Article submitted by Jason E Baker, Goshen, Indiana:
I have always enjoyed Ezekiel bread because its hearty robust rustic flavor, and knowing it's good for me, as far as bread goes, is a nice plus too. While I do enjoy the dense nature of this bread, there are times I long for it to be lighter in texture and airy like a less healthy all white bread would be.
Enter the no knead method: Not only is this method easy to do, but it also creates a loaf that is lighter and airy than other methods, and tastes richer as well -- due to longer fermentation time. You do, however, have to plan your time ahead a bit. After spending a couple quick minutes mixing the ingredients together, there will be a long 12-18 hour rise time as the yeast in the wet sticky dough does the work of kneading for you. This dough will be moister in nature than what you may be used to in bread dough, and after 12 + hours, the dough volume will have approximately doubled in size and will be full of air bubbles -- evidence that the yeast has done its job and providing the airy light texture this method produces.
Here is the step by step method I use for the no knead method. You can be creative and replace the water with equal amounts of things such as beer, carrot juice, whey from cheese making or straining yogurt, or with apple juice and add apple pie spices. You may also substitute the yeast with 1/4 cup of sourdough starter if you like and mix the starter with the water and agave before adding to dry ingredients.
Ingredients for a single loaf:
3 1/2 cups of Ezekiel flour
3 tablespoons of Agave Nectar (may substitute with 15% to 20% greater amount of honey)
1 teaspoon of sea salt (table salt works fine if none available)
1/4 teaspoon active dry organic yeast (or any active dry yeast such as SAF instant)
1 1/2 cups warm water
optional: 2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten (holds your loaf together better and produces a slightly better rise)
Step 1: In a bowl add all dry ingredients (flour, salt, yeast and optional gluten) and combine thoroughly . A Danish dough whisk will make combining both the dry and wet ingredients even easier if you have one.
Step 2: In a cup combine water with agave. Add to the dry ingredients and mix well. Your dough should be wet and sticky and not like normal dough. If your dough is not wet and sticky keep adding additional water, a couple tablespoons at a time, until the dough is. A wet and sticky dough will produce more air bubbles and produce better rise and gluten structure resulting in a much more airy loaf.
Step 3: Cover bowl securely with plastic wrap and allow to set for 12 to 18 hours. After this amount of time, your dough should have increased in volume and many trapped air bubbles may be visible.
Step 4: Lightly oil a bread pan and set aside.
Step 5: Lightly flour a work area and scrape dough out of the bowl onto it using a rounded dough scraper or a rubber spatula. Flour or wet your hands and gently press dough into approximately a 12-inch square, and then fold dough on top of itself one way, and then again on the other side (a dough scraper or a dough bench knife will make this easy if you have one). Cover loosely with plastic wrap and wait 15 minutes.
Step 6: With floured or wet hands shape dough into a mass that is the approximate length of your bread pan and then place dough inside your pan. Cover pan securely with a towel and allow to rise for approximately 1 hour.
Step 7: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool. Slice and serve.
My personal preference is to make this bread in a more rustic fashion in round loaves with a crispier more crackling crust and chewy center. To achieve this, start step 6 as follows :
Step 6 (Variation): Shape dough into a round ball and place into an oiled bowl or into an oiled and dusted (with rice flour or wheat bran) proofing basket. Cover with a towel and wait approximately an hour. When there is a half hour to go, place a round clay baker with lid such as La Cloche or a 4 to 5 quart iron Dutch pot with iron lid into the oven to preheat at 500 degrees Fahrenheit . Though the oven will be 500 degrees, the temperature inside the pot will be much lower and simulates a hearth oven.
Using a preheated pot will keep dough from sticking without oiling and will produce better oven spring (rise). After the hour is up and the pot has preheated for a half hour open the oven, remove lid, flip over bowl or basket containing the dough and allow it to fall in the pot, then replace lid. Close oven and allow it to bake at 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, remove lid, and bake uncovered for 15 minutes longer until the crust has browned and internal temperature is 190 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from oven, place loaf on a cooling rack. Cool, slice, serve, enjoy!
If you have no clay baker or iron Dutch cooker, a 4 quart or so round Pyrex bowl may be used if it has a lid as well. If you are using that do not preheat the bowl in the oven, simply oil the bowl, add dough and allow it to rise for that hour inside the bowl as in step 6 covered with a towel, add Pyrex lid and bake in preheated oven at 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes , remove lid and bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes more .
-Jason E Baker
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