One of the best things about living in Europe is, of course, the bread and pastries. Our regular Saturday morning routine involves taking Walter and walking to one of our favorite neighborhood bakeries, Sankt Peders Bageri, which happens to be the oldest bakery in town. They are known for their famous cinnamon rolls, but it’s their bread that gets us outta bed in the morning.
Getting to try so much wonderful bread inspired us to finally try making some of our own. I don’t know why breadmaking has always seemed really intimidating to me, but Pinterest came to the rescue with plenty of no-knead recipes. Many of them instruct you to use a Dutch Oven, such as a Croiset, which we don’t own, but we do own a tiny clay pot called a Romertopf. A Danish friend lent it to us when we moved — since we arrived with very few kitchen items — and it quickly became one of our favorite possessions. We use it for everything from meat, to baked pasta, to ramen. Not only is it super useful and practical, but we swear it has some sort of magic element that makes everything turn out perfectly. You can buy them on Amazon here.
But, whether you’re using a $300 Dutch oven, or a $50 clay oven, I think the important thing with these no-knead breads is to use an oven-safe pan with a lid. You want something that with capture the steam that the loaf gives off while baking, as that is what gives this bread it’s crusty outside and soft inside.
We found a few recipes on Pinterest and then altered them a bit to suit the clay oven and our desire to make a spicy, cheesy loaf. We made it twice this weekend, and it turned out perfectly both times.
3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp Yeast
2 tsp coarse sea salt
1-2 fresh jalapenos, chopped
1/4 cup sharp white cheddar, cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups room-temperature water
1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)
1 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Start with a large bowl and wooden spoon. Add the 3 cups flour into the bowl. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl, and the salt to the other side of the bowl. The internet says this is important so that the salt and yeast don’t combine right at the start. Slowly stir the yeast into its half of the flour, and do the same with the salt. Then, stir the entire mixture together, allowing the yeast and salt mixtures to come together.
Next, add the chopped jalapenos and cheese cubes and stir until both are coated with flour. Then slowly pour in the room temperature water. The internet says that this is another important step — too warm or cold and it will mess up the yeast and could prevent the bread from rising. Stir the water into the mixture slowly using the wooden spoon. This is a pretty rustic loaf of bread, so don’t be perturbed if your mixture is lumpy, you just want all the ingredients combined. Dust your hands with flour, then pick it up and gently shape it into a round loaf and place it back into the bottom of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set somewhere for 12-18 hours.
After you allow the bread to rise for 12-18 hours, you are ready to bake it. Start by preheating your oven to 450 degrees, and place your clay oven or lidded pot into the oven so that it can heat up as the oven does. While the oven and pot are heating, take out a piece of parchment paper. Dust your hands and the parchment paper lightly with flour, then gently lift the dough out of the bowl, reshape it gently in your hands. You don’t want to mess with it too much, remember it’s supposed to be kind of ugly and rustic, but you can shape it slightly and reform it if the dough cracked at all while rising. Set it onto the parchment paper and lightly cover with a new piece of plastic wrap for 45-minutes.
After 45-minutes the bread should have risen again slightly (don’t stress out if it doesn’t look much different, it’s pretty slight), the oven should be hot, and your clay pot should be hot. Remove the pot from the oven, pick the bread up using the parchment paper, and gently transfer into the pan. Poking or jostling the bread too much at this stage could cause it to deflate, so be gentle.
Place the lid back on the pot and place it in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on, then remove the lid and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and use the parchment paper to gently remove the loaf from the pot and sit on a counter or cutting board. Allow it to cool for 20-30 minutes before cutting.
We made an easy goat cheese spread to eat with ours — just simply combined soft herbed goat cheese with a bit of sriracha and stirred until it had a whipped consistency. Enjoy!