"The Bread" and How to Make it

Jim Lahey from his website Sullivan Street Bakery
About 2 years ago I saw a reference to an article by Mark Bittman  about No-Knead bread in the New York Times.  Well, as I loved to bake bread, I checked it out.  The recipe seemed almost too good to be true: easy, fast, no kneading and inexpensive.  I was skeptical but tried it.  The results were astounding, the bread had a crunch similar to french bread and the interior was moist, chewy, spongy and light.  Simply the best bread I had ever made.  Although, it took a day to make the bread, the hands on time was about 5 or 6 minutes.  At least, 3 or 4 times a week I have been making this bread and often every day for weeks at a stretch.  You can find Jim's original recipe here.
It's not often that someone can introduce a dramatic change in your life.  Jim Lahey has certainly changed mine and my families in a wonderful tasting and fresh smelling way.  I have shared this recipe with friends and relatives, some have taken to making "the bread" (as we call it) regularly.  This recipe is very forgiving, about times and quantities.  Jim's No Knead bread also is very adaptable to experimentation.  You can add nuts, seeds, grains and herbs quite easily.  "The Bread" makes a spectacular rosemary bread with just a t or T of rosemary.   Leftovers make a wonderful french toast (thank you Jay).  Mostly, we like it as "plain" bread.  Unlike, most bread recipes this one calls for no sugar, sweetener or oil.  It also uses very little yeast.  Even making "the bread" almost every day a small jar of yeast lasts several months.  Hope you enjoy the recipe.   My friend Jay also used the recipe to make cinnamon nut rolls with good results.   

No-Knead Bread

3 cups unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water room temperature
1/4 teaspoon quick rise yeast

Mix the ingredients in a small bowl just till well mixed.  Cover with saran wrap and let sit 18-24 hours.  The bread can still be made after two days rising also.   The next day, dust your counter with about 1/4- 1/3 cup of flour and using a spatula pour the dough onto the floured counter.  Let the dough sit for about 10 minutes.  Then turn and fold the bread 4 or 5 times.  Dust an old pillowcase, or linen towel, (Do not use terrycloth), with about 1/3 to 1/4 cup of  flour, place the dough and any remaining flour from the counter on the pillowcase and roll it up into a ball.  Let the dough rise for 2 hours.  Preheat your oven to 425, and dust the bottom of an 8 quart cast iron dutch oven with flour, wheat germ, cornmeal, oats, just about any grain works.  Gently unfold the pillowcase with the dough and then gently drop/roll/flip the dough into the pan.  Give the pan a shake to center the dough.  Cover and cook for 30 minutes with lid on, remove lid and cook for 20-30 minutes with lid off.  Remove bread from pan and place on rack to cool.  "The bread" slices much easier if you wait till it cools but who can resist warm fresh bread?
Here is what the dough looks like after its been mixed.  Total time about 3 minutes.
Here is the dough after it has risen for a day.
the dough after it is scraped onto the
after sitting for 10 minutes it's folded 4 or 5 times
 Here is the dough ready to be rolled up into the floured towel
which in this case is an old pillowcase

The dough wrapped in a floured towel and ready to rise for 2 hours
The same dough after rising 2 hours in the towel, it feels nice and firm now.
The dough after its been unwrapped and ready to roll/flip into the pan
Dough in the pot and ready for baking
One hour later a beautiful loaf of fresh bread appears in your pot.

You can spread: poppy seeds, sesame seeds, cornmeal, oats whatever you like on the towel, both to prevent the dough sticking to the towel and to provide a nice seeded top to your bread.   Some people have had a problem with the dough sticking to the towel.  This has happened to me occasionally but its generally not a problem.  When it does stick, I grab a dull knife or scraper and just gently loosen the bread from the towel or case.  Sometimes, you leave a little dough on the towel, but that comes off easily once the dough dries.  I have a friend who places the dough between two layers of saran wrap, another that rolls it up in parchment paper.  I've read about a third option that just puts a towel on top.   
Some people preheat the pot in the oven for up to 30 minutes before placing the bread in the pot.  This preheating gives the bread a super extra crunchy exterior similar to baguettes. After getting burned several times pouring the bread into the pan, I never preheat the pan anymore.  Great care must be exercised around the hot pan and lid.  I had several unpleasant burns as a result of carelessness on my part.

Jim Lahey's recipe is fast easy and almost foolproof.  The bread simply smells wonderful while baking, and the aroma will welcome family and visitors to your home.  By giving the yeast a day to work the dough, you can save your energy for enjoying the bread.  Enjoy!!
Here's a link to another Mark Bittman article from the NYT covering Jim Lahey's method with pictures.