I tried my hand last year at making homemade bread, and in my first attempts, was quite impressed with myself. But then I realized the bread I had made was not the famous no-knead bread, and while it was wonderful, and easy, in many ways, I wanted to try my hand at the famous.
A crusty outer shell with big pockets inside of the bread are the hallmarks of the no-knead bread. I’m happy to say I achieved it. Thanks to my new Martha Stewart enamel clad cast iron oval 8 quart dutch oven. Say that three times fast. Best part? Got it 60% off at the Macy’s day-after-Christmas sale. Bada boom!
So here’s the thing. I started this bread the night before. Super easy. Mix it up and let it sit. Not in a cold drafty place, but in a place where warmth can coax goodness into it. I opted for the under the cabinet lights. Thank you very much kitchen remodel. Little did I know that the under cabinet lights would eventually serve to rise bread for me.
Yields one 1 1/2 pound loaf
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.
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 OK. 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.