This is it: the bread recipe so simple and good, it will get you baking bread every week—even if you’ve never made a loaf in your life. It’s the comforting, no-knead peasant bread that’s ready in as little as 2 hours, unlike other no-knead breads that are ready ... tomorrow. Recipe adapted slightly from —Genius Recipes
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Alexandra Stafford's No-Knead Peasant Bread
2 hours 45 minutes
two 14-ounce loaves
(512 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons
lukewarm water, made by mixing 1/2 cup boiling water with 1 1/2 cups cold water
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, and instant yeast. Add the water. Using a rubber spatula, mix until the water is absorbed and the ingredients form a sticky dough ball. (If you need to use active dry yeast instead, proof it in the lukewarm water first for about 10 minutes, until foamy, before adding to the other ingredients.)
Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the dough has doubled in bulk. Note: Here's a trick for making the perfect warm spot for the dough to rise. Set the oven to 400° F and let it preheat for 1 minute, then shut it off. The temperature will be between 80° F and 100° F. you should be able to place your hands (carefully) on the oven grates without burning them.
Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 425° F. Grease two 1-quart oven-safe bowls, like Pyrex (see note below), with softened butter—be generous. Using two forks, deflate the dough by releasing it from the sides of the bowl and pulling it toward the center. Rotate the bowl quarter turns as you deflate, turning the mass into a rough ball.
Using your two forks and working from the center out, separate the dough into two equal pieces. Use the forks to lift each half of the dough into a prepared bowl. If the dough is too wet to transfer with forks, lightly grease your hands with butter or oil, then transfer half to a bowl. (If your dough drops and breaks apart on the transfer, don't worry, just divvy the dough between the bowls and it will come back together as it rises.) Do not cover the bowls. Let the dough rise on the countertop near the oven (or another warm, draft-free spot) for 10 to 20 minutes, until the top of the dough just crowns the rims of the bowls.
Transfer the bowls to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375° F and bake for 17 to 20 minutes more, until evenly golden all around. Remove the bowls from the oven and turn the loaves out onto cooling racks. If the loaves look pale, return them to their bowls and bake for 5 minutes longer. Let the loaves cool for 15 minutes before cutting.
Note: If you don't have 2 one-quart bowls, you may use other vessels, though differences in pan sizes will affect the shape of the final loaves. This recipe can be adapted for 2 loaf pans (preferably 8.5 x 4.5-inch pans) by multiplying the quantities of ingredients by 1.5 (i.e. 6 cups/768g flour, 3 cups water, etc.).
Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink cooking tropes. They're handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacy. They get us talking and change the way we cook. And, once we've folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius too. Watch for new Genius Recipes every Wednesday morning on our blog, dug up by Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore.