I started making no-knead bread a month or two after the hysteria broke, and I've made three loaves so far. The first one tasted best, the second (pictured above) looked the best and the third was the least amount of hassle. If we go by birth order stereotypes, I can expect Loaf Number One to live with me until it is thirty-two. Loaf Number Two will vote to put me in a home the moment I accidentally call her by the dog's name, and Loaf Number Three will get the vacation home.
Oh, my little yeastie-beasties.
Peer Pressure in Loaf Form
Adapted from Jim Lahey and Mark Bittman
3 cups AP flour
1 1/2 to 3/4 cups tap water
1/3 + 1/8 teaspoon Active Dry Yeast (What is up, Fractions? Thanks for lowering your expectations of me!)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
20 hours before you'd like some bread:
In a large bowl, I use a wide Pyrex one, measure (dip and sweep method) and dump flour, yeast and salt. Add the first 1 1/2 cups of water, stirring to form a shaggy dough. I use more, and I find this gives me more holes without a damp crumb. So add that extra 1/4 cup if you like. Cover dough tightly with saran wrap and place in a warm, calm enviroment. I send mine to Promises Rehab. Or the microwave, or the oven (off) with the pilot light switched on.
17 hours before you'd like some bread:
Freak the fuck out and peel back the saran wrap. Dump in a little extra flour (3 tablespoons or so) and stir until combined. Re-cover, and allow to rest in peace.
17 hours after that:
Flour a sheet of parchment paper, really just cake it on, and pour the flabby dough with the aide of a spatula or your hand onto floured paper. Tuck sides until you form a tidy little ball, or a lazy, semi-rectangular slab. Dust with flour and cover with a towel or another piece of parchment. Rest for 1 to two hours.
30 minutes before the resting period is over, place your baking instrument into the oven and bake at 450 degrees for half an hour. I use a Chefmate enameled cast iron dutch oven, but others use le creuset, lodge, Pyrex bowls with a Pyrex pie dish for the "lid". I think Tupperware would be ideal, really. Or one of those plastic Thai Food storage containers. Great!
When 30 minutes is up, carefully remove pot and lid, and flop the dough inside. Cover and return to the oven as fast as you can. If not there already, up heat to 450 and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake for 10-30 minutes more, until loaf is golden brown.
Remove from oven, cool in pot for 10 minutes then carefully, carefully remove and allow to cool completely on a rack.
No one will be able to make you feel as good about the bread as the bread makes you feel about yourself. I've never won a political election, or performed on Star Search, or been invited on to Whitesnake's tour bus, but I can only imagine that the elation that follows those events is nearly on par with what I felt the first time I made this bread.