A couple of years ago, when mom was visiting from Baku, I wanted to proudly demonstate my new baking skills to her. She watched curiously, expecting difficult techniques and methods, but soon realized that no specials skills were involved in the making; I mixed a few ingredients together, never kneaded anything but stirred with a spoon, let the mixture rise, then plopped it into your a lidded pot to send in the big oven. She was, however, amazed by what came out of the oven—a beautiful, rustic, golden loaf that she confirmed could beat any store-bought bread out there. “This is just like the bread they baked in your grandpa’s bakery!” she exclaimed happily. I was even happier to hear that.
My maternal grandfather Najaf who I hear had a great business mind and loved baking, started a bakery in the 40s of the last century in the northwestern region of Balaken. The bread supplied the entire region with bread for many years. Sadly, the famous bakery did not last too long after grandpa passed away. I was born a year later. I used to always ask my mom about the kinds of bread they made in the bakery and whether there was any recipe preserved as I wanted to recreate it. Alas, the recipe was lost forever and nobody had it.
So, all of a sudden this bread that I baked in California became a connection. Mom said I didn’t need to look any futher and that this was the recipe and she even nicknamed the bread the “Najaf bread.” In my imaginary world I saw this tall, big, bold charismatic old man beaming with pride for the granddaughter he never met but who shared his passion for bread making and who actually made bread that looked and tasted like his. The granddaughter was beaming with pride, too.
Alright, enough of my imaginary world. Let’s learn how to make this amazing bread.
So what is this bread all about? Can you make it, too and have your family beam with pride for your baking skills? You sure can. In fact, I dare say this will be the easiest bread you will ever make in your entire life (bread machines not counting). And you will love it so much that you will never buy bread from a store. Not only this bread is easy to make but it is real, it is rustic, it is fresh, and it is home made, so you know exactly what’s in it.
This bread, my friend, is called a no-knead bread. It is the revolitionary bread that was published in New York Times back in 2006 based on the reipe from Jim Lahey from Sullivan Street Bakery. The recipe was on my to-do list ever since and I finally gave it a try using the adaptation from my blogger friend Sofya’s wonderful blog. I never looked back. I’ve been in love with it ever since. I’ve been baking this bread non-stop for the past 3 years.
As the name suggests, there is no going into the dough with hands, kneading it for minutes until it is smooth. You leave the job to a spoon to do this. The rest is even easier.There are only a few ingredients you will need to make this bread–flour, salt, yeast, and water. The original recipe is for white bread, but I’ve adapted it to bake whole wheat bread and loved the result. To make white bread, I use unbleached all-purpose flour, for whole wheat—whole wheat four and a small amount of flaxseed meal.
So the simplest of doughs, a pot, a hot oven, and let the baking begin!
Here’s how. Let’s start with whole wheat bread.