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In the kitchen with Sean McGaughey: "No-knead" crusty fennel bread

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In this week's Chef and Tell chat with Sean McGaughey, the kitchen king of Opus, he admits that the spaghetti from his high school cafeteria has scarred him for life but that his obsession with Jubes Nata De Coco is alive and well. McGaughey has a passion for bread, too, and while baking bread isn't everyone's forte, the following recipe for crusty fennel bread is essentially a "no-knead" recipe that doesn't require major muscle power.

"It's a take on the now-famous New York 'no-knead' bread recipe that's slowly spread across the country over the last five to six years," says McGaughey, adding that the same basic ratios of liquid to flour apply. "Keep in mind that you can use any liquid as long as the sugar content isn't too high," he notes. And, he says, if you're not a fan fennel, feel free add a different spice or flavoring. "I like to use fennel, but play around with the spices and use whatever interests you."

Here's the recipe.

No-knead crusty fennel bread Makes 3 loaves


3 pounds all purpose flour 1 teaspoon active dry yeast 2 tablespoons kosher salt 1 teaspoon fennel seed 1 12-ounce beer 20 ounces cold water 2 tablespoons distilled vinegar


1. The day before, mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. 2. In a separate container, mix the liquid ingredients together. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, and, using clean hands, incorporate until it's fully mixed and no lumps of flour are present. 3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set on the counter for 12 hours.

1. On the day you bake the bread, place a dutch oven (with lid) in a 500-degree oven and let it heat for at least 40 minutes. The dough should be doubled in sized and much wetter than you left it. 2. Turn the dough out on a heavily floured surface. Divide dough into three equal parts and knead each piece 10 times with your hands, forming nice, round dough balls. 3. Let each loaf rest on an oiled piece of parchment paper for one hour. Cut a slit in each loaf to allow steam to escape while baking. 4. Add one loaf to the preheated dutch oven using the parchment paper as a cradle. Put lid on and return pot to the oven. 5. Lower the temperature to 450 degrees and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 35 minutes. The bread should bake for 70 minutes total. Remove from oven and let rest on a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes before eating. 6. Repeat the process with the remaining loaves.

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