Bread and Bread Alone

Okay, so I’m a little late to the party on this one.

I know, I know: Jim Lahey’s recipe has been kicking around the internet for ages.

In my defense, this is only the third post on this nascent project. But no matter.

What matters is this: you must make this bread now.

no knead bread

After you’ve seen how truly effortless—and, more importantly, how truly delicious—it is, store bought bread is simply no longer an option. It’s made me a believer. A proselytizer, even. No small feat, given my fear of working with yeast.

The beauty of this bread is that time does almost all of the work for you, taking a scant few ingredients and making them into something remarkable. And, bakery quality.

no knead bread no knead bread

Aside from time, the other essential is a heavy lidded pot. The lid helps trap in the steam giving the crust its thick crust. I have a cast iron pot that holds heat and does the trick perfectly, but I’d imagine that a glass pot would work just as well.

Some things to note before you begin:

  • I’ve found that the longer you let this bread rise, the better it gets. A 12-hour rise is good, but 18-hours is better. If you’re a planner, set aside your dough the night before and finish it off in the morning. It may be the best breakfast you’ll have.

  • The recipe calls for 3-cups of all purpose flour, but if you want to make it a little healthier, you can use some whole wheat, too. I think that you could safely use up to 1 cup of whole wheat and 2 cups of all purpose. Anything else might make your bread a little too leaden

  • I haven’t yet tried, but I think that this bread would also work with some additional ingredients. I’m thinking sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, raisins and the like. I’m not sure how it would affect the rise, but it seems worth investigating.

Now, get baking!

no knead bread

No Knead Bread
from Jim Lahey via The New York Times

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
1 5/8 cups lukewarm water
Cornmeal, wheat bran or additional flour as needed

In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt.

Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended. Your dough will be very sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it in a warm room to rest, 12 to 18 hours.

When your dough has rested at least 12 hours and its surface is dotted with bubbles, you’re ready for the next step.

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 leave it resting for about 15 minutes.

Once the dough has rested, shape it 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 your dough is ready to cook, it will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

Heat your oven to 450 degrees at least a half hour before your dough is ready to bake, and put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot 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. Shake your pan to even out the dough. It will continue to even out as it cooks.

Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes.

At the 30 minute mark, remove the lid of the pot and continue to bake. Your bread should cook for another 15-30 minutes, until the crust is browned.*

Makes one 1.5 pound loaf of bread

*15 minutes additional baking time works in my cast iron pot. Of course, your oven and your pots may hold heat differently.

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