I’ve been experimenting with no-knead bread recipes lately and can report HUGE SUCCESS in creating incredible fresh bread without a bread machine and with very little baking skill. After honing my basics, I struck out on a mission to create the ultimate cheese olive loaf. What I created can only be called a god among bread.
3 cups bread flour (not All Purpose flour, bread flour. AP flour doesn’t rise quite right)
1.75 cups warm water
1/4 tsp Fast Acting Yeast/Quick Rising Yeast
1 tsp Garlic Salt
2/3 cup finely diced large green olives
1/3 cup finely diced sun dried tomato
1 1/4 cup freshly shredded extra sharp aged white cheddar
This recipe is essentially just combining stuff then letting it rise, then baking it. The real trick to this recipe is actually the cheese. You will need a nice aged white cheddar. I recommend at least a 6 year extra sharp from Wisconsin. The power of the flavor of the cheese will counteract having to use a lot of it. So the sharper, the more “in your face” the cheddar, the better off you are because you really don’t want to use more than a cup and a quarter for a loaf this small.
Combine the garlic salt and flour in a much-larger-than-you-need mixing bowl. Remember we’re making bread dough so it’s going to need to rise. Once combined, sprinkle in the olives, tomato and cheese. Give it a rough mix with your hands just to get things integrated, but don’t spend too much time on it. Sprinkle it all over the top of the flour/salt mix and mix it with your hands for 30 seconds.
To the 1.75 cups warm water, add the 1/4 tsp of yeast and stir. Let sit a moment, then grab a mixing spoon and pour the water/yeast mix into the ingredient mixture you have created, stirring like a mad man to get all the dry flour mixed in with the water. After a few minutes you should end up with a *very* sticky and shardy mixture, both a bit wetter *and* a bit dryer than you would expect. No worries. Cover with saran wrap and let sit for 18 hours.
That’s right, I said 18 hours. During this time it will rise in the bowl, which is why we wanted to make sure we had some room in there. After 18 hours you should see tiny bubbles dotting the surface, and the dough might have doubled in volume.
Set aside a large sheet of wax paper. Lightly dust it with corn meal or some more bread flour such that even if the dough is still wet, it won’t cling readily to the paper. Gently scrap the dough out of the bowl onto the paper. Covering your hands with bread flour so your fingers don’t stick to the dough, fold it once on itself with the floured side (from the dusted wax paper) facing out. Lightly dust with more corn meal or flour, and cover with another sheet of wax paper.
Let the dough rise again for 1.5 hours.
At that point, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Take a 5.5 quart or larger ceramic crockpot liner or a pyrex bowl or container, and put it in the oven. Let the dough rise for another 30 minutes while your baking pot preheats. You’ll know the dough is ready when it’s swelled in size another 25% or more, and when you poke it, it does not spring back. Don’t worry about the size though, if it doesn’t increase, still just use the poking trick. This recipe is really tolerant of mistakes or other normal baking errors.
Ok now the only tricky part. I really recommend a crockpot ceramic liner pot for this, because you want the loaf to rise enough for high (sandwich) slices. But you don’t want to actually fold the dough on itself such that you get veins of flour or corn meal in the loaf itself.
Take the baking pot out of the oven with mitts onto a safe surface. In one swift motion take off the top wax paper, and grasping the bottom layer, lift the dough and dump it into the pot. Shake the pot quickly to settle the dough using an oven mitt. Two or three hard shakes should work. Cover the pot with an oven-safe lid, or foil works fine too, and put it back in the 450 degree oven for 30 minutes.
During this time, the smell of BREAD AWESOMENESS will begin to fill your kitchen, especially with the shredded cheese melting into the baking loaf. At the 30 minute mark, open the oven, remove the cover or foil, and bake for another 15 minutes to create a nice hard crust.
At 15 minutes, take the pot out of the oven, you should have a nice hard bowl shaped loaf. Dump it upside down onto a cooling rack then quickly upright it. Let the loaf cool for 30 minutes. If you have done your job right, the loaf should crackle like a bowl of rice krispies as it cools.
There is no better sound on earth I think.
Once cooled you have three options. Slice off what you want to eat right away, then slice the rest and immediately freeze it. Or, present the loaf within 4 hours of baking as part of a meal or larger spread. Or, with enough people, just eat the whole loaf right there.
You should end up with a DELICIOUS heavy white loaf that is moist, slightly rubbery (in a good way) due to the cheddar, and that has strong notes of the sweetness of the tomato and the salt of the olives.