First, it’s important to distinguish No-Knead Bread from No-Need Bread. The former is a very laid back way to make bread if you have no food processor, stand mixer, bread machine or time. The latter is what you keep eating out of the little basket with a napkin in it, even though your pants are a little tight, just because it tastes really good, and look! There’s Ciabatta in there, too!
I have had this recipe forever, in many forms. It was sent to me via snail mail by an old friend, I found it again on line and bookmarked it, but I just kept losing it. Frankly, I don’t mind making bread that has to be kneaded either by hand or machine, but when this recipe appeared in my life a third time last week on someone else’s blog, I decided it was a cosmic sign.
It’s really, really good bread that emerges looking beautiful and crusty and artisanal, and tasting far more flavorful and nuanced than your average white loaf. It has real, shatter-y crust, and lots of texture. I really think you could pass it off as something from a bakery (which is fitting, since that’s where the recipe came from). Best of all, you really need nothing but a bowl, some plastic wrap, two towels and a big pot with a lid. (Well, and an oven). No hard labor, and easy clean-up.
You do, however, need to plan ahead. Including rising time (and I went with the 16 hour option on the first rise) you are looking at at least 20 hours. If you want bread for dinner at 6:00, you’re looking at starting the bread at 10:00 the night before. I would also use cornmeal, or something prettier and more interesting than flour for the final rise, as whatever you use clings to the finished loaf and effects it’s appearance.
Here’s the recipe. Don’t wait for two more people to tell you to make it.