This bread is so simple. I was attracted to the recipe because of the whole no kneading thing. (I truly hate kneading!)
Plan ahead because this does take some time start to finish, but the actual work you have to put in is minimal. What you end up with is a tough outer crust and light airy center, perfect accompaniment for soups. (Or cheeses, which incidentally makes a really great breakfast).
I made this when my family came over for dinner last week and everyone seemed to like it. The first loaf was quickly devoured and the second one started disappearing too. I’ll definitely make it again!
No-Knead Crusty Bread
Yield: 3-4 medium sized loaves
- 3 cups lukewarm water
- 6-1/2 to 7-1/2 cups flour*
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1-1/2 tablespoons instant yeast (or 1 tablespoon quick rise yeast)
*The flour/liquid ratio is important in this recipe. If you measure flour by sprinkling it into your measuring cup, then gently sweeping off the excess, use 7-1/2 cups. If you measure flour by dipping your cup into the canister, then sweeping off the excess, use 6-1/2 cups.
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir everything together to make a very sticky, rough dough.
Transfer to a large greased and floured bowl, at least 6 quarts in size. Flip the mound of dough around so that both sides are coated. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 hours.
After that, refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours or up to 7 days. (The longer you keep it in the fridge, the tangier it’ll get and it will ultimately taste like sourdough.) Over the course of the first day or so, it’ll rise, then fall. This is normal.
When you’re ready to bake, sprinkle the top of the dough with flour, grease your hands, and pull off about 1/4 to 1/3 of the dough, about the size of a large grapefruit. On a floured work surface, shape it into a ball, or a longer loaf.
Place the dough onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkling some flour over the top will help keep the dough moist as it rests before baking.
Let the dough rise for about 45 to 60 minutes. Preheat your oven to 450° F while the dough rests. Place a shallow pan on the lowest oven rack, and have 1 cup of hot water ready to go.
When you’re ready to bake, take a sharp knife and slash the bread 2 or 3 times, making a cut about 1/2″ deep. The bread may deflate a bit but it will pick back up in the hot oven.
Place the bread in the oven, and carefully pour the 1 cup hot water into the shallow pan on the rack beneath.
Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, until it becomes golden brown.
Recipe from King Arthur Flour.