If you've always wanted to try your hand at homemade bread but have been intimidated by the process, this is the recipe for you! It really is the perfect beginner recipe for homemade bread. All you have to do is combine flour, yeast, salt and water in a bowl and then let it rest for about 4 and a half hours. You transfer the dough to a heavy pot that's been preheated in a hot oven and bake it for 45-60 minutes. That's it! You'll have a warm, rustic loaf of homemade bread with a crisp exterior crust and a soft, chewy interior.
This speedy no-knead bread is actually an adaptation of a recipe for no-knead bread from Jim Leahy that appeared in the NY Times a few years ago. That recipe is very similar to this one so it's another great option for first-time bread makers. The main difference is that the original recipe calls for 14 to 20 hours of rest time for the dough. This speedy adaption uses extra yeast to decrease the rest time significantly. I've never tried the original recipe and I didn't plan far enough ahead this time to give it a shot but I've added it to my to-do list.
Speedy No-Knead Bread
from Mark Bittman (as seen in the NY Times)
3 cups bread flour
1 packet (1/4 oz, 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups water
Combine flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Here's what my dough looked like at this stage - it was definitely shaggy!
Let dough rest about 4 hours at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees. This is the shot of my dough after the 4 hour rest:
Lightly oil a work surface and place dough on it; fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes more.
At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 F. Put a 6-to-8-quart heavy covered pot (I used my Dutch oven) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under dough and put it into pot, seam side up. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.
Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.