Why I Love This Recipe
For anybody who has an irrational fear of baking bread, this simple recipe makes a deceptively good loaf of bread. While not the best bread I've ever had, it's a great recipe to start with, to get over your bread-making fear. It comes from Mark Bittman, author of "How to Cook Everything."
A FEW NOTES: If you are using a Le Creuset dutch oven, you'll need to remove the knob on the lid; it's only rated for heat up to 400 degrees. Luckily, it's held in place by a standard screw, so it's really no problem.
I have made this bread several times with success. What I've found is that the flavor is mildly tangy, but not full-blown sourdough. You won't get that any other way except using a starter. But this bread is good for sandwiches or crostini, anything where you want a hearty bread that will hold up structurally but not overpower the other tastes. I have not experimented much with it, but I suppose you could substitute out a part of the white flour (probably up to 30% or so) for whole wheat, rye,
Ingredients You'll Need
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.
1 5/8 cups water, lukewarm
1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt.
The salt content is a bit on the low side in this recipe (the original). You can go up to 1 tbsp with no problem. The folding described above is in place of any kneading; it effectively redistributes the air bubbles in the dough. I know the recipe's called no-knead, but it really should be called no-effort, because honestly, it takes about ten minutes' worth of active effort from start to finish - the rest of the time, the dough does all the work for you.
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.