Sunday, February 5, 2012

This Bread is So Good it Can't Possibly be Almost Effortless to Make

You may have noticed I LOVE BREAD!  I love putting the ingredients together watching them transform into something incredibly beautiful and comforting. It fills the house with a smell that screams home. Because of this I am always looking and studying many different recipes and techniques.  I read about the chemistry of the bread and how different ingredients effect the taste and texture.  One thing I have come to realized is that there are more ways to make bread than I ever realized.  

I came across a recipe developed by a by Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery and knew I had to try it immediately.  I was amazed at how quickly it came together and went to bed anxious to bake the bread the next day.  I thought about it off and on throughout church (yes I am obsessed) and when I got home I quickly prepared it for baking.  When it came out of the oven Nathan (my sixteen year old son) wanted to cut it immediately but I was able to convince him to wait until it cooled.  When we finally cut into the bread it was crusty on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.  Usually I like to put a little butter (okay, sometimes more than a little) or jam on the fresh bread but this bread needs absolutely nothing.  It is one of the best breads I have ever tasted.  

With this recipe you will never want or need to buy an "artisan" loaf from the bakery again.  It literally comes together with less than ten minutes of active work.  The hardest part about making this bread is waiting to cut it.

I decided to see if it could be made with the most basic equipment.  Items found in almost any kitchen.  I used an old medium sized mixing bowl, a wooden spoon (any study spoon will do) and a metal mixing bowl to bake it is.  Yes, a mixing bowl.  As Jim Lahey says, even a six year old can do this.  

I plan on trying to make this with all whole wheat flour next.  I will let you know how it goes.  Until then, do yourself a favor, make this bread!  You will love every bite.

No Knead Rustic Bread

3 cups all purpose flour (plus about 1 cup more for sprinkling)
2-1/2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1-1/2 cups water

Equipment needed:
medium mixing bowl
large spoon or wooden spoon
two cotton towels (NOT terry cloth) or one cotton towel and a piece of parchment paper
5-6  quart dutch oven / large metal mixing bowl with foil/ 5-6 quart stainless steel pot with oven safe lid
cooling rack
In a medium mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients.  Add the water and stir together with a large spoon (I used a wooden spoon), stir about a minute until completely combined.  

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and leave it on the counter, at room temperature for 12 - 24 hours.  The dough will bubble and grow, this is normal, it is referred to as ‘fermenting.’  

Generously flour your counter and pour the fermented dough onto the flour.  Stretch and fold the dough about 4 times, once on each side of the dough.  The dough will be very sticky.  The best way to insure you don’t have the dough completely stuck to you is to dampen your hands before each stretch and fold.  I keep a small bowl of water within arms reach and dip my fingers in the water, rub it a little between my fingers and stretch then fold, then dip my fingers again and continue stretching and folding.  After you have folded the dough 4 times allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes.  

Generously flour a cotton kitchen towel or a piece of parchment paper.  Do no use a terry cloth towel, the threads will get stuck to the dough.  Form the dough into a ball, it will look like a deflated, that is fine.

Sprinkle the dough with flour and cover with another cotton towel.  Allow to rise until double, about 2 hours. 

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees with the dutch oven and lid (or metal mixing bowl or stainless steel pot) in the oven so it also heats up.  When the oven and dutch oven reach 450 degrees remove the dutch oven from the oven.  Uncover the dough and brush off some of the flour from the bottom towel (NOT from the top of the dough) and flip the dough into the dutch oven.  You want to do this as quickly as possible so the dutch oven does not cool off.  

Put the cover on the dutch oven. If you are using a metal mixing bowl cover it,as tightly as possible, with a couple layers of foil.  Be careful the pot/bowl with be VERY hot, use oven mitts to cover the bowl with foil or when lifting the lid.  Place the pot or bowl in the oven.  Bake for 30 minutes.  

Removed lid or foil and return pot/bowl to the oven.  

Turn the oven up to 500 degrees and bake 15 minutes (this includes the time it takes for the oven to heat from 450 degrees to 500 degrees).

Removed from oven and turn bread out of the pot or bowl onto a cooling rack immediately.  Cool completely before cutting.

Adapted from Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery


  1. I LOVE making my own bread! This looks like a great one to try! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you for visiting. I try to made most of the bread my family eats and this is one of the best I have tried. I hope you enjoy it.