Now that it’s autumn I have a strong urge to make soup, bake and make fresh loaves of crusty bread. I’ve made this no-knead bread a few times now and it gives me so much pleasure to smell the bread baking in my kitchen. It also give me great pleasure to eat it straight out of the oven slathered with butter, which I did last night with a big bowl of tomato soup. This recipe easily can handle the addition of ground flax seeds, cheese, dried fruit, nuts, olives, or whatever you like in your artisan bread. And sometimes just plain ol’ white bread is good too! -bvox
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
- 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for dusting
- ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons water
In a large bowl stir together the flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a plate and let it rest on the countertop for 18-24 hours at room temperature.
The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles (see image below). 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, then roughly shape into a ball. The original recipe says to: generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour. Fold it over the bread or cover with another cotton towel and let it sit for another hour or two.
This is what I like to do, because it’s easier: After I’ve shaped it into a rough ball, I place it seam side down on a floured piece of parchment paper that is on top of a cutting board. Then I sprinkle the remaining flour on the top of the dough and cover it with a clean cotton towel. I lift the whole piece of parchment into the hot pot quickly.
While the bread is resting, preheat the oven to 450°. Put a 6-8 quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When the dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and flip the dough over into the pot; it may look like a mess, but that’s OK (or you can use my parchment trick). Cover and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake another 10-15 minutes, until it’s nice and golden.