No-Knead Bread

(faux-sourdough for dummies)

In 2006 Mark Bittman, food writer for the New York Times, revolutionized home-bread-baking by introducing No-Knead Bread. Actually he just shared the recipe invented by a New York baker, Jim Lahey. No-Knead bread was a fool-proof miraculous loaf that tasted and looked much better than any other home-baked bread, as well as many of the fancy stuff at your local bakery. Super easy to make, it needed no kneading and no attention whatsoever, only a few minutes of action plus some waiting.

One and a half years later, my favourite food blogger, Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats (at the time writer at Food Illustrated) perfected the recipe adding a faux-sourdough touch to it. He did it by substituting part of the water with some white vinegar and beer, you now, to give the bread that tang and complex yeasty flavour. Well it worked perfectly. I’ve done this recipe so many times, and it never fails. It is quite important to use a cast-iron pot (enameled or bare is the same) to achieve an optimal rise and a crunchy crust, but if you don’t have it, the bread will be still very good using the oven as usual.

Special Equipment

  • cast- iron pot
  • a flexible spatula
Created with Sketch. About 20 hours, 15 minutes active time Created with Sketch. One 500gr loaf


  • 430 grflour (both all- porpous or bread flour will work)
  • 1 grdry yeast (or 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 8 grsalt (or 1 full teaspoon)
  • for the regular version
  • 345 grwater
  • for the faux-sourdough
  • 85 grlager beer
  • 15 grwhite vinegar
  • 245 grwater


The process is quite long but easy: I usually mix the ingredients before I go to bed, and bake it the next day after work.  The dough is gonna be quite loose (85% hydration) and therefore a bit difficult to handle, but there’s not much handling involved really. Here we go:

  1. Mix flour (430 gr), yeast (1 gr) and salt (8gr) in a large bowl. Mix it well.
  2. Add the water (345 gr), or if you are doing the foux-sourdough: water (245gr.) + beer (85gr) + white vinegar (15 gr), and mix it with a spoon, just the time it takes for all the flour to be sucked in the liquids, about 20/25 seconds. Cover it tight with plastic foil and leave it to rest at room temperature for about 15/18 hours.
  3. After the time has passed (it’s probably gonna be the next day), the mix is going to be quite bubbly. With the help of a flexible spatula, pour it on a well floured working surface, sprinkle some extra flour on top, and possibly with the help of a scraper, fold the dough on itself a couple of times, 20 seconds in total. Put it back in a very well floured bowl, cover it again and let it rest for 2 more hours. We’re almost there.
  4. After one and a half hour set the oven to 230°, place the dutch-oven on the lower shelf of the oven, and let it heat up for 30 minutes: it needs to be HOT. If you don’t have a dutch-oven, jump to n. 7
  5. When the 2 hours have passed and the cast-iron is hot, take out the dutch-oven being very careful, place it on your stove-top, open it quickly, and with the help of the flexible spatula just pour the dough into the pot. You don’t have to worry about how it goes in, if it looks all smashed up or ugly: it’s gonna work! (Alternative, less messy method: place a sheet of baking-paper on the table, pour the dough onto said paper, and picking it by the four angles, gently lower it into the pot)
  6. 30 minutes at 230° with the dutch oven’s lid on. Another 15 minutes without the lid. Et voilà.
  7. For no dutch-oven baking: just heat up the oven tray on the lower rack instead of the cast-iron pot. When the 2 hours have passed, place a sheet of baking-paper on the table, pour the dough onto said paper, lift it by the four corners, and place it on the hot oven plate. Bake it for 45 minutes at 230°, covering the bread with some aluminum foil for the first 30 minutes to avoid to burn the top.

Fried Pizza

(a better kind of pizza)

If we decide we want to give meaning to words, you can’t really make good pizza at home. And by pizza I mean proper pizza, you know, the one invented in Napoli in the seventeen hundreds: it needs a brick oven that reaches 450° celsius (so that the dough cooks quickly and doesn’t get too crisp), very specific ingredients for the topping, and so on. Because of course, in time pizza has become literally everything, there’s even people that put kebab on it, imagine.

However, a loophole exists, and it’s what we’re doing here: fried pizza. Or well, a version of it. Fried pizza (pizza fritta) in Napoli is pretty much as popular as regular pizza, often regarded as street food. In it’s highest form, it’s a huge stuffed pizza deep fried in a big pot of oil, basically a big fried calzone. But in some different iterations, fried pizza can be miniature pizza, fried in a pan with a more reasonable amount of oil, and then topped -or not- with a simple tomato sauce and parmigiano. In a way, this is a better kind of pizza, as far as make-at-home pizzas go.


Special Equipment

  • stand mixer
Created with Sketch. 30 minutes to prepare the dough + 10 hours for rising + 15 minutes for frying the pizzas Created with Sketch. about 15 small fried pizzas


  • for the dough
  • 5 dlwater
  • 25 grsalt
  • 1.5 grfresh yeast
  • 850 grflour (50% regular flour, 50% bread flour)
  • vegetable oil for deep-frying
  • for the topping
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons ofoliveoil
  • 400 grpomodori pelati
  • parmigiano flakes


The dough recipe is the same one used by the Official Napolitan Pizza Association (intended for regular brick oven-baked pizza), and it calls for a very small amount of yeast, and as a consequence, a long rising time: this is why the dough becomes so soft and puffed up.


