Good things come to those who wait. And by "good things" I mean a loaf of bread so delicious, you may find yourself daydreaming about it long after it's been gobbled up. The key ingredients for bread-making are patience, precision, a little bit of luck, and, in most cases, a strong arm for working the dough. But if that last bit turns you off, then you've come to the right place.
Jim Lahey's recipe for no-knead bread has made the rounds in the food blogging world, but I'd been somewhat intimidated by it. In an effort to try new things and satisfy a crazy craving for homemade bread, I set about tackling it. For 18-plus hours, I nervously waited for my dough to rise and bubble, convinced the whole time that I would screw it up.
The next day, to my surprise, I woke up to a bowl of sticky, bubbly dough that perfectly fit the description in the recipe. How thrilling! The next few steps required a delicate touch, a lot of flour, and more waiting.
For more, plus this famous bread recipe, keep reading.
This dough is sticky and wet. Don't be alarmed when it sticks to your cutting board or to your fingers; just use as much flour as you need to handle it. At this point, the recipe says to form the bread into a ball, which I found to be a challenge. My dough was so soft and wet that it kind of just flattened out every time I tried to shape it. Don't worry too much about this as it will reshape when you drop it into the pot.
You know you're in the clear and you've made something truly magnificent when your entire home begins to smell like fresh, warm, yeasty bread. But just wait, because it gets better. The most thrilling moment arrives when you remove the bread from the oven and it begins to crackle as it cools. You can actually hear the deliciousness of this loaf of homemade bread settling in.
Resist the urge to cut into the loaf right away, as it definitely needs a little resting time. I suggest eating this bread as is, because it's truly too delicious to cover with overpowering spreads. A little bit of butter is all you need for a wonderful experience. The crusty exterior complements the chewy, moist center, riddled so perfectly with holes that you'll wonder why you didn't make this sooner.
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting Makes one 1 1/2 pound loaf.
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran, as needed
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
Makes one 1 1/2 pound loaf.