Recently I was in the library and I found Jim Lahey's book My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method. I highly recommend it.
Needless to say I have made numerous loaves of bread using his method. Most recently I placed some kalamata olives in the dough and made a deliciously fragrant loaf of olive bread.
Baking bread is perhaps, one of the most rewarding ways to spend time in the kitchen. It fills the kitchen with a wonderful aroma that lingers for several hours. It makes a house feel like a home where everything just feels right.
I love the sound the bread makes as it is cooling on the rack. The crust is crispy and the interior of the bread is chewy. There is nothing better than eating a slice of this bread slathered in butter! (Did I really just write that?) You have to know it is quite spectacular if I choose a bread recipe over chocolate!
If you haven't tried this recipe yet, then I encourage you to bake a loaf today. You won't regret it.
For the exact recipe then see the video or take a look at the book. Jim Lahey is a professional baker and he has made thousands of loaves. The following process is what I have learned as a non-professional baking the bread in my small kitchen at home.
Here is what I do to have a loaf ready in time for dinner:
The night before (around 8pm)
3 cups bread flour
1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Stir ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 1/3 cups warm water. Stir until the dough comes together. It will be sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise overnight.
The next day (about 2pm)
The dough is ready when the surface is dotted with bubbles. Carefully remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly dusted surface. Shape the dough into a ball. Use just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking. Place the ball of dough on a lightly floured dish towel or plate (I actually put the dough on a plate that has been coated with olive oil or lightly dusted with flour). Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for about 2 hours.
To bake this bread you need a pot with a lid. The pot needs to be able to withstand temperatures of 450 degrees. I use Corningware's French White 2 1/2 quart (2.3 L) pot with lid.
Place the empty pot and lid into the oven. Preheat to 450 degrees.
When the pot is hot and the oven has reached 450 degrees, carefully remove the pot and then pour in the dough. Place the lid on the pot and return it to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, remove the lid from the pot and continue to bake for 15-20 minutes. Carefully remove the bread from the pot and place on a cooling rack. Allow the bread to cool before slicing.
Any leftover bread can be stored in a plastic bag. (Note: the crust becomes soft when the bread is wrapped in plastic).