For the most part, I consider myself a fairly confident and proficient cook. There are, however, a few things I simply cannot make. My rice cooker hides my inability to boil rice and the dough hook on my beloved Kitchen Aid mixer makes it look like I can whip up smooth yeast doughs when in reality, anything that requires kneading eludes me. For years I have wanted to make bread but my challenges with kneading made this impossible.
Until now! Adapted from the recipe of two friends who are kitchen whizzes (thanks P & B) is a 4-ingredient artisan loaf recipe that does not require kneading. And it’s fantastic. Based on a recipe from the legendary Sullivan Bakery in New York, this bread is as easy as it is delicious.
Amazing No-Knead Bread
Yield: 1 loaf
3 cups of white flour (plus a tablespoon or two for dusting) OR 1 1/2 cups each white and whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cups water
In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Stir dry ingredients with a fork to disperse the yeast well. Add water and stir until blended and the dough forms a rough, shaggy and sticky ball. Don’t be alarmed at its craggy appearance. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let rest 12-18 hours at room temperature. Resist the urge to pop it in a warm oven- just leave it alone on the counter.
After its super slow rise, the dough will be nearly doubled in size with a surface dotted with bubbles. Rub a little flour around the inside of the bowl to release the dough (it will be quite wet and sticky) and place it on a well floured work surface.
Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers, gently stretch and fold the dough over itself four times (from both sides, top and bottom), tucking the final fold in to create a smooth rounded ball. Add some more flour to your work surface and place the dough on it to rise for ~20 minutes while your oven heats.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put a heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) and lid in the oven as it heats. I find that a small round casserole dish works great. When the oven has come to temperature, wait 5 minutes then remove the casserole and spray with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
Immediately drop the dough ball into the hot casserole, seam side down. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed- it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 20 minutes, remove lid and bake another 25 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Remove from oven and transfer loaf to a rack to cool. Because the bread is fairly dense, it will still be warm and steamy inside after a hour of rest and I don’t recommend cutting it before then.
Slice and enjoy. It’s the perfect kind of crusty loaf to enjoy with a bowl of soup or a summer salad.