Jim Lahey's no-knead breads have been the center of a lot of attention in recent years, and I'm convinced that just about everyone has tried one of his no-knead recipes. His basic recipe is my go-to loaf. So when I was killing some time in a bookstore and his new book "My Bread" caught my eye, there was no way I could walk out without it. It's a treasure trove of bread, pizza and sandwiches, so deciding what to make first was a struggle. Luckily, some cider about to waste away at the back of the fridge made the decision for me.
It resulted in a crackily crusted beauty of a bread, with a crunchy snap at the surface and a soft but chewy interior speckled with tender chunks of apples. I did notice that 475 was just too hot, resulting in a slight char on some of the edges. Next time I'll reduce the heat to 450 and see how that goes. I'm relaying this recipe by weight, since that's really to only way that proportions can remain the same from one cook to another. If you enjoying baking and haven't yet invested the $20 for a scale I only have one question - why not? No one measures the same way, so for good results - weigh it out!
This would make a good snack, breakfast or side for a nice pork roast. It doesn't need any butter - it's beautiful on its own. Any stale bread would make an excellent bread pudding.
No-Knead Apple Bread
inspired by and closely based upon Jim Lahey's recipe in "My Bread"
1 small apple (I used a pink lady), peeled, cored and chopped into small bits
65 g (~1 cup) of chopped dried apple slices
280 g (~2 cups & 2 Tbsp) bread flour
20 g (~ 2 Tbsp) whole wheat flour
4 g (3/4 tsp) salt
1 g (1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 g (1/4 tsp) cinnamon
250 g (1 cup) apple cider
In a medium bowl, stir all ingredients together with a wooden spoon. The dough will be wet and sticky. Cover and let sit overnight (at least 12 hours).
Dust the dough's surface with some flour. Using well-floured hands, form the dough into a ball by tucking the edges of the dough under the center. Dust a tea towel with flour or wheat bran. (If you like you can lay out an apple slice to crown the loaf.) Gently transfer the dough to the towel, seam side down and wrap the towel around to cover it. Allow to rise for one or two more hours. The dough is ready when it's almost doubled in size and pressing your finger into the dough leaves an indentation that doesn't spring back.
About 30 minutes before the dough is done rising, put a large cast iron (or ceramic) dutch oven with its lid in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 450 F.
When everything is preheated, use pot holders to remove the preheated pot from the oven and remove the lid. Quickly and gently invert the dough from the towel into the pot, replace the cover and return to the oven for 45 minutes.
Remove the lid and continue to cook until the bread turns a chestnut brown color - no more then 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool until the bread stops "singing" - making crackling noises - about 20 minutes.