Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Comfort Food : Herbes de Provence Rustic No Knead Bread

Rustic Herbes De Provence Bread The 'cast iron pot no knead recipe' is something that it seems a lot of people know but continue to keep as a secret to themselves, but before I made the addition of Herbes de Provence it had to start somewhere, right?

A little googling and I found very similar recipes that were adapted from Sullivan Street Bakery (New York City) and Mark Bittman, "The Secret of Great Bread: Let Time Do the Work," The New York Times, Nov. 8, 2006. So just in case the legal types get their knickers in a twist, I think have all the bases covered!

Herbes de Provence Rustic No Knead Bread

This bread is almost effortless to make because it requires no kneading. Instead, the dough is allowed to slowly rise over a long period of time. Then it is baked in a preheated covered cast-iron pot, which helps produce a crispy, bakery-style crust on the finished loaf.


3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 3/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbls  Herbes de Provence
Cornmeal as needed


In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt, Herbes de Provence. Add 1 5/8 cups ( 1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbls) water and stir until blended; the dough will be shaggy and very sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at warm room temperature (about 70°F) until the surface is dotted with bubbles, 12 to 18 hours. (my house is usually in the 67-68°F range so it took the full 18 hours)

Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle the dough with a little flour and fold the dough over onto itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or your fingers, gently and quickly shape the dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel, preferably a flour sack towel (not terry cloth), with cornmeal. Put the dough, seam side down, on the towel and dust with more flour or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise until the dough is more than double in size and does not readily spring back when poked with a finger, about 2 hours.

At least 30 minutes before the dough is ready, put a 2 3/4-quart cast-iron pot in the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F.

Carefully remove the pot from the oven. Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over, seam side up, into the pot; it may look like a mess, but that is OK. Shake the pan once or twice if the dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the loaf is browned, 15 to 30 minutes more.

Transfer the pot to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Using oven mitts, turn the pot on its side and gently turn the bread; it will release easily. Makes one 1 1/2-lb. loaf.

When I've done this recipe in classes I used a 5 Quart Cast Iron Pot, if you're pot is that large just double the recipe. (but split the dough and let it rise in two bowls, a few times when I tried to let the huge double dough rise the extra weight of the dough did not let it rise a high as I would have liked. In classes I actually made two varieties (herbes de provence and plain (omit herbes) versions, both balls of dough were plopped into the hot pot at the same time and baked perfectly. The breads came apart  at the point in which the two varieties met.