I’ve been making the no-knead bread regularly all winter. A loaf a week or so — last week I made rolls from the dough for sandwiches — they were okay, not as good as the regular no-knead since I didn’t do them in the Le Cruset.Yesterday, I had a loaf proofing and I thought I’d experiment with baking it as a loaf. I have an old carbon-steel loaf pan — I don’t know where it came from — maybe the box of stuff my mother sent me when she gave me her KitchenAid Mixer — but I figured that I’d put it in the oven and let it heat up while the oven preheated to 450. I also put a little metal baking pan in to get hot. When everything was hot, I sort of dumped the puffy dough in the loaf pan, stuck it in the oven and dumped some ice cubes in the baking pan for steam and let it go for 40 minutes.
It came out okay, but not great. The crust didn’t do that fabulous thing it does when you cook it in cast iron, and the color wasn’t great. However, the crumb was nice — not big holes like when you bake it the regular way, but a nice sort of sandwich bread. If I do this again, I’ll probably brush the top of the crust with milk so it browns.
While the no-knead bread has been fun to play with all winter, and I think it’ll always be a recipe I rely on as an easy and tasty rustic loaf, I’m getting more and more interested in expanding my repetoire. I like kneading. I like the whole process of making bread, and in some crucial way, the no-knead recipe seems like a recipe for people who don’t like making bread. So I pulled Nancy Silverton’s Breads from the La Brea Bakery out of my bookshelf last night and decided to take a shot at her core recipe. So, tomorrow: Nancy Silverton’s Country White bread — it’s out there fermenting as I write.