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I made bread!!! and it's sooo gooooooood! but it's even easier than it is good, which is a lot! Can you tell I'm excited about this recipe? Jim Lahey, a baker in New York City developed it and the Times calls it "revolutionary" because of its "combination of great crumb, lightness, incredible flavor...and an enviable, crackling crust, the feature of bread  that most frequently separates the amateurs from the pros." Are you excited yet?! Don't you want to make this bread right now?! Well don't go preheating your oven yet, because that part doesn't come until 20 hours from now. Yes, what makes this bread so fabulous is that you needn't knead it, because the long time for rising does the work that is normally done by kneading. Does it sound like I know what I'm talking about? Because I don't. I just followed the directions. If you're interested in the science you should read the Times article linked above, very interesting! Ok let's get down to it.
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In a large bowl stir together 3 cups flour, 1/4 teaspoon yeast and 1 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour in 1 5/8 cups of water and mix together with a spatula or your hands just until the dough comes together. It won't be pretty, don't worry. You can't really mess this up, for instance I thought that 1/4 teaspoon yeast was entirely too little and instead put in a whole packet, as if I knew more than a master baker. But the bread still turned out amazing so again, don't worry no matter how ugly your dough looks at first.
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Put some plastic wrap over it and let it sit for 18 hours. When it's ready it'll look like this, with little bubbles all over. Pour the dough onto a floured surface. The dough will be very sticky so add some flour on top so it doesn't stick to your hands. Flatten it a bit with your hands, then fold it over onto itself twice and shape it into a ball.
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On a cotton towel (not terry cloth) sprinkle some cornmeal or wheat bran. Put the dough on it seam side down. Sprinkle some more cornmeal or wheat bran on top and fold the towel to cover the dough. Let it sit for another 2 hours. After 1 hour and 30 minutes have passed, put a heavy bottomed pot with a lid in the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
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It should be a lot bigger after 2 hours. Starting to look like bread huh?
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 Now carefully take the hot pot out of the oven and plop the dough into it with the seam side up. Mine didn't have much of a seam, but that's okay.
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Put the lid back on the pot and bake for 30 minutes. Then take the lid off and bake for 15 more minutes or until bread is browned, up to 30 minutes. 
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Let cool on a rack and then stare at it. Is it not the most beautiful loaf of bread you ever saw, and all the more beautiful because you made it? Note the delicious caramel color of the crust, the subtle grid pattern left by your cotton towel, the artful contrast between the cornmeal and the crust. Once you have fully savored this moment and have taken a few pictures for posterity, you may cut into your bread.
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Gasp! Even more to admire! Look at all those air bubbles! Feel the weight of the bread in your poorly manicured fingers. Just the right consistency for absorbing an italian seasoned olive oil.
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Check out this monster sandwich. What a great picture, it looks like it's attacking you! The only downside to this bread, (is it even a downside?) is that the crust leaves a lot of crumbs, you can see them all over the background in this picture. You're gonna have to sweep your kitchen floor after slicing this bread. But that is just the price you pay for a crust that "separates the amateurs from the pros!"

Recipe source: New York Times
 


07/08/2011 00:19

Yay! I love homemade bread. I think I'm lazier than you, though; the no-knead version I make takes 2-5 hours to rise. I don't have the advanced planning skills necessary to mix it a full day ahead of time.

Also, I just read this article the other day, and now I don't want to buy bread ever again:

http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/cooking-discussion/make-or-buy-bread-150218

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07/08/2011 11:59

Thanks for sharing that article, I spent about an hour roaming that whole site! I've never been to thekitchn.com, definitely adding it to my favorites.

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