In her Essential New York Times Cookbook, Amanda Hesser assumes that if you haven’t heard of Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread recipe, you’ve been living in Siberia. Although this town gets pretty chilly, it’s not Siberia. I did hear about that revolutionary method when my mom emailed me the recipe and badgered me until I tried it out. I mixed the dough in my apartment’s painfully tiny kitchen, neglected it for three days, and in lieu of kitchen towels I used woven cloth placemats that had a funky smell. The bread tasted like that funky smell so I pawned it off on the guys, who kindly waited until I left to throw it away. These guys never throw food away, and they’d been living on canned beef hash for weeks. That loaf was just awful.
Needless to say, I didn’t understand the hype.
But several years down the road, I’m telling you to make this bread. Make it now. And make it with one cup of all purpose, one cup of bread, and one cup of rye flour, because that is a tasty, tasty blend. This is my go-to bread now, until a better bread unseats it. And to all other bread recipes I say: Good luck.
Amanda Hesser, why does this recipe rule? “Because it does not require kneading or a baking stone, and mostly because it yields a loaf that looks and tastes in every way as if it were made by an artisan baker with a wood-fired oven.” Thanks, you said it better than I could. Basically, when this bread comes out of the oven you feel like a rock star. Mysterious Intern said, “I’ve never seen someone so excited about bread.”
Since I mess with every recipe eventually, I let my second batch of loaves rise in oiled bowls rather than floured towels. And although the oil produced that gorgeous burnished crust, it also burned the bottoms of the loaves and set off the fire alarm. I’ll stick to flour from now on, or maybe try throwing on a rye glaze.
As pretty as that loaf is, you should taste it. N was saying the other day that I’ve spoiled him for supermarket bread. This is usually the part of the post where I start thinking about what I’ve gotten myself in for, getting us so used to good bread that I have to make enough for myself and two bottomless pits to eat, but this bread is so low maintenance that I can’t even muster the feeblest of regrets. You mix the dough, let it sit overnight, shape into loaves, and bake 2 hours later. If you have an oven-safe deep vessel with lid, you’re good. (I’ve used a ceramic casserole with glass lid, a clay chicken baking thing, and an enameled cast iron French oven, all successfully. My go-to is the casserole, which I got at Salvation Army a month ago.)
The recipe is here. I’d say it’s idiotproof, but let’s remember how my first attempt went. Better luck to you!
(And on that note, if you try any of the recipes I blog about, I would love to hear how they worked out!)