If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens. ~Robert Browning
Have you ever dreamed of baking bread? I haven't. Then I saw a no-knead bread recipe from the Sullivan Bakery in the New York Times, and it looked so easy that I considered making it. Still no go. THEN my friend Jeff had us over for a football game, chili and this bread, and the bread was the best part of the day. So I gave it a try, and it was one of the easiest things I've ever made. It's also guaranteed to impress everyone at the table. It's also pretty forgiving - I've altered it with wheat flour, used yeast that was 3 months past the sell-by date, and accidentally dropped it in water. All on the same bread, and it still turned out beautifully (the picture below proves it). The best thing to do is give it lots of time, though it still works with less time.
Bread is a processed food, but home-made bread makes people feel loved. All you need for this is to think about doing it a day in advance. Wrap up any leftovers snugly - otherwise you'll have a brick in the morning.
No Knead Bread
14-20 hours of rising time needed
- 3 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting (all-purpose works too, but bread flour is better. If you want to substitute wheat flour, use 1/4 cup as a replacement for regular flour)
- 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 and 1/4 salt
- 1 and 5/8 cup water
- Combine flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Mix. Add water and stir until blended. Dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic (I use a produce bag) and place in a warm and quiet place for at least 12 hours, preferably 18. The temperature is best around 70 degrees, though the last time I made this my apartment was much colder. I placed the dough in the cold oven for quiet, and it was fine. This is what the dough looks like before resting:
- After 12-18 hours of resting, go and get your dough. It will have grown into a light and holey item and will look like this: Flour your work surface, put the dough on it, then fold it over once or twice. It'll be a bit sticky. Cover with plastic and let rest 15 minutes.
- Generously coat a cotton towel (not terrycloth) with flour, cornmeal or bran. Use enough flour on your hands and work surface to keep dough from sticking. Grab the dough and work it quickly into a ball, then place dough seam side down and dust with more flour, cornmeal or bran. Cover with another towel and let rise for 2 hours. It will look like this after the final rising:
- Heat your oven to 450 degrees half an hour before the dough is ready. Put a heavy 6-8 qt covered pot in it (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex, or ceramic). I use a Le Creuset dutch oven. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot and turn dough into pot seam side up. Shake pan once or twice it dough is unevenly distributed. It's ok if it looks messy. Cover with lid, bake 30 min, then uncover and bake another 15-20 minutes until it is beautifully browned. Cool on rack.
- Slice and eat!
- The original Jim Lahey's (Sullivan Street Bakery) brilliant no-knead bread recipe in the NYT. Since then many people have tried adaptations so search for more.
- Steamy Kitchen does a beautiful illustration of the recipe, starring her 4-year-old son. If I can do it, it's no wonder a kid can! That's how easy it is.
What I ate: vegetable juice, 1 hardboiled egg, 1/2 papaya, vegetable bun, sticky rice in bamboo leaves, smoked salmon jerky, 1 pear, 3 clementines, 2 hot chocolates, 2 roobois teas, macadamia nuts, dried cherries, dumplings, tofu soup, 40 oz. water