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Guest Post: No-knead bread

_I have one more test before Fall break so I apologize, once again, for the “few and far between” posts. However, today you are in luck… Meredith has written another guest post for you all! Today she is sharing a fabulous recipe for no-knead bread.
My husband is the bread-baker in our family. When I met him, I’d been baking my own bread for about a year, because I’m a good baker. There’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to do bread. But I’d messed it up differently every time. Forgot the salt. Didn’t knead long enough. Under-baked. Burned. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Then I met Jon, who worked at a bakery in our neighborhood. A wonderful bakery, with fabulous artisan breads, baked in an amazing multi-deck stone hearth oven. At the time, he worked mixing and benching, and eventually he started baking. He brought home more bread than we could eat. Then he started practicing at home. He never forgets the salt.

So I quit messing with bread. We moved to Northeast Tennessee, and our artisan bread options are limited. Jon bakes some, but he’s working full-time and going to school full-time, and time is precious. So we’ve been making do with the grocery store stuff, the sliced kind for my son’s pb & j’s, and an occasional “artisan-style” loaf for my morning toast.

Then Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread, no stone hearth required, started drifting in and out of my attention. I vaguely remember hearing about this on NPR some years ago, and not really paying attention because I’m not the bread-baker.  But a little over a year ago, a friend served no-knead bread at a dinner party. And it was delicious. Then, for Christmas, we received Amanda Hesser’s The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century, which reprints favorites from the past 150 years or so of Times food writing. And it includes this recipe. Several months later, I’ve finally gotten around to trying it. (It was the first esting time that got me. Figuring out when to start this so that 12-18 hours later I could work with it, and then have 3 more hours or so before it was finished required waaay too much math.)

Yesterday, after really wanting toast for breakfast and having Corn Flakes instead, I decided to try it.  While the kids ate dinner, I put together the dough.

  • 3 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
     Mix together in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rest 12-18 hours.
This morning, the dough had risen considerably, and was speckled with bubbles about to break through. I let it go until 10:15 or so, about 16 hours after I’d mixed it up (less because of its readiness – Hesser says 18 hours is preferable, but that it’s ready when covered with little bubbles – and more because that timing worked out well for my chances of working without the kids’ “help.”)
     Here the directions say to turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, and fold over itself once or twice. I chose twice, and the dough smoothed into a neat little roundish packet. After covering it loosely with plastic wrap and letting it rest 15 minutes, I floured my hands, shaped it into a ball (sort of – it’s a really loose dough), and set it on a towel (not terrycloth) covered with cornmeal. A little more cornmeal on top, cover with another towel, and let rise 2-2 1/2 hours. When it’s ready to bake, it won’t spring back readily when pressed with fingertips.
     While it rose (just before taking my kids upstairs for naptime), I turned on the oven to preheat my pot. I’m saving my money and watching clearance racks for [dream pot](http://www.csnstores.com/popups/media_viewer_images.php?sku=SAB1087), so this time I just used my regular All Clad stainless 8 quart soup pot. A heavier pot with a tighter-fitting lid probably would’ve worked better, but this one did just fine. I heated it at 450 while I put the kids down, and by the time they were asleep the bread was ready to go. Out came the pot, in went the bread, down went the lid, and into the oven. After half an hour, I took the lid off, and left it for another 20 minutes or so to brown up.
     And I have to say, it’s decent bread. Not quite as tall as I might like, perhaps, but for the effort expended . . . it’s fantastic! And it’ll hold up admirably to butter & jam in the morning. I’m a happy girl.