No Knead Bread & Parchment Paper
By: Joe Valencic, Mentor, Ohio
I see this topic come up frequently, especially when someone is being challenged by handling this very loose dough. Some folks can understand a verbal description of using parchment paper, but some need to SEE what is being explained in order to fully understand. I'm a person who likes lots of pictures to make sure I'm doing things as described, and for those of you who are like me, here's a short tutorial on working with parchment paper and no-knead bread dough.
I mainly work with round baking vessels for this bread, but I do own one La Cloche Oblong Clay Baker. Here are two of my many choices for baking vessels, and the proofing baskets I use for them. Notice how the baskets are similar in size to the baking dishes. This is important so that the proofed dough is not larger than its baking vessel.
I take a sheet of parchment paper and work it into the basket, being careful to fit it closely to the inside of the basket. Once I'm happy with the paper placement, I trim off the excess so that there is about 2" of paper left over the basket edge for lifting the proofed dough. I then spray a liberal coating of cooking spray on the parchment paper to prevent the dough from sticking to the paper. Shape the dough and then drop it in the basket and cover with plastic to rise for about 60 minutes.
Once the dough has risen and is ready for the oven, I like to "dress up" my No-Knead bread with a good topping of 10-grain cereal. I take a spray bottle of water and wet the top of the dough so the grain will stick, then sprinkle a liberal amount of cereal on top of the loaf. You could also use wheat bran, oatmeal or other toppings that you enjoy.
You're now ready to put the dough in the cooking vessel. Just lift the dough by the parchment paper edges and place the whole thing into your pot. Put on the cover and bake as usual. To save energy I like to bake two loaves at a time. The dissimilar shapes work very well for this, but I can also fit two round baking dishes in my oven. If doing this, make sure there is at least 1" between vessels and away from walls so the air can circulate around the pots in the oven.
When the bread is done remove the pan from the oven using long oven mitts. Don't try to lift the bread by the parchment paper, because it will just fall apart in your hands.
Tip the bread out of the pan using the oven mitts and place on a wire rack to cool. For best results, allow bread to cool for at least two hours before cutting.
If you did it all correctly, you will be left with beautiful, delicious bread and a shell of parchment paper to throw away.
I hope this makes your No-Knead baking experience more enjoyable.