Bread making is intimidating. It shouldn’t be, but it is. While there are very few ingredients, there seems to be a lot of time and opportunity for things to go wrong. That was my barrier to the bread game, despite seeing so many others on social media becoming at home bread makers during the pandemic. It was time to be my own cheerleader and take the leap.
I dipped my toe with a no knead focaccia when we had family visiting for the Easter holiday. It went great and while it may not have been the best focaccia in the history of focaccia, there’s not denying that warm bread slathered in garlic butter could ever be wrong.
That gave me the confidence to move forward with a real loaf of bread. It took me about 2 seconds to find one of the most popular recipes on NYT Cooking, Mark Bittman’s adaptation of Jim Lahey’s easy, no-knead dough. The recipe, read in conjunction with the very helpful comment section, is very simple. You have your 4 basic ingredients – bread flour, instant yeast, salt, and water. The biggest commitment will be your patience and a gentle hand.
- 430 grams all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 gram instant yeast
- 8 grams kosher salt
- Cornmeal or wheat bran, as needed
- In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 1/2 cups/345 grams 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.
- 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.
- 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 long piece of parchment paper with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on the parchment paper and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another piece or parchment paper or loosely fold over the parchment paper, if long enough 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.
- 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. Remove the top piece of parchment paper and grab the lower piece, lowering the paper and the dough into the pot. 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.