No-Knead Bread

This is the easiest, quickest, most fail-safe bread recipe in the world. That’s not the reason to make it however. The reason to make it is, it’s totally delicious. The recipe comes from Jim  Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery in New York. It’s already got a cult following, mostly in the US, on YouTube and various foodie websites, and no wonder. We haven’t given it to a single person who hasn’t then passed it on. There are two things about it that you have to know if you are going to make it. One, you need to mix the ingredients together the night before you want to eat it (this takes all of five minutes). Two, you can’t cook it unless you have a good, heavy cooking pot with a proper lid. We use a 24 cm Le Creuset casserole dish which works very well. It isn’t the best bread in terms of keeping well, but it’s so good that we generally get through a whole loaf in one afternoon.

No-Knead Bread:

3 cups or 430g all purpose or bread flour
1/4 teaspoon or 1g yeast
1 1/4 teaspoon or 8g salt
1 1/2 cups or 12oz water

In a large bowl, mix the flour, yeast and salt. Add the water and stir, using either your hand shaped into a claw or a wooden spoon, until it is blended together. It will be shaggy and sticky. Cover the bowl with cling film and let it rest for at least 12 hours in a warm room.

When the dough is ready its surface will be dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour your work surface and tip the sticky dough out of the bowl onto it. Fold it over onto itself once or twice, then cover loosely with clingfilm and let it rest for about 15 minutes.

Then, using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface, gently and quickly shape it into a ball. Generously coat a tea-towel with flour (or use wheat bran or cornmeal) and put the dough, seam side down, on the towel. Sprinkle a bit more flour over the dough and cover it with a second tea towel. Then leave it and let it rise for about two hours. When it is ready, the dough will have doubled in size. Meanwhile, heat your oven to 230ºC/ 450ºF and put your pot, with its lid on, into the oven to get really hot.

When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven. Slide your hand under the tea towel and turn the dough over into the pot, seam side up. It may look like a mess, but that doesn’t matter. Shake the pot once or twice if the dough is unevenly distributed. It will all come good as it bakes. Make one or two quick, sharp slashes on the top of the dough with a very sharp knife or better still, a razor blade. Put the lid back on and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for another 15 to 30 minutes until the loaf is lovely and brown. Cool on a rack.

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