What in this big blue marble is more comforting and inviting than fresh baked bread? Fresh baked bread that you don’t have to knead! Yes my friends, NO-KNEAD bread that is fabulous! All you need is time. About 18 hrs of it and you will find yourself slicing into a loaf of the most scrumptious bread your mouth has ever tasted. The crust is incredible, crunchy and crisp, and the bread itself is light and delectable. I can imagine people coming over for dinner and thinking that I stopped at an Artisan bread shop to buy it, it’s that good.
You need a heavy 6 to 8 quart pot, cast iron, enamel, ceramic, etc. This produces a very wet sticky dough which the yeast loves. Even if you wanted to knead it, you would find it impossible, it kind of just goops out the bowl. Baking it in the oven in a pot creates a misty, humid environment and the bread just loves that. The moisture keeps the bread chewy and makes the crust to die for. If you only make one loaf of bread in your entire life, let it be this one.
Jim Lahey at the Sullivan Street Bakery
3 cups all purpose flour or bread flour, more for dusting.
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1 ¼ teaspoon salt
1 5/8 cup water (I used 1 ½ plus 2 tablespoons)
Cornmeal or wheat bran for dusting.
In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add water and stir until blended. Dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rest at least 12 hours, preferably 18 at a warm room temperature (70 degrees).
Dough is ready when the surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it. Sprinkle with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
This is what it should look like. See all the bubbles?
Using enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape the dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let it rise for 2 hours. When it is ready, the dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked.
At least a half hour before the dough is ready, heat the oven to 450. Put a 6 to 8 heavy covered pot in the oven as it heats. When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven. Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over into the pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that’s ok. Shake the pan once or twice if the dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake for 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cook on rack.
This bread is so good you don’t even need to butter it.