Today I’m going to share with you the recipe that turned me into a regular homemade bread baker. You may have heard of it before. It’s Jim Lahey’s magical No-Knead bread and it became an internet sensation some years back. Over the years, I’ve introduced many people to this bread and most of them have exclaimed after the first bite that it’s the best bread they’ve ever eaten. Yes, that’s how good this bread is.
In this recipe, only a tiny amount of yeast is used and the dough is allowed to rest and ferment for 12 to 24 hours. The bread is baked in a piping hot lidded Dutch Oven to mimic the kind of heat produced in a traditional wood-fired oven. The result is a chewy and moist European-style bread with a very crispy crust. You can use all white flour, or substitute a third of the flour for any whole grain flour of your choice (rye, spelt, whole wheat, etc…)
Once you’ve mastered the basic no-knead technique, the fun really begins because you can get creative. There are many delightful variations on this bread and if you want to know more, I recommend getting your hands on Jim Lahey’s book My Bread which shows the many ways you can create the most exquisite breads using his method. Last year, I created a special Easter No-Knead Bread with candied lemon peel, walnuts, and currants that got gobbled in seconds.
My all-time favorite is adding rosemary and caramelized onions or whole walnuts and organic dried apricots to the dough which creates divinely flavorful breads. The options are truly endless. Whichever way you end up making it, I’m quite sure this bread is going to change your life! It changed mine. Enjoy!!
- 3 cups flour + a little extra for dusting (I usually use 2 cups white unbleached flour and 1 cup of spelt or whole wheat)
- 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1 Tbsp cornmeal or semolina flour
- In a large mixing bowl, roughly mix all the ingredients together. The dough will be slightly wetter and stickier than regular bread dough. Cover the bowl with a lid or with plastic wrap and let it sit between 12 to 24 hours. (I find the results are best between 18 to 24 hours, the warmer your kitchen the faster the dough is ready). Your will know your dough is ready when it looks bubbly on top.
- Pick up the dough and roughly fold it over onto itself a few times. Put it back in the bowl. Cover and let sit for another 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, lightly coat a work surface with flour and quickly shape the dough roughly into a ball. Generously coat a clean cotton kitchen towel with flour. Line a bowl with this towel, floured-side facing up. Place the ball of dough, seam side down, into the bowl and sprinkle the top with flour. Cover it with another towel and let is rise for 2 hours. The dough should double in size and it and when you poke it with your finger, it should not spring back quickly.
- Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 450 F for about 20 minutes before the bread is ready to go in, placing an empty lidded dutch oven or cast iron pot inside. After 20 minutes, it will be piping hot. Remove it from the oven and quickly lift the lid, sprinkling the semolina or cornmeal at the bottom to prevent the bread from sticking. Quickly and gently transfer your ball of dough in into the pot and swiftly put the cover back on. Don't worry if the ball doesn't keep its shape or looks messy when you place it into the pot, it will still turn out fine.
- Bake for 30 minutes at 450F. After 30 minutes, remove the lid. Continue baking for another 15 to 25 minutes at 450F. It is ready when the loaf is nicely browned on top. Very importantly, allow the bread to cool for an hour before slicing it (otherwise without the cooling period, the bread can sometimes be a little gummy). Enjoy!
Tips/TechniquesAdapted from Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread recipe
Yield: 1 loaf
Aube Giroux is a food writer and filmmaker who shares her love of cooking on her farm-to-table blog, Kitchen Vignettes.
Aube is a passionate organic gardener and home cook who likes to share the stories of how food gets to our dinner plates. Her work has been shown on television and at international film festivals. Her web series was nominated for a 2014 James Beard Award. In 2012, she was the recipient of Saveur Magazine’s Best Food Blog award in the video category.