[Posted by Ann]
Three times now I have had great results with a recipe based on Jim Lahey’s whole wheat, no-knead bread. It is a happy technique for bakers who plan ahead, and can wait patiently for the final product.
I start the night before and mix two cups of bread flour with one cup of King Arthur white whole-wheat flour, along with the standard small amounts of yeast, salt, and water. My modification to the recipe is to use plain yogurt for part of the water. I have also been adding ground cardamom, grated orange zest, and honey, thanks to a great recipe from Food52.com, submitted by “Spoonwithme.” (see Orange, Honey and Cardamom Dutch Oven Bread recipe on Food52.) The book Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon, recommends soaking whole-wheat flour (and other whole grains) in yogurt or whey prior to baking. The no-knead method, which requires a 12-18 hour first rise, provides the ideal time for the whole-wheat flour to soak up the yogurt and bake up as a lighter, less dense whole wheat bread.
After a second two-hour rise, the bread is baked in a preheated, covered Dutch oven for 30 minutes at 450 degrees, and another 15 minutes uncovered. This produces a crusty, artisan-style loaf. One time I left the oven at 350 instead of 450, and the bread did not become as crisp and crusty, but it was equally delicious in its softer, moister variation. (Or maybe I turned it down to 350 at some point during the baking when I meant to be turning off the timer.) Beginning at phase 2, using a timer is very helpful!!
Here is the version that I baked today:
Phase 1: Mix up the dough
Stir two cups of bread flour, 1 cup white whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur for both), ¾ tablespoon kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon table salt), ½ teaspoon ground cardamom, ½ tsp finely grated orange zest, and ½ teaspoon instant dry yeast. Stir in 1 cup of whole milk plain yogurt. Warm 1-1/2 cup water slightly, and stir in 1 tablespoon agave nectar and 1 tablespoon honey and stir to dissolve in the water, then pour in and stir to thoroughly combine to get a moist, sticky dough. If the dough is still too dry, I may add more yogurt, whey, or water until all of the flour is well-moistened. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a dish towel and let sit for 12-18 hours.
Phase 2 (next day or 12-18 hours later): Prepare for the second rise
Line another good-sized bowl with a clean dishtowel and sprinkle with corn meal and 1 tablespoon of flour. Scrape the dough of out its first bowl and transfer into the cloth-lined bowl, turning the edges in to form a circle. Fold the towel ends over the dough and let rise in a warm location for 1-1/2 hours before proceeding to Phase 3 (the dough will actually rise a total of 2 hours.)
[Note, I inadvertently skipped the step of turning the dough onto a floured board to shape the mass of dough into a ball before placing it in the cloth; the shape of the bowl I transferred into created the ball shape.)
Phase 3: Pre-heat the oven and baking pan
1-1/2 hours into “Phase 2” (start of the 2nd rise) preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Put the Dutch oven and lid (or other covered pot) into the over and set the timer for 30 minutes.
Phase 4: Bake in a covered pan
Carefully (wearing heat-proof mitts) remove the covered pan from the oven. Keeping the mitts on and grasping the sides of the towel, lift up the dough and turn the towel upside down over the hot pan, to deposit the dough into the hot pan. Replace the lid and bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes
Phase 5: Bake uncovered
Remove the lid and bake for 15 more minutes uncovered. (I turned the oven down to 400 at this point today, just to conserve energy)
Release to cool on a board. (A knife will release the loaf if any part is stuck to the pan) Most recipes recommend waiting an hour before cutting, today I cut in after only 40 minutes and it was fine!