I was watching an old episode of Alton Brown’s show Good Eats awhile back and it was all about baking with your barbeque. He made three different breads with nothing more than a dutch oven and a charcoal grill. He didn’t even use a grill-it was a metal surface he threw hot briquettes on and put the dutch oven directly on the coals. It was like watching MacGyver bake. Thankfully, he did have instructions for using a traditional oven. I have nothing against charcoal, but I love the smell of baking bread filling the house not the backyard.
Alton’s recipe for Knead-Not Sourdough is just 4 ingredients-flour, yeast, and water. Take 17.5 ounces of flour, 1/4 teaspoon yeast, 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 12 ounces of water and mix in a bowl until no flour streaks remain. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 19 hours. Take the dough out of the bowl and punch down and turn it over onto itself couple times. Cover with a towel and let rest for 15 min. Shape into a ball and let sit (under the towel) for 2-3 hours or until it’s doubled in size. Meanwhile, heat a dutch oven in a 450 degree oven for at least an hour. When the dough ball has doubled, carefully place it into the pre-heated dutch oven, cover and let bake for 30 min. After 30 min, uncover and bake until internal temperature is 210-212 degrees. Allow to cool on a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.
I have made this recipe several times and it is delicious! Even with just the two of us we eat the whole loaf within a day. It has a crisp crust, with a chewy crumb inside-just the way I like it. It’s best still warm and tastes yummy without any toppings but is best with a thin layer of butter melted into its nooks and crannies.
The hardest part of this recipe in my house is finding a room that stays above 70 degrees overnight in the winter months. It usually sits on my desk in my bedroom all night, and I do love that fresh bread (aka: yeast) smell first thing in the morning.
Some people think bread-making is a mysterious art that only experienced bakers can do successfully or that a home cook needs a bread machine to make good bread, but really yeast and time does all the work for you in this recipe and anyone could make this bread. If you don’t have a dutch oven, you can shape the dough into 2 loaves and bake in a loaf pan just as easily. Or if you didn’t have a loaf pan, either, an inverted baking sheet works as an improvised baking stone. Pre-heat as you would the dutch oven and bake the free-form loaf on parchment paper on top of the inverted baking sheet. If the shape comes out a little funny, just call it artisanal bread. 😉 Whatever it looks like, homemade bread tastes far superior and is much cheaper than any store-bought bread!