Last year, Mark Bittman wrote about a no-knead bread for his column in the New York Times. The recipe was easy, but it involved 18 hours of rising, which means if you want bread for dinner tonight, you should have start it last night at midnight. Not the most practical of recipes. I tried it once and the bread was good, but worth the planning.
Now, there a new no-knead recipe that only involves 3 hours of waiting.
I made it this past weekend and it was excellent. The recipe makes 4 loaves, which is a lot of bread, but you can refrigerate the extra for up to 2 weeks. I used 2 loaves to make pizza, and then I used the rest for rolls. The pizza was great, but the rolls were superb. They were hot, crusty and fluffy all at the same time. I really think the secret is having a pizza stone and cranking your oven as hot as it will go (more than 450, if it will do it)
Recipe: Simple Crusty Bread
Adapted from “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day,” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François (Thomas Dunne Books, 2007)
Time: About 45 minutes plus about 3 hours’ resting and rising
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough
1. In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).
2. Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put dough on pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.
3. Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.
4. Dust dough with flour, slash top with serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide onto stone. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely.
Yield: 4 loaves.
Variation: If not using stone, stretch rounded dough into oval and place in a greased, nonstick loaf pan. Let rest 40 minutes if fresh, an extra hour if refrigerated. Heat oven to 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Place pan on middle rack.