Ready in 45 minutes
Tip: Another recipe with the exact-same name "Almost No-Knead Bread" ranks higher.
1. Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.
2. Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.
3. About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.
An enameled cast-iron Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid yields best results, but the recipe also works in a regular cast-iron Dutch oven or heavy stockpot. (See the related information in "High-Heat Baking in a Dutch Oven" for information on converting Dutch oven handles to work safely in a hot oven.) Use a mild-flavored lager, such as Budweiser (mild non-alcoholic lager also works). The bread is best eaten the day it is baked but can be wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in a cool, dry place for up to 2 days.
I've tried simplifying the Cook's Illustrated NKB 2.0 recipe a bit more with very good results so I thought I'd share (letting bread rise for 2-1/2 hours in the same pan in which it will bake and then baking the bread starting with a cold oven) Here's what I
Mix ingredients and let rest for 18 hours, and knead as directed.
Line a 3 quart enamel cast iron pot (I've replaced my Le Creuset knobs with metal ones from Home Depot. Easy and cheap) with parchment paper and put post-kneaded, formed dough ball into pot. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 2 1/2 hours.
The trick is to not rush the rising time. In my 3-quart pot, the dough almost rises to the top - not quite touching the lid before I slash it. For the 2 1/2 hour rise time, I typically put the covered pot in my COLD oven with the oven light turned on. This smaller pan restricts the dough sides and force the dough to rise upward rather than outward.
After it's sufficiently risen, remove pot cover, slash dough as directed in the recipe, recover the pot and place in a COLD oven.
Turn on the oven to 450 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered for as long as it takes for the bread to get to an internal temperature of 210 degrees (I use a remote food thermometer) to take the guess work out of determining doneness.
I get the same tall, crusty but tender crumb results as doing the exact same steps using a pre-heated oven. The only difference is I'm saving a bunch of energy starting with a cold oven.
I've also experimented with different beers. The heftier lagers definitely impart a stronger yeasty smell and flavor, something my family prefers to the bread using a light lager as recommended in the original recipe.
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