A year ago, my mother gave me a cast iron Dutch oven and a book called “My Bread” by Jim Lahey, introducing me to the world of no-knead bread. I’m still trying to figure out the basics of bread-making (why, oh why, do my loaves always collapse?) but this method works perfectly every time. It requires a little bit of planning ahead, but the result is a super chewy loaf with a crispy crust. Totally worth it.
Here’s a quick pictutorial. (Yeah, I’m in the business of making up words.)
The variations are endless– I’ve made loaves with parmesan, garlic, and kalamata olives. Here’s a very simple wheat version, garnished with a pat of tarragon butter. Mmm mmm good.
Wheat No-Knead Bread
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1 1/4 tsp. table salt
- 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 cups cool (55- 65° F) water
- wheat bran, cornmeal, or additional flour for dusting
In a medium bowl, stir together the flours, salt, and yeast. Add the water and mix with a wooden spoon until you have a wet, sticky dough, about 30 seconds. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size, 12 to 18 hours.
When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface with flour. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece. Using lightly floured hands, lift the edges of the dough in toward the center to make it round.
Place a tea towel on your work surface and generously dust it with wheat bran, cornmeal, or flour. Gently place the dough on the towel, seam side down. If the dough is tacky, rush the top lightly with wheat bran, cornmeal, or flour. Fold the ends of the towel loosely over the dough to cover it and place it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost doubled and holds an indentation.
Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475° F, with a rack positioned in the lower third, and place a covered 4.5- to 5.5-quart cast iron pot in the center of the rack.
Carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven and uncover it. Unfold the towel and quickly but gently invert the dough into the pot, seam side up. (Be careful– the pot will be very hot.) Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep chestnut color but not burnt, 15 to 30 minutes more. Use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to carefully lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly.
Source: Slightly adapted from My Bread by Jim Lahey