This is your friendly reminder that no-knead bread is AWESOME. I love having this recipe tucked away in my brain to pull out in a pinch, like this week when I had mini-quiches on the menu again (this time with pureed kale mixed in with the eggs, poured over caramelized onions and gorgonzola!) and I didn't have anything to go on the side. We ran out of bread early in the week, and the evening before quiche night, I quickly whipped together a batch of dough and let it rest overnight on the counter. I had it in the oven by the following afternoon, and that evening we had fresh bread with our eggs. Somehow, we managed to restrain ourselves, and we still have half a loaf, waiting to be topped with poached eggs for breakfast tomorrow.
In case you've forgotten, the recipe is (from memory, snagged from the NY Times):
HELLO! READ THIS! You need a deep, oven-safe dish with a lid for this. The material isn't really crucial, so don't sob if you don't have a Le Creuset dutch oven. (I don't. Mom? Christmas? J/K MOM I LOVE YOU.) The lid keeps the steam in so that a nice crust can form while the dough bakes. I use an oven-safe stainless steel stock pot (you've seen it around here) but you can use a glass casserole dish with a lid, or a cast iron guy, or whatever you have that is oven safe.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp instant yeast (for this loaf, I used a full teaspoon of yeast so that it'd be ready by morning. You can play around with the amount of yeast if you have time constraints, but the longer you can let it rest, the better the loaf will be.)
1 1/4 tsp salt
about 1 1/2 cups of water
a pinch of cornmeal
Whisk together dry ingredients to combine evenly. Slowly add water, stirring gently, until dough forms. The dough should be sticky and shaggy, but not too wet. Place in a large, oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for 15-24 hours. The dough is ready when the surface is dotted with tiny bubbles. Dump dough onto a nicely floured surface and flip it over onto itself so it's kind of folded up. Let it rest for 15 minutes, then, as quickly as you can, attempt to form it into a ball and let it rest another 2 hours, covered with a cotton cloth. (terrycloth will stick.)
After an hour and a half of rest, pre-heat your oven to 450ºf with the covered dish inside, and let it go for about half an hour. By then, your dough should be ready (you can test it by poking a floured finger into it- it will leave a dent that takes a moment to spring back. the dough doesn't rise much, so don't freak out if it's still the same size when you go to bake it). Remove the dish from the oven, sprinkle the bottom with a little cornmeal, and then do your best to flop the dough into the pan without burning yourself. (Good luck, I almost always burn myself when I bake bread. What is wrong with me?!) Put the lid back on, put it in the oven, and bake for 20 minutes with the lid on, and then another 20 with the lid off.
I've done all kinds of experimenting with this recipe and it really appeals to my type of cooking- it's an adaptable recipe that you can sort of play with and it's hard to screw it up too bad. It requires a great deal of patience but not much skill, and the payoff is a gorgeous loaf of bread. My favorite part is listening to the bread crackle as it cools on my cutting board. And the smell, duh.