A perfect recipe for breadmaking newbies

Lahey Bread 1
I’ve been trying just about every no-knead and sourdough start recipe I can find for the last year, and I know this is one of the most famous, but it’s also really, really good. The appearance isn’t quite as impressive as some of the others (I usually don’t get good wings on the loaf, and it doesn’t sit up high), but the crumb is fantastic. It usually has a good amount of holes and a great chew to it–and never seems dry. It’s also, amazingly, just as fresh the second day as it is the first, especially when using a start. I love this recipe and would encourage anyone, especially new-comers to bread baking, to try this. There’s really no reason not to! Interesting to note: the recipe I’ve found online has a different ratio of water than the one from Jim Lahey’s book. I’m sticking to the one in his book here, but I do occasionally have to add more water to work in the arid climate I live in.

Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Crusty Bread (with option for a start)

  • 3 cups  flour
  • 1 1/3 cups water ( or up to 1 1/2 c.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon yeast OR 1/2 c. sourdough start
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • Nonstick spray

* special equipment – a 6-8 quart pot with lid, such as an enameled cast iron dutch oven (I have both a cloche and an old dutch oven without legs and they both work great, but do lend to different characteristics in the appearance.)

  1.  Mix all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Add water and incorporate by hand or with a wooden spoon or spatula for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Lightly coat the inside of another medium bowl with nonstick spray and place the dough in the bowl (I actually mix mine in a large food-grade bucket, then I just cover it with the lid).  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 12 hours at room temperature ( 65-72 ℉).
  2. Remove the dough from the bowl and fold once or twice.  Let the dough rest 15 minutes in the bowl or on the work surface.  Next, shape the dough into a ball.  Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; place the dough seam side down on the towel and dust with flour.  [Instead, I always shape it and then place it on a piece of parchment paper, which I have set in a small (8″) skillet. I then spray a piece of plastic wrap with nonstick spray and cover the loaf.] Cover the dough with a cotton towel and let rise 1-2 hours, until more than doubled in size.
  3. Place the dutch oven onto a middle or lower rack in the oven, and heat the oven to 450-500℉.  Once the dough has more than doubled in volume, remove the pot from the oven and place the dough inside, seam side up.  Cover with the lid and bake 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 15-30 minutes until the loaf is nicely browned. The bread slices the best if it sits an hour or so before serving it.Lahey Bread 2
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