I’ll be forever indebted to Mark Bittman, NY Times food editor, for bringing light to the world when he published an article about Jim Lahey from the Sullivan Street Bakery, and his “minimalist bread making technique.” I don’t love this bread just because it requires no kneading. I love it because of the hard crispy crust and the soft spongy crumb. It’s remarkably close to many European style brick oven round loaves. One loaf in particular that comes to mind is the Spanish hogaza. After I made the first loaf following Jim’s method I went straight out and bought his book My Bread.
I’ve been baking bread for a long time: muffins and quick breads, challah, black bread, rye, white sandwich, French bread, bagels, sour-dough breads, whole grain, and whole wheat …you get the idea. After discovering Jim’s method I was satisfied that I’d found the perfect bread. It’s easy to make and absolutely soul satisfying to eat.
Jim has a recipe in his book for whole wheat, but it only has a small amount of whole wheat in proportion to the white flour, so I created a modified version, making a larger loaf that calls for 100% whole wheat.
Time is an important factor for this type of bread. I’ve found that the longer it sits, the better the flavor and tenderness of the crumb. I used to let the bread sit 12 hours before letting it rest a second time, but now I let it sit 18 to 20 hours. (WARNING-the dough will be wet and difficult to handle. This is normal.) For example, if I start at 5:00 pm and it will be done by 3:15 in the afternoon. Watch the videos. You may never buy bread again! In this video Jim Lahey shows Mark Bittman how to make his no-knead bread. And see this video where I make the bread: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oQM_nzAD2k
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 15-20 hours
Yield: 2 pound loaf
A 5-quart Dutch oven (Le Creuset, cast iron, or ceramic Dutch oven)
Important Note – Remove the handle of your ceramic pot if it is not ceramic or cast iron, or the high temperature will melt it. Also, the oven may change the color of your Le Creuset pot. It happened to my brother’s.
4 cups whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour)
2 cups water (Edited 5/10/13. Use a liquid measuring cup. You may need to add a couple extra teaspoons of water as you mix the water in to the flour.)
2 teaspoons salt
½ plus 1/4 teaspoon yeast
1) Mix all the ingredients in a bowl just until they are thoroughly mixed. Cover the bowl with plastic and set the bowl aside for 12 to 18 hours.
2) After the first rising, lightly flour the counter top and use a spatula to remove the dough from the bowl and put it on to the counter top. Fold the dough over on itself from left to right, turn the dough 90° and fold it again.
Lightly shape and dough into a ball and place it on a well-floured tea towel. Fold the towel flaps over the dough to cover, and let it rise for an hour and a half.
3) Allow the dough to continue rising on the counter top while you heat the oven. Turn the oven temperature on to 475° and put the covered pot on the middle rack in the oven. Let it the pot and the oven warm for 30 minutes.
4) Set out 2 cookie racks; one for the lid and one for the pot. Take the pot out of the oven and set it on the first cookie rack, remove the lid and place it on the second cookie rack. Slide the dough off the tea towel and into the pot. Cover the pot, place it back in the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes.
5) After the 30 minutes is up, remove the lid from the pot and place it on a cookie rack to cool. Set the timer for another 12 to 15 minutes and continue cooking the bread.
6) Take the pot out of the oven and use a large spatula to remove the bread. Let it cool on a cookie rack about 15 to 20 minutes before cutting into it. Waiting to taste it is the hardest step part, but if you cut into the bread too early it will not finish cooking properly.
*Note – Jim cooks the bread an extra 20 to 30 minutes, but I find that it gets too burned. The trick will be baking the right amount of additional time so the crust stays hard and crispy without burning the bottom and top of the bread too much.
Have fun with this bread and then experiment with different flavors or additions to the dough.
The following are sites where people have done Jim’s recipe or a variation of it:
http://kitchenconfidante.com/simple-sundays-no-knead-bread-recipe original recipe
http://www.breadtopia.com/sourdough-no-knead-method/ A sourdough bread
http://blogs.babble.com/family-kitchen/2012/02/22/no-knead-cheese-bread/ A bread with added cheese
http://www.macheesmo.com/2009/10/olive-bread/ A version with added olives
You may also be interest in this video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LaODcYSRXU Bread revisited with Mark Bittman with Jim Lahey. Mark wants a faster no-knead bread.