BACK IN 2006, JIM LAHEY took the food world by storm when his recipe for no-knead bread appeared in The New York Times. After making his bread myself this week (5 times!), I can see what the fuss was about. For here is an artisan loaf par excellence. The crust crackles when you bite into it. Divine too is the bread’s moist, chewey interior. It’s the bread you want for sopping up olive oil, or for topping with hummus or tapenade.
To achieve the ideal crust, you’ll need to bake the bread in an enameled, heavy-bottomed, 5-7 quart pot with a lid, just as Lahey recommends. I baked mine in the 7-quart Le Crueset dutch oven pictured above.
Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread
Adapted from a recipe published in The New York Times
Ingredients for one, 1 1/2 lb boule
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp rapid-rise yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 5/8 cups water
Cornmeal, wheat bran, or more flour for dusting
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast, and salt. Add water, and stir with a wooden spoon until the dry ingredients are moistened. Then cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside for 18 hours.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles, as above. Pour the dough onto a lightly floured board. Dust the top of the dough with extra flour, and dust your fingers, too. Then knead the dough 4 times, by patting it out and then folding it into thirds, as if you were folding a letter. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for 15 minutes.
3. Liberally dust a cotton kitchen towel with cornmeal, wheat bran, or flour. Form the dough into ball, and place it, seam-side down, on the towel; dust the top of the dough, and cover it with another cotton towel. Let rise for 2 hours.
4. Turn the oven to 450F, set the covered pot on the center rack, and let it preheat for 30 minutes. Remove the pot from the oven, place your hand under the towel, and flip the dough into the pot, its seam now facing up. If the dough sticks to the towel, don’t worry. Just scrape it off as best you can. Shake the pot to help center the dough. Bake in the covered pot for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 15 minutes or slightly longer, until the crust is perfectly browned. Cool on a wire rack.
Does this bread sound appealing to you? Let me know, in comments section below.
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