, it is probably the only way that I will ever make everyday bread. All it requires is a bit of planning.
It is very simple, with the only equipment not normally used for baking being a le Creuset casserole dish with lid (or as its called in America, a Dutch oven).
Ingredients are just as normal:
400g strong bread flower, yeast, salt and 300g of water
Mix all the ingredients roughly in a large bowl. This takes about 10 seconds.
There's no need to knead to or fully mix, just cover and leave for 24 hours.
After 24 hours, scrape out onto a floured worktop and fold twice into a square shape and then leave for 2 hours during which time you can preheat the oven as normal and heat the Le Creuset.
Place the now fully proved loaf into the casserole, bake for 20 minutes with the lid on and 10 minutes with the lid off.
And that is it! It was really simple yet crusty and delicious and yet another pandemic displacement activity that I could really do without but with this has the advantage that people will thank you.