Nov 15, 2009

No-Knead Artisan Bread

(photos courtesy of Aaron Thompson)

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes! Delicious, crusty European-style bread that you can make at home! New York Times food editor Amanda Hesser calls it "easily the most famous recipe ever to run in the Times." It comes from Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City and baker Jim Lahey. What I love about this recipe, besides the end result, is that it is simple to make. The dough takes quite a bit of time to rise, so it's not something you can do at the last minute. Better to start the day before. However, very little active time is required on your part. Besides having enough time, the only other thing you need is the right type of pan to bake the bread in. The pan needs to be the appropriate size (a 5- to 7-quart pot), be able to withstand high temperatures, and have a lid. I have successfully used enamel-coated cast iron, a Dutch oven, and Pyrex pans. Ceramic can also work, provided it meets the above requirements.

For more info, read this article or watch this video that depicts the process. There are a few slight variations between what you see in the video and what is described in this recipe, but I've adapted the recipe to what works best for me.

4 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid rising yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups water at about 70 degrees

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast, and salt. Add 2 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 14 hours, and preferably about 18 or more, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. 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. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, fold it over on itself once or twice, then gently and quickly shape dough into a ball, seam-side down. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes. Cover the dough with the plastic wrap and let it rise for 2 additional hours.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 5- to 7-quart heavy covered pot in the oven while it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven and take off the lid. Then gently lift the dough and set it in pot, seam side up. It may not look neat, but that is okay. 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 10 to 15 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One loaf.