This recipe is a bit of a meeting-in-the-middle between the Artisan Bread in 5 and Jim Lahey techniques. The flavor of Lahey’s recipe is amazing, but a 12–18-hr proofing followed by a 2-hr rise might seem like a daunting amount of waiting time for some. The original Artisan Bread in 5 recipe calls for a fair amount of yeast, which gives the finished loaf a very distinct yeasty flavor. This recipe cuts the yeast in half and compensates by extending the proofing and rise times slightly, allowing more natural flavors to develop without adding a good deal of time to the process. Once the proofing is complete, stick the dough in the fridge for up to two weeks and use it as you need it. (Bonus: the flavor improves over time from the cold fermentation.) No-knead doughs are usually shaped into round, rustic loaves, but they can easily be turned into fantastic sandwich bread. (A technique I discovered via The Kitchn.) A teensy bit of kneading and shaping yields a tighter crumb that slices wonderfully, but still begs to be eaten with just a little butter and sea salt, because it’s that good.
Notes on flour: I've subbed regular all-purpose flour for bread flour in the past and it turned out quite nicely. I've also swapped out half the white flour for whole wheat flour and found it worked quite well too. (It will be a wee bit denser, but it will have that yummy whole wheat taste as a trade off.) I haven't experimented with flours like rye and spelt myself, but I've read about others successfully using them in no-knead recipes. (If you'd like to try those, I'd recommend starting with a smaller amount [i.e., 1 part alternative flour to 3 parts bread/AP flour] to see how it works, then upping it the next time if you think it could use more.) Overall, if you use whole wheat or any other flour besides bread/all-purpose, I suggest giving the dough a bit more time to develop at the proofing stage, and again at the rise. —Carey Nershi
3 1/4 cups
bread flour (433 grams) (see note above regarding alternative flours)
Combine flours, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Add water and stir together with a wooden spoon to form a shaggy dough. Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and let proof at room temperature for around 5 hours. At this point the dough can be used immediately, or covered with plastic wrap and kept in the fridge for up to two weeks.
On baking day, remove half of the dough from the bowl and return the remainder to the fridge. Turn the dough out on a floured surface and lightly knead 3–4 times. Shape dough into a rectangle approximately 8 in. x 12 in. Fold one third of the dough into the center, followed by the other third.
Place seam side-down in a buttered loaf pan. Cover and let rise for approximately 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat your oven to 450°. Dust the top of the dough with a little flour and score with a serrated knife. Bake for 30–35 minutes, or until the top of the loaf has just begun to brown. Let cool for at least an hour before slicing.