Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread


Sono senza parole, no words to describe my joy, elation, ecstasy about the fact that I can actually make bread. And not only did I make bread, but it was as good as the bread that I would buy at Renella in Trastevere. As you can see from all of my past posts, I have a serious fear of mixing water and flour, I don’t really understand yeast or anything about baking (I’m not even very good at baking chicken). 

flour and water  sticky mess

But after having seen pictures of the perfectly round loaves that friends took after trying Jim Lahey’s recipe in the New York Times, and the idea of not having to knead the dough for the bread until my arms hurt, I figured that I would try it. I am so happy that I did and have to thank Mark Bittman, once again, for sharing this recipe with all of his readers. He has changed my life, I honestly don’t think that I will ever buy bread again. Everyone needs to try this and I am here to spread the bread gospel. 

rising  taking shape  in the pot

The process of the bread involves a lot of waiting, but for all of you lucky people who work, you can get the dough started before going to bed, fold it and let it rise again when you get home from work the next day, and it will be browned in time for dinner. I don’t think that you can leave this to rise for too long, as Mr. Bittman says in his article, all this bread needs is time to work its magic. 

golden brown  i made that!

No-Knead Bread Adapted from Mark Bittman’s adaptation of Jim Lahey’s, Sullivan Street Bakery recipe

Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt (I would recommend trying only a teaspoon, it was very salty, though maybe that was why it was so good!)
  • Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed. (this is important, I used flour and had a lot of sticky dough leftover)

In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water (strange measurement, it is a smidgen more than 1 and a half cups), 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 (go with the higher number of hours), 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 (the dough is not easy to handle, like soft flesh, not easy to form into a ball, so if your ball is limp, don’t fret!). Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel 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. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. 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.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

sliced  sliced bread

Look at those bubbles!!!!

Tomorrow, Jim Lahey’s no-knead pizza dough, he is my new hero!

~ by italicious on March 27, 2009.

4 Responses to “Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread”

  1. I’m a newbie to breadmaking and looking up no-knead bread recipes. Ever since trying whole wheat no-knead bread recipe from the back of the King Arthur whole wheat flour bag, I want to try more!

    Yours sounds tasty, too. I want to make pizza bread now. 🙂 I’ll have to try this!

    Here’s the King Arthur recipe. It’s moist and delicious — and I’ll tell you, the King Arthur flour makes all the difference. I tried it with Hodgson Mills, but it is more coarse and didn’t have as nice a consistency when finished.

  2. Hey I impressed myself with it!!

  3. Ha, I just finished eating some of that bread toasted for breakfast! I made some as pizza dough and a couple smaller loaves last night. I won’t try making the pizza again unless I get the right equipment (peel, baking stone, etc….near disaster) but the bread is an awesome way to impress people!

  4. I’m not the only one talking about this today!

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