I make the Mark Bittman recipe for No-Knead bread at least once a week. We use it as our everyday sliced bread for sandwiches, toast — every dish where sliced bread is a component. The fresh, soft bread makes sandwiches so much better, and the lack of preservatives is much better for us.
The recipe is very easy, and forgiving — you can let the bread rise for as little as 8 hours or as much as 24 hours — the bread turns out just fine both ways. One major difference in my method versus the method described in the original recipe is the pan in which the bread is baked — I use a small glass loaf pan that enables a nice, standard sandwich shape, allowing the bread to be used in an everyday fashion, rather than the round that comes from the original recipe, which is great as a sliced dinner bread, but not so much for other uses.
I’ll begin with the recipe, then describe with pictures how I prepare this wonderful recipe.
Makes 1 small loaf.
1 1/2 cup wheat flour
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp yeast
1 5/8 cup water
Mix all dry ingredients together, then add the water. Mix until all dry bits are wet, and a sticky, tattered dough forms. Leave in the bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 8-24 hours.
Usually, I set this up in the morning, and let it sit all day, or conversely, set it up after dinner, then let it sit all night and bake it up the next day.
When the dough is ready (it will look smooth and bubbly, as shown in the picture), set up a large cutting board and dust it with flour or cornmeal (both work just fine, but cornmeal does leave a coating on the bread). Wet your hands; it will make working with the dough very easy.
Remove the plastic wrap — do not discard, you will need it for the next step — and dump the dough onto the cutting board, pulling the leftover bits with your wet hands. Pick up the back of the dough and pull it towards yourself, then turn it over once, coating with flour. Leave it on the board and re-cover with the plastic wrap. Let it sit for 15 minutes.
Flour (or dust with cornmeal) a pillowcase dish cloth (do not use terry, it will make a HUGE mess), and lay out flat on the counter. Wet your hands again, and remove the plastic wrap. Quickly work the dough into a ball (but if you can’t, not a big deal) and transfer it onto the floured cloth.
Cover with the fabric, and let it sit for 2 more hours. The bread will get bigger, and will be unsticky to the touch when it is ready.
After about an hour, heat the over to 450 degrees, and when it is ready, place the baking pan into it to preheat for 30 minutes.
Using oven mittens, carefully pull out the pan, and dump the dough into it (it will sizzle!). Spray a piece of aluminum foil with cooking spray, and carefully place on top. Bake for 18 minutes.
Pull out the bread, remove the foil, and bake for another 10 minutes. (I love oven timers!)
While the bread is baking, prepare a cooling rack (I put a towel under mine to catch any crumbs). When the bread is finished, carefully remove it from the oven, and dump it onto the rack for cooling. It will pop out usually, but if it sticks a little, run a dinner knife around the edges to loosen.
Let the bread cool for 30 minutes, then slice and enjoy!