No-knead bread

Originally posted at keeping feet on 1/15/07

Food blogs have been abuzz during the past 2 months over a New York Times recipe for Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread. Even seasoned bakers said this bread is fabulous & easy. I'm no seasoned baker, but I came across the recipes and wanted to give it a try Thursday night. And then I discovered I was out of flour. This problem was corrected, and Saturday noon I started on this bread.

Now, this was just about the worst time of day to start on this recipe, primarily because it takes 12-18 hours to rise. If you do the math, that means that the recipe should be completed after the rise somewhere between midnight and 6am Saturday. Way to go, Joanna. As luck would have it, I didn't sleep that well Saturday night, and was awake at my normal weekday wake-up time of 6:30, so I got up and did the next steps for the bread, and let it rest another 2 hours while I tried to get back to sleep. At about 8:30, I preheated the oven and had a hot loaf of bread cooked before church. We cut it & each had some for lunch with leftover pizza, and were both very pleased. The quality of artisan bread supposedly is measured by the number and size of the holes in it. I was pleased with our results

No-Knead Bread
Yields one 1 1/2 pound loaf

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 1/2 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 (Mine sat 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. (I skipped this 15-minute rest, because I wanted to go back to bed.)

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) (6-8 quart is really big. I didn't have anything like this that could go in a hot oven, so I used a preheated pizza stone using loose foil as a cover. After thinking about it, I probably could have cut the bread in half and used smaller casserole dishes.) 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.

And it's as easy as that! Voila!

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