Homemade bread is a delicious yet elusive creature, and it impresses the hell out of people if you can make it yourself. Enter: No-Knead Bread. Not only is the recipe kneadless, but it only requires 3 ingredients (plus water). After scoping out this video of Jim Lahey from Sullivan Street Bakery busting out the easiest bread recipe I've ever seen (and the tag section for the bread on flickr), my lazy self was sold on the idea.
No Knead Bread by Jim Lahey (New York Times)
Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed. (I used flour)
1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees. (After reading many, many blog posts about this bread, I 1) only used 1 1/2 cups water and 2) let it sit for at least 18 hours. Both of these points helped the dough not be too runny when I needed (pun!) to form it into a semi-ball shape.)
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes. (Cover your hands in flour! This junk is STICKY!)
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger. (I just used flour to keep things easy, and I didn't want a gnarly hard crust. And a whole separate towel isn't needed, just fold the ends over the top of the dough.)
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. 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. (The only pot I had that could be put in the oven was the XL long guy, which made my loaf long and skinny. If you have a round pot, stick with that so the slices will be wider and can be used for sandwiches.)
Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.
Seriously, this bread could not be easier. If you are low on cash (aren't we all??), invest in a bag of flour and a couple packets of yeast and you'll be enjoying fresh bread for months for only a few bucks. Goes great with honey, olive oil & balsamic vinegar, dipped in soup, sammies... I already have another pile of dough rising right now. Enjoy!