No-Knead Bread


This is the real thing—crusty, delicious yeast bread. It’s ideal for beginners.
TIME 24 hours, mostly unattended
MAKES 1 large loaf (4 to 8 servings)
4 cups all-purpose or bread flour, or more as needed
½ teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal as needed for dusting


Method
1 Combine the 4 cups flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Add 2 cups tap water (it should be about 70°F). Stir to combine; you’ll have a shaggy, sticky dough (add 1 or 2 tablespoons tap water if it seems dry). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature until its surface is dotted with bubbles, about 18 hours (a couple hours less if your kitchen is warmer; more if your kitchen is cooler).

2 Spread about ¼ cup flour on a clean work surface, turn the dough out onto the flour, and fold it once or twice. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes.

3 Gently and quickly shape the dough with your hands into a round mass, adding just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking. Sprinkle a clean cotton (not terry cloth) towel with 2 tablespoons cornmeal, put the dough seam side down on the towel, and dust the top with 1 tablespoon more cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rest until the dough is more than doubled in size and doesn’t spring back readily when poked with your finger, about 2 hours (longer if the room is cool).

4 When the dough is ready, heat the oven to 450°F and put a large covered ovenproof pot in the oven.

5 When the pot is scorching hot, carefully take it from the oven and remove the cover. Uncover the dough, slide your hand under the bottom towel, and use it to turn the dough over into the pot, seam side up. Cover the pot with the lid and bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake until the loaf is fully browned and crackled on top, 20 to 30 minutes. Carefully remove the bread from the pot with a spatula or tongs and cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before cutting into thick slices.

Variations
  • Whole Wheat No-Knead Bread: Use whole wheat flour for up to 2 cups of the all- purpose flour. You won’t get quite as much rise, and the bread will be slightly denser and full flavored.

Tips
  • This recipe was developed by New York baker Jim Lahey. I’ve streamlined the process a bit and highlighted the universal lessons the recipe teaches.
  • The first few times you bake with yeast, use a thermometer to make sure you get the water temperature close to 70°F so the yeast will perform properly.
  • If the dough starts to smell burned before the cooking time is over, lower the oven temperature to 425°F.
  • To tell whether bread is done for sure, use a quick-read thermometer. It’s done at 210°F.

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