The New York Times No-Knead Bread recipe was first published in November of 2006, and it immediately was all the rage. Needless to say, I jumped right on that bandwagon. By November 2007, none of my old jeans fit me. By November 2008, none of my new 2007 jeans fit me, by November 2009…you get the picture!
I was well on my way to becoming Jabba the Hut, so I prudently decided to only bake this bread once or twice a year rather than every single week. It really is that good and worthy of all the hype it has received. I don’t want to call this “bread making for idiots,” but it is pretty easy, as long as you don’t skimp on the one secret ingredient: time. This bread is best started 12 to 18 hours ahead of time, so a little advanced planning is required.
I will admit this particular loaf wasn’t my best work, and I’m blaming it on high humidity and yeast a tad past its expiration. Sorry the pictures aren’t the best, but they give you some idea of how things will look. Use the link above to get yourself a nice printable copy of this must-try recipe.
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.
1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.
Out of oven