Sunday, March 15, 2009

No-knead garlic parmesan bread

This recipe is one of several I tried in Nancy Baggett's Kneadlessly Simple book. I am not a huge fan of no-knead breadmaking as I don't mind the kneading (especially since I am the lucky owner of a bread machine, which means that, when I don't have the time or energy to knead by hand, I just throw all the ingredients in the machine, select the dough cycle and let the machine take care of the temperature, the mixing and, sometimes, the first rise).
But I still find Baggett's book rather amazing as it manages time and again to produce great breads with minimum effort.
While in most of her other recipes, I replaced the yeast with sourdough starter (with very good results), in this one, I stuck to yeast. The only thing I changed is the way I baked the loaf. From step 17 on, I reverted to my usual way of doing things.
Whenever possible, I like to put the dough in a cold Dutch oven which I cover and put in a cold oven which I then turn on. It saves on the energy bill and it is better for the environment than preheating. It also saves me the trouble of creating steam as the dough self-steams inside the Dutch oven.

  • 1 large head of garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • 10 g freshly grated Parmesan + 2 tbsp for garnish
  • 570 g unbleached all-purpose flour (I use Whole Foods 365 organic)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3.5 g instant yeast (I use SAF)
  • 500 g ice water + more if needed

  1. Peel off the papery outer skin from the garlic but do not separate the cloves. Cut across the top portion to display the flesh inside. Discard the cut-off portion
  2. Put 1 tbsp of olive oil in a small ovenproof dish, dip the cut side of the garlic in the oil, then turn the head cut-side up, place in the cup and cover the cup with foil
  3. Bake in a preheated 350 F/177 C oven for 35 to 45 minutes
  4. Let cool, then squeeze or scrape the garlic from the cloves into a medium bowl
  5. Add 10 g of Parmesan and thoroughly mash with a fork to form a paste
  6. Reserve (this paste can be made several days ahead and refrigerated; it would need to be brought back to room temp and stirred before using)
  7. In a large bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, salt and yeast
  8. Vigorously stir the water and the garlic mixture into the bowl until the ingredients are thoroughly blended
  9. If too dry, stir in just enough water to blend the ingredients but don't overmoisten as the dough should be very stiff (add flour if necessary to stiffen it)
  10. Brush or spray the top with olive oil
  11. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 12 to 18 hours (I put it in the fridge overnight)
  12. Then let rise at cool room temperature for 12 to 18 hours. If convenient, vigorously stir the dough once partway through the rise (I forgot to do that)
  13. Using an oiled rubber spatula, lift and fold the dough in towards the center, working all the way around the bowl, taking care not to deflate it. Brush or spray with olive oil. Re-cover with plastic wrap
  14. Let rise at warm room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours or if preferred, refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours (I refrigerated overnight again)
  15. Then set out at room temperature and let rise until the dough doubles from the deflated size, removing the plastic as the dough nears it
  16. Put a rack with a baking stone on it in the lower third of the oven
  17. Here is where I didn't do what the recipe says, which is to oil a Dutch oven and heat it in the oven. I just took the dough out of the bowl, inverted it on a piece of parchment paper and, using the paper as a sling, lifted the loaf and put it into a cold Dutch oven
  18. I sprayed it with water and sprinkled the 2 tbsp of Parmesan over the top
  19. I put the covered Dutch oven in the cold oven and turned the oven on (475 F/246 C)
  20. I baked for 30 minutes at 475 F/246 C, then reduced the temperature to 425 F/218 C)
  21. After 10 more minutes, I took the loaf out of the Dutch oven, removed the parchment paper and set the loaf directly on the baking stone
  22. Then I let it bake until golden. When golden, I tented it with foil and continued with the baking until it reached an internal temperature of 207 to 208 F/97 to 98 C on an instant-read thermometer
  23. Then I took it out and let it cool on a wire rack.


  1. Why not just let it rise at room temperature in the dutch oven. Then you don't need to lift it out of the bowl and put in the dutch oven. Seems this would make it even simpler.

  2. Hello, Anonymous! It would be simpler, wouldn't it? The only thing is that the Dutch oven would have had to be in the fridge for extended periods of time and being that cast iron warms up very slowly, I think that it would make for a very long rise to room temperature. But of course it really depends on where you live. In a warm climate, it might be possible. Let me know if you try it!

  3. Hi, you make those recipes? if the answer is yes, can you put photos of the process? thank, grab blog!

    1. Hi Felipe! Yes, I made the bread but no, sorry, I have no pics of the process!



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