I have a penchant for artisan bread. Honed from a very young age. Round, rustic loaves with a thick, crisp crust and a moist chewy crumb. From time to time I lazily anticipate making my own bread at home. Spurred on by the romanticism of the idea and the imagined heady aroma of freshly baked bread wafting through the house. Until the reality of the time consuming process sets in – all that kneading, pummelling and proving of the dough. Time poor I relent and revert to beating a well worn path to my local bakery for my daily bread. I vaguely remember the No-Knead bread phenomena which swept the globe when Mark Bittman posted Jim Lahey’s recipe for No Knead Bread in the New York Times in 2006. Just four ingredients; flour, water, yeast and salt. And more importantly no kneading. Five minutes of preparation. A quick stir and 18 hours of proving in a bowl. Leaving Mother Nature to work her magic.
My interest may have been more than a little piqued at the time, but in the hurly burly of everyday life that recipe was forgotten. Until this week when browsing the blogosphere But I’m Hungry’s post, No Knead Bread, caught my eye. The images of Christina’s perfectly formed loaves had me drooling. I couldn’t quite believe that No Knead Bread could look so wonderful. On closer examination she had even used Jim Lahey’s original recipe. A no brainer really, I just had to give this a try. And now I’m hooked. As my first perfect loaf of bread came out of the oven I prepared another batch of dough in readiness for the next morning. Many thanks to Christina at But I’m Hungry for the inspiration. Check out her blog post here. You really must try this. At least once. The recipe is pure genius producing crusty artisan bread that rivals that of my neighbourhood bakery. And that is really saying something.
Crusty No Knead Artisan Bread
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
flour, cornmeal or semolina for dusting
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 room temperature.
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.
USING just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to the work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, semolina 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.
AT LEAST a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 225 C. Place a heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in the 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.
I’ve wanted to make fresh bread, but don’t really have room for a bread maker. I must give this recipe a try!
Please do, making this bread made me smile. It was so satisfying to bake a simple loaf of bread. We sliced it slathered it with butter straight out of the oven. So delicious.
Just flour and water – white flour at that? I’m not a bread-maker, but this sounds a lot like how I make glue…I do believe you, because you are such a great cook. But this time, it’s hard 🙂
I too was skeptical at first but….it does work and produces a wonderful loaf of crusty bread. That’s why you should give it a try….at least once. Be warned it does produce a wet and elastic dough but I think that is part of the secret behind this fantastic bread. Are you curious enough to give it a go?
Tres facile…..healthy carbs
Even more tempting then…
I’ve been going mad for this all winter, and trying to convince everyone I know to give it a go. Might explain my excesswinter kilos…
Who would even dream that baking bread could be so easy. The end result is so delicious and hard to resist. I’m thinking I might need to ramp up the 5-2 to 4-3 to get rid of my winter kilos. How sad I did the math – assuming 12 slices per loaf there are 114 calories per generous slice. But worth every bite.
Off and running – will report back tomorrow…btw – do I see baking paper in the bottom of the le creuset? do I need to do this too? 🙂
Well done. I don’t think that the baking paper is entirely necessary – I used it out of habit. Very easy to place a sheet of baking paper over the top of the dough and invert into my oversized pot. Strictly speaking a dusting of semolina or cornmeal will keep the bread from sticking. Looking forward to hearing about how the bread turns out.
That looks amazing.
Thanks. I still can’t believe I baked it.
I know what you mean. I once experimented with a sourdough loaf and it looked like road kill. Your loaf looks delicious!
Perhaps you should give this a try. Ruby the Black Labrador has just mixed up a batch.
I will, thanks for sharing. I’ll let you know how it turned out.
Wow this looks sooo nice!
There is definitely something very appealing about homebaked bread. This was so appreciated I’m going to bake another on the weekend.
Love this! I’m really keen to have a crack at making my own bread, and this recipe looks like the perfect recipe to cut my my teeth with.
It’s almost too easy and perfect to be true. But it works. Every single time. Good luck and i’ll be interested to hear how you get on.
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Has the wonder worn off yet? If it has, maybe now it’s safe to tell you that there is even a “quick” version, in case you forget to mix everything up the night before! Only takes 5 hours or so and is almost entirely as delicious as the original. 😉 Happy bread-making!
I’m still pinching myself and have Ibaked four loaves now – each one has turned out perfectly.I would love to try the quick version. Are you willing to share?
Of course! Here it is: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/08/dining/081mrex.html
Thanks for that. It looks very similar to the original with a little more yeast added to the dough. I’ll use this recipe for my next loaf.
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