Unless you read the comments on my posts, you probably missed the recipe my brother-in-law Mark shared a few weeks ago for Lemon Rosemary Bread. This was my first attempt at no-knead bread, and I am a convert to the process.
The process is slow, but the work is minimal and easy. It's akin to baking beans from scratch; if you rinse and soak the beans the night before, all you have to do the next day is boil and simmer. Time does the work for you.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 3/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp. chopped lemon zest
Cornmeal as needed
In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt, rosemary and zest. Add 1 5/8 cups water and stir until blended; the dough will be shaggy and very sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at warm room temperature (about 70°F) until the surface is dotted with bubbles, 12 to 18 hours.
Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle the dough with a little flour and fold the dough over onto itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or your fingers, gently and quickly shape the dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel, preferably a flour sack towel (not terry cloth), with cornmeal. Put the dough, seam side down, on the towel and dust with more flour or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise until the dough is more than double in size and does not readily spring back when poked with a finger, about 2 hours.
At least 30 minutes before the dough is ready, put a 2 3/4-quart cast-iron pot in the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F. Carefully remove the pot from the oven. Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over, seam side up, into the pot; it may look like a mess, but that is OK. Shake the pan once or twice if the dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.
Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the loaf is browned, 15 to 30 minutes more. Transfer the pot to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Using oven mitts, turn the pot on its side and gently turn the bread; it will release easily.
Makes one 1 1/2-lb. loaf.
Adapted from Sullivan Street Bakery (New York City) and Mark Bittman, "The Secret of Great Bread: Let Time Do the Work," The New York Times, Nov. 8, 2006.
Omit the lemon and rosemary (if you dare), and you will have this bread. Read this article for a good explanation of why no knead bread needs no kneading. I will definitely make this bread again and again, and maybe even experiment with different flavors and seasonings. I believe a loaf of cracked pepper and asiago bread is in our future. Thank you Mark for the recipe!