Many people have tried the outstanding no-knead bread recipe adapted from the Sullivan Street Bakery, published in the New York Times (at least twice) by Mark Bittman, and the subject of a lot of follow-up traffic on the internet.
I tried each version of the recipe as it became simpler. Bittman now claims 5 minutes of labor to make a loaf. I think I’ve got it down to half that. The crux move for me was discovering a teflon-coated ceramic baking dish that can serve as the single receptacle for the entire process, including mixing, rising, and baking. The dish I have is shown here along with the finished loaf. It’s available from Amazon for $39.99. (No, I’m not a shill for the manufacturer. Yes, I do get 80 cents if you buy one from Amazon.)
Baubilt Bread Recipe
- Place teflon-coated baking dish on a digital kitchen scale and press “tare” to zero scale.
- Add 600 g of flour to the dish. (I dump some white flour in and then dump in some whole wheat flour, aiming for about 1/3 whole wheat, but I’m not fussy about it. Mix in 2 teaspoons salt and about 1 teaspoon dry yeast. (Folks, it doesn’t really matter how much yeast you use… 1/2 t to 1 T will work fine; the critters multiply like crazy.)
- Press “tare” again to zero scale.
- Add 540 g water. (The precise values don’t matter…what does matter is the ratio, that you add 90% as much water as flour by weight…a so-called 90 percent hydration dough….really wet by bread dough standards, which is why this recipe has such nice bubbles and doesn’t require kneading.)
- Mix the dough until it’s a uniform consistency (just a few strokes to get everything mixed thoroughly).
- Let the dough rise in the covered dish for 5-10 hours, with 7-8 hours the ideal, depending on temperature. Mine rises at about 70F, the temperature in my kitchen.
- Turn your oven on and set to 500F. Stir the dough to “knock it down.” The dough will be pretty gooey. Wipe off the edges/sides of the dish to remove any dough residue so it doesn’t burn to a crisp in the oven. Put the lid back on and let the dough rest/rise while the oven preheats.
- Put the covered dish in oven and turn the oven down to 450F. Bake for 45 minutes. (The initial 500F jolt is to make up for skipping Bittman’s step of pre-heating the pan, etc.)
- Remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes (or until the internal temperature of the loaf, via an instant-read thermometer, 200F).
- Turn the baked bread out on cooling rack. (It should fall right out of this pan.)
Using a Plain Old Pan
Of course you can bake bread without a teflon-coated ceramic baking dish. Before getting my baking dish I used a plain old 6-quart dutch oven (a stainless and aluminum model from Sur La Table with metal handles). But, you’ll probably need to use a bowl for steps 1-7 and then flop the ball of dough into a well-oiled pan before baking. I’ve never tried using a plain metal pan from start to finish, but I’m guessing the bread will stick badly to the pan if you try that approach. You do need to use a pan with a good lid, although I suppose foil might work.
Yes, of course different flour types give different results. I use plain old U.S. all-purpose flour plus Trader Joe’s white whole wheat flour, but I’ve used all kinds with good results. The bread is sinful with 100 percent white flour. One third whole wheat provides a veneer of nutritional respectability without much compromise in yumminess.
I use grams on the scale because the units feel nice and precise to me. I realize I’m mixing imperial and metric units. Sue me. A digital scale is a good thing to have in a kitchen, but if you don’t have one, then measure out 5 cups of flour (about 625 g) and 19 oz. water (563 g, which is 90% of 625 g).
An instant-read thermometer is better than timing the baking. Let the final (uncovered) phase go until the internal temperature of the bread is 200F.