When I announced my Bread Challenge, I mentioned that I have had success with no-knead artisan breads using the method and recipes in Jim Lahey’s book My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method.
My mom and sister have been doing the bread challenge with me, and when they wanted to give one of Lahey’s breads a try I was game. We made the Stecca, which is a thin baguette Lahey developed to use for sandwiches.
The secret to no-knead breads is the very long, slow rise. The dough is mixed quickly and thoroughly, and then allowed to sit for 12 – 18 hours. The long fermentation allows the gluten and complex flavors to develop. These are truly the best breads I have ever made!
For the Stecca, after the dough has it’s overnight rest, and then another rise, it is cut into quarters and stretched out on a lightly oiled pan. I still need practice getting the dough to stretch evenly, but I guess it adds to the rustic look. Lahey suggests either simply brushing the loaves with olive oil and a sprinkling of coarse salt, or embellishing them with tomatoes, garlic, or olives. I left two plain to use for sandwiches and added garlic and olives to the other two loaves.
The night I made these I assembled sandwiches for dinner. I used a sandwich recipe from the same book, though I must admit I did not use all home-made ingredients as the recipe recommends. I did try making the home-made aioli but it was a major FAIL. Still, even with “store-bought” mayonnaise, sun-dried tomatoes, and roast beef, the sandwiches were fabulous.
We ate the embellished loaves for dinner the next night with some soup.
If you haven’t tried a no-knead bread recipe yet, I highly recommend it! I am not going to include a recipe here because they are readily found elsewhere. Here are a couple of places to start:
Mark Bittman started the no-knead craze by writing about Jim Lahey and his method in the NY Times. A link to the basic recipe and a video showing the technique is there too.
Steamy Kitchen has a great post about the Stecca, with detailed pictures and the recipe.