I have tried this bread before, back in 2009 when I first started baking. It turned out terrible! I can't remember the specifics now but it was bad enough to make me think that this is not the bread/method for me. I'm sure I did something wrong. Yes you may laugh here. This is supposed to be the easiest bread and I mess it up. I do have a tendency to mess up easy things.
But I didn't have enough knowledge to know what it was and at the time I was more concerned about finding a recipe that works for me. I want a good bread that I could make every week so we don't have to buy bread from the store anymore. A bread baking friend once told me that homemade bread is so good and so much better than store bought. I always wonder about this and secretly jealous. The bread that I made does not taste as good as the store-bought.I am talking about hearth type breads, bread that has only a handful of ingredients: flour, salt, yeast, water.
Over the years, I have tried many bread recipes. Some of them turned out, some didn't. Often I got different results from one week to another on the same recipe. They are usually edible, but it was still not good enough for me. End of last year I tried Peter Reinhart's Ciabatta. The first time I tried it, it turned out pretty good. I made it again the week after and it was better. And then I borrowed My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method by Jim Lahey from the library. I remembered the failed No-Knead bread from 2009 and wondered if I should try it again. Jim's book had step by step pictures of this bread so I thought why not.
And I am so glad I tried this again. This is probably the best looking bread I've made. It tastes as good as it looks. And it is BETTER than store-bought! It is a big hit in the house, I have made this several times now.
According to the book, this is the basic No-Knead bread recipe and is the basis for all the other recipes.
Yield: one 1 1/2-pound loaf
3 cups (400 grams) bread flour
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1/14 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) cool water
cornmeal or wheat bran for dusting, as needed
First combine the flour, salt, yeast, and water.
Here is what it looks after mixing.
Then cover the bowl and let it ferment at room temperature. I cover mine with a towel and store it in the microwave so it's away from draft.
Here is what it looks like the next morning, after 12 hours of fermentation.
Next, dump it onto a floured surface.
Fold it like a letter.
Then move to a lint-free cloth. I used a cloth napkin and dust it with cornmeal.
Dust the top of the dough with corn meal as well.
Loosely cover with the cloth. Set it aside in a draft-free spot for a couple of hours until it doubled in volume.
After 2 hours, here is what it looks like.
45 minutes before the 2 hour mark, place a 5 qt cast iron pot in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees. Remove the preheated pot from the oven. Carefully and use a good pot holders as it is very hot. Remove the lid, then carefully invert the dough from the towel into the pot.
I still need to practice the art of inverting the dough into the pan well. The dough is not perfectly inverted as you see in the photo below. If you have 5 minutes, watch the youtube video of Mark Bittman and Jim Lahey demonstrating this bread and how perfectly round Jim's bread is.
Put the lid back on the pot and move it back into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for another 15- 20 minutes, until the bread is nicely brown.
Remove the bread from the oven and place it on a cooling rack. After about 5 seconds the bread will start singing.
Enjoy as is or with some jam or cheese (or and cheese if that is what you fancy haha). We love this as is on the day it's baked. After a couple of days if there is some left, we usually have it toasted with some homemade marmalade.
Recipe: My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Bread
Other No-Knead recipes from the web:
No-Knead Bread at the New York Times
No-Knead Bread at Steamy Kitchen
No-Knead Bread video of Mark Bittman and Jim Lahey