I have been baking bread using the most fabulous method every week for the past two years. Until now, I have been an on-again-off-again sort of bread baker. But this method is so easy and delicious, the crust is so crusty and the crumb is so chewy, well... you just have to try it.
The recipe went viral sometime in 2006 when the New York Times published the recipe by Jim Lahey. It's called No-Knead Bread and it's insanely easy to make.
Don't let the unusually wet dough throw you, it should look like this^
Click here for the recipe.
This is the method:
1. Put water in bowl, add flour, salt, yeast
2. Stir together until you have a shaggy dough
3. Let rise for 12-18 hours (covered)
4. Turn the dough out onto a floured board
5. Using a dough scraper, fold the dough over on itself twice, turn, and then twice again.
6. Draw the edges up to the center to make a 'cloak of gluten'(mysterious secret technique)
7. Plop it into a bowl to rise (covered) for a couple of hours until doubled.
8. Preheat oven with bread cloche in it for 30 minutes at 450 F.
9. Turn dough into your bread cloche (or cast iron dutch oven), make a couple of slashes in the top with a razor, and replace cover
10. Bake for 30 minutes, remove lid and bake for 15 minutes more
11. The bread will miraculously pop right out of the pan; cool on a rack. Then you can store the loaf in the cloche (art for daily life!).
Cook's Illustrated has a different recipe for this bread this week, they say that kneading it for a few seconds improves the flavor. My feeling is that it is the long rise that gives the bread its flavor, kneading is more for developing the gluten for texture. On the other hand, ATK is pretty much the definitive word for any recipe they work through. Our newest addiction is their Chicken and Dumplings. While I am a big fan of America's Test Kitchen, I find the site is annoying because lots of the links lead to a subscription page where you have to pay (or sign up for a free trial) before you can access the rest of the site. Oh, man, I just went to give you a link to the Chicken and Dumpling recipe but now it is 'premium content'. Hmpfh. I'll post it here next time I make it.
I didn't show you a picture of the bread while it was rising because I don't have towels as cool as these from skinnylaminx:
Oh, I just noticed that these are sold out (sad face!) of her etsy shop. *Great News! She's not really sold out! Yay! You really should go look and see what else she has there though, she has a great sense of design and I love her colors. She lives in Cape Town, South Africa
She has a tutorial on her blog that shows her amazing paper cuts: