I baked this no knead crusty bread last year (2014) on 29th January. I know I am posting the recipe after a whole year. Well, this bread does not need any introduction nor a recipe. The recipe is by Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery - a simple google search and the recipe will pop up. But the crust and the texture makes this one awesome bread.Its a very simple bread to make - uses minimal yeast and no muscle power either. Just needs time 20 to 24 hours.
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups water
cornmeal or wheat flour or bread flour as needed
In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt and water and mix with a wooden spoon till all is blended well. and you get a goopy and sticky mixture. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest in a warm place for about 16 to 18 hours.
After the 16 to 18 hours the dough will have risen almost double and will be covered in bubbles - just a proof that the yeast is working.
Remove the dough on a lightly floured work surface and fold it over on itself about 2 to 3 times.
Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball (be careful not to use too much flour) - its the water in the dough that makes the crust so crunchy and the crumb so beautiful.
Jim Lahey says to use a cotton towel to get the second rise - but, I used parchment paper. Put some cornmeal on the parchment and put the shaped dough seam side down on it and covered with a huge bowl and let it rise for the next 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.
About one and half hours after you have kept the dough for its second rise preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Pick the parchment paper with dough inside and slide it into the pot. Shake pan once or twice to get even dough distribution - do not worry about the shape, it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Be very careful when you are handling the pans inside the oven - use proper oven mittens to remove it from the oven and to put it back in. It is very very hot.