Well, I was so excited about the previous loaf of bread I made yesterday, that I got another one going for today. Its been rising since last night. This time, I followed the recipe more closely. I used all white flour. I activated the yeast before adding it to the dry ingredients, since I didn't have instant yeast. Yesterday, I just added 1/4 tsp active dry yeast to the dry ingredients. I couldn't find instant yeast at the store, so I just made do. It worked fine with the last loaf, even though I just added it with the dry stuff. Also, I used a bit less water this time. The original recipe calls for 1 5/8 cups water, but a lot of blogs on that recipe said to only use 1 1/2 cups. I have to say that the tiny amount of water made a big difference. My dough was easier to handle this time. It did stick to the dish cloth though, because I used flour on the bottom. Next time I will stick to corn meal cause it worked beautifully yesterday with the other loaf.
When I uncovered the Dutch oven and saw my beauty of a loaf, I got really excited. Once it cooked and browned for the last 15 minutes, I finally got to remove it from the oven. I was so surprised by how well it turned out! Even better than my loaf from yesterday. This one rose over an inch higher, and the crust browned so nicely this time around. Waiting for it to cool down so I could finally cut into it was torture! I kept walking by and taking close looks at it and thinking to myself that I cant believe that I made that!!! Who would have ever thought that I could bake Artisan quality bread that looks like it came from a bakery in Paris? Just add it to my resume hahaha.
After finally cutting it up and tasting it a bunch of different ways, with butter, with jam, toasted....it was heavenly! My mom was here and we ate half the loaf, just testing it out. I'm not exaggerating when I say that this is the best loaf of bread Ive ever made. Its easy enough to make on any day. I cant wait to serve this up for company some night. Im going to make a No Knead Bread tag because I plan to experiment a lot with this recipe and make plenty more loaves in the future.
Here is my exact recipe I used this time around. Adapted from Jim Lahey's recipe.
No Knead Bread (why is it called this??? I prefer Dutch Oven bread)
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups warm water (115-120 degrees F)
cornmeal or flour for dusting
1. In a small bowl stir yeast into warmed water. Let it rest for 15 minutes to activate.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Add water and yeast to flour and salt. Stir until dough forms. Dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
3. 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.
4. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, 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.
5. 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.