  1. Pour the water (5 dl) in the stand mixer’s bowl and add the salt (25 gr); it will melt completely.
  2. Using your fingers, melt the yeast and add 1/10 of the flour (85 gr). Mix well.
  3. Start the mixer on the lowest speed, and gradually add the rest of the flour (765 gr). Different brands of flour will absorb water differently, so you might need all of it, or less, or a bit more: experience will teach you. Continue mixing for 15 more minutes: the dough will become elastic and separate completely from the bowl. Lay it on a working surface covered with a humid cloth, and let it rise for 2 hours.
  4. Work the dough a bit, and then cut and form the dough balls, 100 gr each, and lay them, ideally, in a container with a lid, or covered with plastic foil. Let them rise for at least 8 hours.

Now is time to prepare a simple tomato sauce for the topping:

  1. Using a mixer or immersion blender, mix the pomodori pelati into a sauce (it’s much better than using regular sauce)
  2. In a small pot  on medium add the oliveoil (2 tablespoon), the clove of garlic, and once it becomes golden brown, add the tomato, plus salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 5/10 minutes.

Let’s fry the pizzas:

  1. Heat abundant natural oil (ideally at 170°) in a deep pot or wok.
  2. Stretch out the  dough balls, one at the time, into round shapes, starting from the center and pressing the air outwards; in this way the pizzas will be thinner in the center, and puffier at the edges.
  3. Add the dough to the hot oil, and cook it for about one minute on each side (or the time needed for the pizza to become golden and crispy).
  4. Top the pizzas with with a tablespoon of tomato sauce and some parmigiano and eat it while the other pizzas are frying.

You can of course eat the fried pizza without any topping (just an extra sprinkle of salt), improvise with your own choice of toppings, and even make stuffed little fried pizzas. But please, no kebab.


(the chewie wonder)

New Yorkers have a bit of a fixation when it comes to bagels: they say that you can only eat a good bagel in New York and everything else is crap. I once met a guy who invented some kind of machinery that was able to replicate the exact chemical structure of New York water, to be able to do NY-style bagels in California… It really sounds like with me and pizza actually, so I can understand them perfectly. But to be honest I can’t see much of a difference between my bagels and the ones you would buy, say, at Absolute Bagels on the Upper East Side. But hey, I’m a profane here! I tried a few different recipes from the web and ended up with one that I think works very well despite being a lot simpler than most.

The bagel-making process is quite fascinating, as it calls for boiling the dough before baking it. Yes, boiling. I donno of any other kind of bread or baking product that contemplate such a thing. I can almost imagine, sometimes in sixteenth century Poland, an old jewish baker dropping some dough in boiling water by mistake and than thinking ‘what the hell, let’s bake it anyway and see what happens”. Et voilà!

Yes, bagels are a traditional bread originated in the Jewish community of Poland and later exported to the US. They have a characteristic chewie texture, a crispy and shiny crust, and the delicious smell of freshly baked bread. And they’re my favored bread of choice when it comes to breakfast or brunch. Egg, bacon and cheese are a good topping, but my favourite is of course cream cheese, salmon, tomato and avocado!

Created with Sketch. 2 hours Created with Sketch. 8 bagels


  • 500 gbread flour
  • 2 tsactive dry yeast
  • 300 gwater
  • 1 tbssugar
  • 1.5 tssalt
  • 1 egg
  • your favourite choice of seeds


  1. Mix the dry yeast together with 1/3 of the water at about 37°C and the sugar, and let it sit there for about 10 minutes: the water will start to bubble a bit.
  2. Add the flour, the salt and the rest of the water and mix the dough with a stand mixer for 10 minutes at a slow speed. the dough should be quite firm and shiny. Shape it into a ball and let it rise in a big oiled bowl for 1 hour covered with plastic foil at room temperature: the dough will double in size.
  3. Once the dough has risen, knead it shortly by hand again and divide it in 8 balls of about 100 grams each. With your thumb make a hole in the center of the dough ball, and stretch it out a bit until you have the characteristic round shape with a hole in it. Let the 8 bagels rest for 10 more minutes on a oven plate or other flat surface, covered with a kitchen towel.
  4. Set the oven at 220°C.
  5. Put a big pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Prepare an oven plate lined with baking paper and start boiling the bagels. Boil 2 or 3 at a time, depending on how big your pot is; the bagels will float and grow in size while boiling, so be careful not to cram the pot. Let the bagels boil for 2 minutes on each side, flipping them halfway using a skimmer. You can boil them a bit less or a bit more, but the more you boil them the more chewie they will become.
  6. Arrange the boiled bagels on the oven plate, mix the egg with a tablespoon of water, brush the top of each bagel, and sprinkle your choice of seeds on each one of them (here I’m using a mix of poppy, line and sesame); the eggwash will give the final shiny color, plus will keep the seeds “glued” to the surface.
  7. Throw the plate in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until they become golden/brown.
  8. Bagels are best freshly baked, but they can also be refrigerated, frozen, re-heated and toasted.