5 Ingredients or Fewer

No Knead Country Loaf

March 22, 2013
3 Ratings
Photo by Beth Kirby
Author Notes

I’ve always cherished the dear notion of forming an intimate relationship with wild yeast lassoed from thin air with water and flour, but more often than not when faced with the prospect of a multi-day process and feeding schedule, I end up running out to the store instead. While it’s no indignity to pay a baker for your bread, I still prefer being able to conjure sustenance from, seemingly, pennies and dust at home. The ever popular “no knead” method now allows me the satisfaction of more often than not baking my own bread, but it’s low maintenance enough that I can actually, in real reality, integrate it into my weekly routine. If traditional artisan methods are like having a dog, this "no knead" method from Jim Lahey's book "My Bread" is more like having a cat. Just leave it alone and let it do its thing. This recipe is now my reliable go to when I haven’t time for a “project” but want bread. Which is mostly always. Even better you can make it your own by folding in almost anything right at the beginning when mixing the basic ingredients: nuts, fruit, spices, olives, cheese, roasted garlic, or herbs. Make it your own. A ribollita with olive bread is a natural, and pain perdu made with spiced cranberry & walnut bread is heavenly. Note: All purpose flour will work in a pinch here. —Beth Kirby | {local milk}

  • Prep time 19 hours
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Makes 1 10" round loaf, 1 1/4 pounds
  • 3 cups bread flour (400 grams)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt (8 grams)
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant or other active dry yeast (1 gram)
  • 1 1/3 cups cool (55-65 degrees F) water (300 grams)
  • 1/4 cup wheat bran, cornmeal, or additional flour as needed for dusting
In This Recipe
  1. Sit a bowl on a kitchen scale. Measure your flour, salt, and yeast directly into the bowl. If using volumetric measurements, skip the scale. Stir in the water to form a sticky dough using a wooden spoon. You know, so you can get at least a little of that visceral, old world thrill. It should be tacky, and if it isn’t, add a tablespoon or two more water. Cover that bowl with a tea towel, plastic, what have you. And then let it come to life in a dark corner of your kitchen counter over the course of 12 to 18 hours. It will more than double in size and be dotted with bubbles. [Note: If you don’t have a scale, the volumetric measurements are acceptable albeit less accurate, but don’t pack the flour in. And then get a scale. I’m one of those true believers, a kitchen scale evangelist. More accurate. Fewer dishes. Amen.]
  2. Pull the stringy dough out onto a generously floured surface and make a ball by pulling the edges into the center with lightly floured hands. It's gonna be sticky but resist the temptation to add more flour. Wrap seam side down in a kitchen towel (no terry cloth unless you want fuzzies in your bread) dusted with your choice of dusting flour for an hour or two. When your press your finger in 1/4 inch and it leaves an impression, it's ready. If not let it rest another 15 minutes.
  3. In the last half hour of the second rise, heat your oven to 475° and throw a Dutch oven in there to heat up along with it. When it’s time to bake, dust the bottom of the pot with cornmeal or flour. Invert your bread ball in off the kitchen towel, seam up. Bake it 30 minutes covered and about 10 uncovered or until it’s deep golden. Cool it thoroughly, about an hour. Or don’t and rip into it within ten minutes, burning your finers, like I inevitably do. And there you have it. Yeasty, crusty, golden bread with, I swear, no more than 5 minutes of hands-on time.

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A Southern writer with a cast iron skillet & a camera. Freelance food writer & photographer. Blogs at Localmilkblog.com