Recently while visiting a new kitchen store, Cook Culture, I saw the most amazing loaf of bread sitting on their kitchen counter in their brand new demo centre. It was a large, oval shaped loaf with great big holes in the crumb and a super crust. Did some great new bakery I’ve not come across bake this? Was it an artisan baker coming out of the woods to showcase and sell his loaves on the side of the road? There’s no way that this was a home baked loaf…or was it? Well it turns out it’s a recipe from Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery in New York. And yes, it’s meant for the home baker. There are no gimmicks and all you need to have on hand is either a 3-5 qt cast iron pot with lid or pyrex dish. This is really the simplest and most impressive at-home bread recipe I’ve ever come across with success on the first try.
I have modified it slightly by resting the dough an additional 8 hours in the fridge to develop more flavours. This produced a lighter, crustier loaf with an even better interior crumb texture. I’m hooked. This is a fantastic dinner bread, great as toast and lasts for days.
Recipe: No-Knead Bread
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.
1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees. Put in fridge for an additional 8 hours.
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 and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. 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 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.