This bread is really easy. I know what you’re thinking: homemade artisan bread? Who does that? I was thinking the same thing. Which is why this is the first time I’ve baked bread since I was about twelve years old, kneading away with the help of my Nana her classic Swedish Limpa bread. Nana was very strict about waiting for the light brown round loaf of soft sweetly-fragrant fluff to cool completely before we were allowed to cut it and enjoy a slice. As a child, it was utter torture.
This bread is easier to make than Limpa bread because you don’t have to knead it. It’s also another recipe I’d been hearing about from my fellow food-enthusiast friends at work. Their eyes would get so wide when they talked about it, I thought their eyeballs might pop right out of their sockets. And they wouldn’t stop stressing how easy it is. “It’s like, DUMB easy,” said one friend. So don’t worry if you’re dumb. Apparently you can make this bread too!
This no-knead bread–in-a-pot technique was created by Jim Lahey of New York’s famous Sullivan Street Bakery. And in his book My Bread in which he so generously shares his secrets, he also says to let the bread cool completely after it’s baked. This will take at least an hour. When my first loaf was finally ready to be removed from the oven, after waiting for it to rise for about 15 hours and then bake for another 45 minutes, my patient boyfriend had become very enticed by the smells wafting through the house. And the second I placed that round crusty loaf on to the drying rack, “Can we eat it now!?” I finally knew how Nana must have felt.
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1 ¼ tsp table salt
- ¼ teaspoon instant or active dry yeast
- 1 1/3 cups cool water
- Cornmeal, wheat bran or additional flour for dusting
In a large bowl, stir together flour, salt and yeast. And the water and with a spatula or your hands, or both, combine until it forms a wet sticky dough. If it’s not sticky enough, add another tablespoon or two of water. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature out of direct sunlight for 12 to 18 hours.
After dough has risen for 12 to 18 hours, dust a wooden cutting board or work surface of your choice with flour. Use a spatula to transfer the dough on to the floury board. Fold the sides of the dough up to the center to form a round ball of dough. If it’s super sticky add a little more flour.
Place a cotton kitchen cloth on the counter or work surface and dust generously with flour or cornmeal and carefully place the perfect ball of dough on to the cloth. Loosely wrap the cloth around the dough and let rise for another hour or two.
Thirty minutes before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Place the oven-proof 4 ½ to 5 ½ quart heavy pot with lid in the center rack of the oven.
When the dough has doubled in size it is time to carefully remove the pot from the oven with pot holders and place the dough, seem side up into the pot. You will know if the dough is ready to bake if you press into it and it makes an indentation that holds.
Once the dough has been placed seam side up in the pot, cover the pot and return to the oven. Bake with lid on for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes. The bread should be a dark brown color but not burnt. Remove from oven and carefully place bread on metal rack. Let cool completely before cutting. This usually takes at least an hour.