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No-knead bread

Adapted from a recipe by Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery, New York. This recipe suits me perfectly. I have plenty of time but little strength or stamina. This takes about 24 hours all up, but only about 10 - 15 minutes of effort. It makes a yummy white loaves with a holey texture and a chewy crust.


6 cups white flour, more for dusting
½ t dry yeast
1 T salt
2-3 T sugar
3 cups water

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Add the water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with cloth. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Don't worry if a 'skin' has formed on the top. Work the dough a little, folding it on itself till it doesn't get any smaller (should take less than a minute). Cover loosely with tea towel and let rest on bench about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, separate the dough into two balls. Generously coat a baking tray with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put each dough ball on the tray and dust the tops liberally with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover loosely with a cotton tea towel and let rise somewhere warm for at least 2 and preferably 5-6 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 250 degrees. Put two 6- to 8-liter heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic - e.g. a skillet or large casserole with straight-ish sides) in oven as it heat, along with a shallow pan with a cup or so of water in it. When dough is ready, carefully remove pots from oven. Drop the risen dough balls flour side down into the containers; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Bake uncovered 30 minutes, opening the oven door during the last 5 minutes of cooking to release the steam and make the crust a bit crisper. Turn onto a rack and leave to cool.

This bread keeps for about a week at room temperature and freezes well. You can make it more interesting with the addition of spice seeds, sun-dried tomatoes, spring onions etc.