I may never knead bread again, ever. I'd heard about this mythical no-knead bread method for years, but never got around to trying it. Like many cooks, I just assumed that how in the world could any decent bread be made without kneading. It just didn't make sense. Then, a few weeks ago, a commenter sent me a link for a no-knead video done by Mark Bittman. As the sender promised, it blew my mind.
The only thing I didn't like about the technique was the way it was finished by baking in a red-hot Dutch oven. I figured there had to be a way to make this work by just baking on a pan as per usual. As I say in the video recipe, there is no trick photography, or editing to make this look easier than it is. It's the kind of recipe someone who has never baked before could master the first time.
Since the holiday season is almost upon us, I decided to replace a bit of the water with pumpkin puree. The results were quite stunning. The flavor is very subtle, just a slight earthy undertone, and the tiny dash of spice is perceivable only to the nose. For plain bread, just use all water, and follow the steps the same way. Make this bread. Enjoy!
1/2 cup plain pumpkin puree (use water for plain bread)
1 cup water plus 1 tablespoon
1/4 tsp dry active yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
3 cups flour
cornmeal as needed