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Crusty No Knead Bread with Fennel Seeds & Raisins

February 26, 2012

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About 5 years ago a wonderfully crusty no knead bread recipe was published in The New York Times. For home cooks like me, it was a revelation. The recipe was republished extensively, and it became an instant hit.

Meanwhile, at a storefront on 9th avenue in NYC, one of my favorite food shops, Amy’s Bread, was continuing to serve up a magnificent loaf that had wowed me for at least a decade: semolina bread with raisins & fennel seeds.

This recipe is my hybrid version of these two fabulous creations. (I plan to work on a version that includes semolina flour & will post it after I get it right.)

What’s great about this bread is not only how foolproof & flavorful it is, but also how adaptable.

A friend told me she mixed up the dry ingredients for the original New York Times recipe in a bunch of ziplocks, then threw the bags in the pantry until the day she wanted to bake bread, at which point she grabbed one & did so. BRILLIANT!

I now do the same, but I also halve the contents in each ziplock, so I can bake smaller loaves just as easily.

The recipe below is for the halved, smaller loaf, which easily serves 4 during dinner.

If you want a bigger loaf, just double everything, leave headroom under the foil, and increase the uncovered baking time to 30 minutes.

But I warn you: no matter the loaf size, you will NOT be able to stop eating it!

You’ll Need:

1 1/2 cups bread flour

1/2 packet instant yeast

3/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup water (or perhaps a little more)

2 tbs fennel seed

1/2 cup raisins

Canola oil

A mixing bowl

A dinner plate

A Pyrex loaf pan

Plastic wrap

Non stick aluminum foil

Steps:

1. In the mixing bowl, combine the bread flour, yeast & salt.

2. Add the water and stir with a fork. The dough should look evenly moist & shaggy. If it looks a bit dry, add a bit more water. (This is because flour varies.)

3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm location (about 70 degrees).

4. Let it sit there for 4 hours.

5. After 4 hours, place the empty Pyrex loaf pan in the oven and set the oven to 450.

6. As the oven & loaf pan preheat, pour enough canola oil on the dinner plate to coat it well.

7. Add the raisins & fennel seeds to the dough in the bowl, then stir it all together with a fork until well mixed.

8. Fold the dough over itself a few times, then place it on the oil coated plate, turn it to coat all sides with oil, then cover it with plastic wrap.

9. Let it rest 30 minutes.

10. Pull out a sheet of non stick aluminum foil large enough to cover the loaf pan.

11. After the dough has rested, tip it into the heated Pyrex loaf pan. (I leave the loaf pan on the rack in the oven as I do this)

12. Cover with the non stick aluminum foil, crimping the sides as well as you can.

13. Bake for 30 minutes.

14. Remove the foil and bake 20 minutes longer, until the loaf is very well browned.

15. Turn the loaf out onto a bread board and allow to cool for as long as you can resist cutting into it!

16. Serve with softened butter on the side.

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