3 cups all-purpose flour -- more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups filtered water
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed
In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 1/2 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with grocery bag and twist end to seal. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
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. Make a rectangular pattern about 12" X 12". Fold this over halfway on itself from the left and again from the right and then from the top and bottom. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently shape dough into a ball. Cover loosely with a tea towel and let rest about 15 minutes.
Generously coat a rising bowl*, (or just another bowl) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down in bowl and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover bowl with the same plastic bag 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.
Heat oven to 400 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. Turn rising bowl 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. Remove lid and reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake another 10 - 15 to minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
The bread will look just like bakery bread and have a nice crust. necessary for a fine loaf.
Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.
Pairs Well With
Making this bread is so simple you will have success the very first time you try it. Some recipes for the no-kneed bread suggest a higher temperature but when I raise the temperature, the bottom burns so this works better for me.