A crispy crust and a perfect crumb of cheese, herbs and citrus
Bread is life. We don’t care how many diets exist which denounce bread as an evil scourge on waistlines, we love it. For us, bread is what makes a meal complete, like when we make green beans with potatoes and use bread to sop up all of the delicious sauces. Or when we finish our horiatiki salad and use bread to soak up the liquid left behind; olive oil, oregano, the juices from the tomatoes and little crumbs of feta. Divine. Life is too short to be denied carbs.
We enjoy making bread almost as much as we enjoy eating it, and there are so many varieties to try. Depending on our mood, and the meal we are planning to serve, we may make kouloures, pita bread, or tiganopsomo with feta. All simple, all delicious, and all quite quick. Other times we are less pressed for bread, and can take our time, and plan ahead. That’s when we turn to our technique, learned from cookbook author and baker Jim Lahey, for no-knead bread. These recipes require some planning as the dough needs at least 14 hours to rise before it can be baked, but is sure is worth the wait. We have already shared with you our recipe for no-knead bread with olives and feta and now we are so excited to share our newest creation. A lovely loaf made with halloumi, mint and orange; a perfect flavour combination combined with a perfect technique. All bread is life, but this bread is living large.
No-knead breads are very easy to make, but they do require time; minimally about 14 hours of rising for the dough. Remember this when planning your baking.
Along with time, you will need a heavy duty pot with a fitted lid. We have made no-knead bread using an enamelled cast iron pot as well as a glazed ceramic one. Unfortunately, despite being of good quality and costing a pretty penny, the latter got damaged. Although the pot is still very usable, it is far less pretty than it used to be. The glaze didn’t seem to withstand the high heat as well as our enamelled cast iron pot does.
Speaking of pots, you want to select a pot which is neither too large nor too small. In fact, if you have a pot which is about the same size as the bowl you have used to allow your dough to rise in, that is ideal. If your pot is too big, your dough will spread out and your bread will be a little flatter than it needs to be.
We like to line the pot with parchment paper when making no-knead bread that contains cheese. This makes clean-up easy and melted cheese less of a problem. But, you have to be super careful not to burn yourself when placing your parchment paper into the pot which has already been heated through (as described in the recipe). We have tried placing the parchment paper into the pot before it first goes in the oven and have found that this causes the parchment paper to burn in places, which then can ruin your bread.
In Jim Lahey’s book My Bread, he suggests using bread flour for his recipes. We used to do that, until one day when we had run out of bread flour and were feeling quite rebellious. Instead of going bread-less, we opted to use all purpose flour (which incidentally, is usually less expensive than bread flour) to make one of his recipes. The result…perfectly fine. So, in the recipe which follows, if you want to use bread flour, go ahead but we usually use all-purpose flour.
When you remove the bread from the oven and place it on a cooling rack, take a listen. As described by Lahey, you can hear the bread “singing”. It is really a glorious sound, a kind of crackling which occurs when steam escapes from the bread. The sound of delicious things to come.
If you’d like to see more delicious breads, see these:
No-knead bread with halloumi, mint and orange
- Kitchen scale; Cast iron or enamel pot with lid; parchment paper
- 400 grams bread flour, or all-purpose flour (3 cups)
- 3 grams instant dry yeast (3/4 teaspoon)
- 250 grams halloumi, cut into small cubes
- 150 grams orange juice
- 225 grams water, cool
- 1 tbsp grated orange zest
- 1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
- vegetable oil for greasing bowl
- In a medium sized bowl combine the flour and yeast. Mix with a fork to combine.
- To the bowl add the halloumi, orange juice, water, orange zest and chopped fresh mint. Mix well, either with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until there is no dry flour visible (it is well mixed). Cover your bowl with plastic wrap, cover that with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rest in a draft-free place for at least 12 hours and up to 18 hours.
- After the long resting period, take a similar sized bowl and coat it with a bit of vegetable oil. Sprinkle some flour into the oiled bowl and shake the bowl around to distribute the flour as evenly as possible over the oil. Then, simply transfer the dough (which should have risen quite a bit at this point) from the original bowl into this second bowl.
- Cover with plastic wrap, and then a clean kitchen towel. Allow to rise in a draft-free place for at least 2 hours.
- Approximately 30 minutes before you will be baking your bread, preheat your oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a covered cast iron or enamel pot (bit enough to hold your bread dough) onto the middle rack and allow it to come to temperature for at least 30 minutes.
- Carefully remove the pot from the oven, remove the lid, and carefully place a piece of parchment paper along the bottom of the pot and coming up the sides. Use oven mitts or a wooden spoon to help you place the parchment paper in the pot as it is quite hot and you must be careful not to burn yourself. Transfer the dough into the pot and onto this parchment paper. Replace cover, and place pot onto the middle rack of your oven. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove the lid and continue to bake the bread for 15 – 20 minutes. Remove pot from oven and using heat proof mitts or gloves, remove the bread from the pot. Allow it to cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before cutting into it.