I make bread every Sunday. Not fancy bread, but amazing bread. I’m not bragging (because the recipe is sooo simple) but it turns out perfectly every time. I know just about everyone and their mother has blogged about Mark Bittman’s No-Knead Bread, but it really is fantastic. I’ve recently had a few people ask me about what I do to make it. Its dead simple. The night before the day you want bread (so let’s say Saturday night, before bed time) in a large bowl mix: 3 cups bread flour (I like King Arthur), 1 and 1/4 teaspoons of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of SAF instant yeast (not packet from the grocery store yeast) and 13 oz warm water. Mix it loosely. Mine is a crumbly, sticky, hardly-mixed mess. Seriously. I didn’t think to take a picture of this last night, maybe I’ll come back in and add one next week to illustrate my point. Cover with cling film and go to bed.
The next morning preheat your oven and your baking pot (5-6 qt. enamel dutch oven) (don’t use a good one, I bought this one for 25$ at Marshall’s) at 450 degrees for an hour or so.
While the oven and pot are preheating, check your dough. It should be doubled in size at least and very, very bubbly and wet. Sprinkle liberally with flour and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Now fold the dough in half and in half again. Keep flouring if its still too wet. I actually use a lot of flour during this step, probably almost a quarter cup, so don’t be shy. Now I usually shape it roughly into a ball, but you don’t even have to do that. Cover it with a towel and leave it alone until our pot/oven is fully heated. After the pot/oven is heated, your dough should look a little like this:
Then plop that dough into your screaming hot pot. It will look ugly (see below), but don’t worry!
Fugly, Right? I know! But it won’t matter. Because you’ll but the lid on it and bake it for 25-30 minutes. And you know what? Then it will look like this:
WHAT THE WHAT? That almost looks like perfect bread! It really is magic. OK, now for the finishing touch. Take the lid off and put it back in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Then you get this:
The loaf should just pop right out of the pot. I think the first loaf or two I made might have been a touch sticky, but after that it was smooth sailing. I also rarely wash the pot. I just wipe it out. It “seasons” the pot and ensures that future loaves don’t stick. And yes, I keep this one as a dedicated bread baking pot. Silly, I know, but I do make 1 or 2 loaves each week, so for us, it makes sense.
And that’s it. Its absolutely delicious, better than any bread you can buy in a grocery store and it isn’t full of chemicals and dough conditioners or high fructose corn syrup or even sugar. Its lovely toasted and it elevates fried eggs to an amazing week-day dinner (especially with a light salad). And not for nothing, there is nothing that makes one feel more accomplished than being able to make something like fantastic bread. At least for me. Now, go forth and bake bread!