No-knead bread has been around for years. It was developed by Jim Lahey at New York City’s Sullivan Street Bakery, Mark Bittman wrote about it in The New York Times, and everyone and their grandmas jumped onto the no-knead bandwagon. Everyone, except for me. Ever the skeptic – how could a good loaf of bread be made without kneading, without proofing the yeast, and finally – what would James Beard have to say on the matter?
Two weeks ago, I finally jumped off of the bridge with the rest of the kids and made a loaf. Four ingredients – flour, salt, yeast, and water, it’s ridiculously easy to make, and the end product is a beauty! I liked the texture and taste of the bread, but just to be sure, I made two more loaves for my Italian neighbors (they’re a tough crowd). I’m happy to report that my bread got the South Philly stamp of approval.
1. Put three cups of flour in a large bowl, add a 1/2 teaspoon of yeast and 1 3/4 teaspoons of kosher salt and mix it up. Pour in 1 1/2 cups of water, and stir. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it somewhere for 12 to 18 hours.
2. Preheat your oven to 450º. While you’re waiting for the oven to heat up, dump the dough out onto a heavily floured cotton kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and cover with plastic wrap. When the oven comes to temperature, place a 3 to 6 quart pot with a lid in the oven for 30 minutes. I used a cast iron Dutch oven, but I’ve read that you can use a Pyrex baking dish with a lid, Le Creuset, or any old baking dish with aluminum foil.
3. When the 30 minutes are up, remove the baking dish from oven. Flour your hands (the dough is sticky) and carefully place the dough in the pot. Cover the pot, and place in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove the bread from the pot using oven mitts or long tongs, and cool on a rack.
4. Gaze at it’s beauty, snap a few photos, then share it with someone you really like!