Make delicious, homemade bread without all the kneading.
Heather Smith shares the easiest bread recipe you’ll ever make.
No-Knead Artisan Bread
3 cups (400 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons (8 grams) table salt
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) instant or other active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups (300 grams) cool water (55 to 65 degrees F)
cornmeal, or additional flour, for dusting
A 4 1/2- to 5 1/2-quart heavy pot
1. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and yeast. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough, usually takes about 30 seconds. Make sure it’s really sticky to the touch; if it’s not, mix in another tablespoon or two of water. I usually have to add just a bit more water.
2. Cover the bowl with a tea towel, or plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature (about 72 degrees F), out of direct sunlight, until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size. This will take a minimum of 12 hours and up to 18 hours. This slow rise—fermentation—is the key to flavor. So the longer the better.
3. After the 12-18 hours is complete, dust counter with flour. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough onto the board in one piece. When you begin to pull the dough away from the bowl, it will cling in long, thin strands (this is the developed gluten), and it will be quite loose and sticky—do not add more flour. Use lightly floured hands or a bowl scraper or spatula to lift the edges of the dough in toward the center. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round.
4. Place a sheet of parchment or a heavily floured flour sack towel (not terry cloth, which tends to stick and may leave lint in the dough), on your work surface and generously dust the cloth with cornmeal, or flour. Use your hands or a bowl scraper to gently lift the dough onto the towel, so it is seam side down. If the dough is tacky, dust the top lightly with cornmeal, or flour. Fold the ends of the towel loosely over the dough to cover it and place it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost doubled. If you gently poke it with your finger, making an indentation about 1/4 inch deep, it should hold the impression. If it doesn’t, let it rise for another 15 minutes.
5. Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F, with a rack in the lower third position, and place a covered 4 1/2–5 1/2 quart heavy pot in the center of the rack.
6. Using pot holders, carefully remove the pre-heated pot from the oven and uncover it. Unfold the tea towel, lightly dust the dough with flour, lift up the dough, either on the towel or in your hand, and quickly but gently invert it into the pot, seam side up. (Use caution—the pot will be very hot.) If you used parchment paper you can carefully lift the corners of the parchment and set directly into pot, carefully so you do not touch the pan. If parchment is pressed into dough too much it will bake that way leaving the indentation, so carefully try to pull away from sides. Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes.
7. Remove the lid and if baked on parchment, take pan out and carefully remove parchment. Your bread will slide right off, but this will allow it all to brown nicely. Place back in oven and bake until the bread is a deep chestnut color but not burnt, use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to carefully lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly. Don’t slice or tear into it until it has cooled, which usually takes at least an hour. Good luck, that’s the hardest part– waiting for the bread to be ready.
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