Even if you enjoy kneading bread dough, I would still suggest trying out this bread recipe. Jim Lahey is well-known in the bread world for inventing no-knead bread. It has become quite popular, being published in the NY Times, and in many other blogs, websites, books, and newspapers.
Why is this recipe so attractive do you ask? It’s three ingredients, four steps, and very little hands-on time. This is because one of the secrets to bread-making is actually just letting the bread be. The longer the dough rests, the more developed the flavor, and the less yeast you will need for leavening the dough.
The hardest thing about this kind of bread recipe is having the patience to wait about a day and a half until the bread is ready to eat. But trust me, it is well worth the wait. Making this bread will not only save you the money you spend on a mediocre loaf at the market or a bakery, but also will save you much time, with a final product that tastes a thousand times better.
This bread can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, used to make sandwiches and is great plain or with butter or jam! This is a standard recipe, so if you want to get adventurous and try adding other ingredients like different types of grains, nuts, or flours to the bread, there are limitless possibilities! I’ve tried substituting some of the white flour for wheat flour in the past, which makes it more nutritious and lends more of a nutty flavor.
You will be pleasantly surprised to see a messy lump of dough enter the oven, but emerge as a golden, patterned sphere of complex flavor and a chewy crumb with lots of nice holes!
Makes one 1-LB. Loaf
3 cups (13.5 – 15 oz) all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for dusting
¼ tsp instant yeast
1 ¼ tsp salt
Step 1, Day 1:
If you own a kitchen scale, weigh the flour first (I highly suggest this because it is very easy to end up putting too much or too little flour in when using measuring cups). Using a whisk, mix together flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Add 1 5/8 cups water and use a spoon to stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest for 18 hours (or up to 24 hours) at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
Step 2, Day 2:
Dough is ready when you see bubbles on its surface. 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. Try not to overwork the dough in this step. It can be really sticky and difficult to handle depending on the weather and flour measurements. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rest about 15 minutes.
Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface, use your fingers and/or a pastry/dough scraper or rubber spatula to gently and quickly form dough into a ball. You can do this by folding each side of the dough into its center. Then flour a kitchen towel with flour or cornmeal and put gather sphere of dough at tip and flip over onto towel so that seam side is down. Then dust with a little more flour. (If dough looks more like a flat disk at this point instead of a sphere, it is okay. Don’t worry!) Cover with another kitchen towel and set aside to rise for about two hours. When dough is ready, it will be more than double in size and will not spring back much or at all when poked with a finger.
At least ½ hour before dough is ready (so after about 1 ½ hours of rising), heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 4 qt. heavy covered, oven safe pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex, or ceramic) in oven as it heats including the cover. (If you don’t have a 4 qt. pot, 5 qt. or 3 qt. should also work; I used a 5 qt. pot). When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side now up. Shake pot once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Dough may not stay in a sphere at this point either and look very messy, but when it bakes, it will rise beautifully!
Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 10-30 minutes (depending on how quickly your oven bakes) until loaf is browned. If you have a kitchen thermometer, the bread should register 205-210 degrees. Remove from pot and cool on a rack.
Adapted from Jim Lahley’s No-Knead Bread