No Knead Crusty Italian Bread

5 Jun

I know how much better brown or multigrain bread is for me but when it comes to bread, I am putty in the hands of a good loaf of fresh white bread. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t go weak in the knees for warm white bread covered in creamy butter. There is something so comforting about that simple combination that can’t be denied. My sister recently passed this recipe on to me and, with my mind replaying the glowing recommendation that she gave it, I immediately set to work on it.

This recipe was extremely simple to make and yielded one beautiful, round loaf of bread that looked like it was straight from a farmyard kitchen. I was so proud when this bad boy emerged from the oven; I felt like a real baker! So much so, that I set about preparing another loaf immediately. The only down-side to this recipe is that you do need to prepare it in advance so it’s not a treat that you can simply whip up in a moment of weakness. Yet if you plan ahead, you will be rewarded. Splurge on the calories with the best butter that you can afford and smear it on whilst the bread is still warm. Once you sink your teeth in for the first bite, all thoughts of calories and nutritional value will have disappeared.

No Knead Crusty Italian Bread

3 cups of organic, all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1 ¼ teaspoon of salt

Method:
In a large bowl combine the flour, yeast and salt. Add about 1 ½ cups of water and stir until blended. You want the dough to be shaggy and sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for at least 12 hours, preferably 18 hours, at warm room temperature.

Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball.

Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat the oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6 to 8 quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in the oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven. Slide your hand under the towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess but that’s ok. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake for another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Recipe by Mark Bittman, by way of Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery.

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5 Responses to “No Knead Crusty Italian Bread”

  1. vancouverbites June 5, 2010 at 1:58 pm #

    Oooh! Looks delicious!

    • greedyguts June 5, 2010 at 2:05 pm #

      Thanks! It was absolutely delicious!

  2. VancityAllie June 6, 2010 at 1:16 pm #

    Looks AMAZING!

  3. CapriciousCat August 15, 2010 at 1:04 pm #

    I just stumbled across your site the other day, and I’ve already baked a loaf of your bread. In a word, it was AMAZING! There is nothing like the simple joy of eating homemade bread with a little butter and strawberry jam. And the best part? The bread crackles when you take it out of the oven… 😀

    • greedyguts August 16, 2010 at 5:49 pm #

      I couldn’t agree more.

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