When this recipe came to me last year via my mother-in-law's neighbor I was thrilled. I'd been trying to make artisian type bread (chewy with a firm crust) with some luck but found the recipes long and the process slow. I was far from being able to share the bread with anyone beside our family. Then I tried this recipe and right away I knew this was a bread I had to share. I bake the bread in 2 1/2 quart white Corningware round casseroles. I can fit four in my oven at a time. If you're heating up the oven you might as well make some extra loaves to share! We've also had great fun with many variations including herb; cinnamon, nut and raisin; olive and cheese, and multi-grain. This is the original recipe but I use a bit more salt and bake it at about 425 for around 20 minutes with the lid on and another 12 minutes with the lid off. This will depend on how hot your oven runs.
New York Times No-Knead Bread
(adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery)
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1 5/8 cup water
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 5/8 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, 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.
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) 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.
Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.