i have always loved good, crusty bread but for years and years, i was totally intimidated by the thought of baking it myself. i mean, yeast. water temperature. kneading. rising. how does one ever possibly learn how/what/when to do with these important-yet-difficult-to-quantify variables?! the water temperature situation i would be able to conquer now that i have a thermometer but the rest of those… where to even start?! is that what still-happy proofed yeast looks like??
all of this is to say, you can imagine my delight when no-knead overnight bread swept through the interwebs (several years ago – hey, i never said i was trendy at the same time as everyone else…). these no-knead overnight bread recipes took two more of the scary variables out of the equation. we can tell right from the title that kneading is out. no more guessing if this blob of flour and water is too sticky or too dry or if i’ve overworked the dough or not developed enough gluten yet. phew!
the overnight piece not only came with a suggested number of hours, it also reduced the importance of getting the timing juuuuuust right. if something is rising for 2 hours and you leave it an extra half an hour, that’s 25% of the total rising time! if it’s supposed to rise for 12 – 18ish hours and you leave it a bit extra, meh, who’s worried? this is a big win for those of who don’t really remember exactly how big a lump of flour and water was 2 hours ago and can’t accurately gauge if this lump is twice the size of the lump two hours ago (or, heaven forbid, 2 hours and 30 minutes ago!).
left: after the first rise (bubbles!) | right: ready to start the 2 hour rise
so, now that i’ve toooootally talked you out of ever considering making traditional yeast bread (or confirmed that i am, in fact, a lightweight, depending on where you fall on the yeast bread baking spectrum…), let me tell you how easy and forgiving this no-knead overnight rosemary bread is! so easy! so forgiving! in the years since discovering this recipe, i have messed with this recipe six ways from sunday and it basically just always works. total magic i tell you.
let’s talk specifics: you don’t need a borderline-professional strength mixer; you do need a heavy pot or casserole dish with a lid that can go in the oven. you don’t need a lot of yeast; you do need some time (this is a great weekend project – most of the time is hands off). you don’t need a baking stone, peel, special rising basket, rocks, thick metal chains, or pot holders that go up to your elbows (all of which i have seen called for by various “make bakery quality bread at home recipes”); you do need a non-terry cloth cotton towel or two. a scale beats measuring cups every time. are we all in? i think we can do this.
i’ve provided lots of detailed instructions below, but that’s just how i do. you really can’t mess this up (i guess if your yeast was years old and totally dead…). go team yeast bread bakers at home!
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