The Perfect No-Knead Bread Recipe

Fresh bread is a staple in the Farm at Cedar Mountain kitchen.

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Is there really anything better than the smell of hot bread baking in the oven? It lifts the spirits on a cool summer morning and warms the heart during a hearty autumn dinner. At the Farm, we bake at least one loaf at the beginning of the week and every ounce is gone by Friday.

We use a variant of Jim Lahey's 'No-Knead Bread Recipe' which I've included below for your baking pleasure. This recipe doesn't have preservatives and we try to always source our ingredients from local stores. The only downside to this type of bread-making is that it it requires separate stages that cannot be collapsed into one focused and fast baking session. This recipe requires two different stages for rising, so the baking process can span a couple of days. But, the stages can easily be worked into a daily routine. I usually make the dough in the evening and then let it set overnight. In the morning, once I work the dough again, I let it set for a couple of more hours while I tend to the usual morning Farm chores of making sure all the animals are fed and safe. Once I'm ready for a mid-morning break, I have a free moment to turn on the oven and let the dough bake for 30 minutes. I then have the perfect bread for some lunch sandwiches! 

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Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour (400 g), plus more for the work surface
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (1 g)

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt (8 g)
  • 1 1/2 cups water (375 ml) 
  • Cornmeal or wheat bran, as needed

Directions:

  1. MIX: In a large bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the water (don't be concerned about its temperature) and mix with a wooden spoon or your hand until you have a shaggy, sticky dough. This should take roughly 30 seconds. The stickier the better!
  2. 1st RISE: Cover the dough and bowl with a plate, towel, or plastic wrap and set aside to rest at warm room temperature (but not in direct sunlight) for at least 12 hours and preferably for about 18 hours. After 18 hours, look for the dough to be dotted with bubbles and take on a darkened appearance. This long, slow fermentation is what yields the bread’s rich flavor (and the long time is also why you don't need to jump-start the yeast with warmer water).
  3. SHAPE: Generously flour your work surface. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to turn the dough onto the surface in one blob. The dough will cling to the bowl in long, thread-like strands and it will be quite loose and sticky.  Lightly flour your hands and gently and quickly lift the edges of the dough in toward the center, effectively folding the dough over onto itself.  Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round.
  4. 2nd RISE: Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal. Place the dough, seam side down, on the towel and dust the surface with a little more flour, bran, or cornmeal. Cover the dough with another cotton towel and let it rise for about 2 hours. When it’s ready, the dough will be more than double in size and will hold the impression of your fingertip when you poke it lightly, making an indentation. If the dough readily springs back when you poke it, let it rise for another 15 minutes.
  5. PRE-HEAT: A half hour before the dough is done with its second rise, preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C). Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and place a 6 to 8 quart pot or bowl and its lid (whether cast iron, enamel, Pyrex, ceramic) in the oven as it heats.
  6. BAKE: When the dough is done with its second rise, carefully remove the pot from the oven and uncover it. Also uncover the dough. Being very careful not to touch the pot, lift up the dough and quickly but gently turn it over into the pot, seam side up. Cover the pot with its lid and bake for 30 minutes.
  7. REST: Remove the lid and bake until the loaf is beautifully browned to a deep chestnut color, around 15 to 30 minutes. Use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to carefully lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a wire rack. Let the bread cool down for at least 20 minutes (Lahey recommends an hour but sometimes it's impossible to wait that long!).

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!

Sincerely,

Camilla, Owner, The Farm at Cedar Mountain

All Photos By: Mary Elizabeth Creative

Elise Crawford