Simple Daily Bread
I don’t buy bread as often as I used to. I love the taste of fresh-baked bread so much, I started to look for the easiest ways to fit baking bread into my schedule. No-knead is the direction I decided to go in, and after a lot of testing I think I found the perfect bread recipe that works for me.
High hydration dough is my favorite kind of dough. I don’t have enough experience as a baker to understand why that is. All I know is that this dough is great in every way.
400g Bread Flour
Start this bread the day before you want it. I haven’t found many ways around that, unless you want to knead dough for 10 minutes. I don’t want to do that. That’s like… work.
You won’t be able to knead this dough. It’s got way too much water in it. It’s like kneading glue. But don’t be afraid of handling this dough. Just wet your hands and work quickly.
After all the ingredients are mixed together, let them sit at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours. I usually start mine before I go to bed, that way I’m ready to bake after work.
After the initial fermentation (or “rise” or “whatever”), wet your hands and work the dough into a ball. I fold mine into thirds, slap it on the counter in a cool way, then just fold it under itself until it forms a loose ball. Throw it back into the bowl and let it rise for another hour.
After the second, shorter rise the dough is ready to be formed into a loaf. At this point instead of wetting my hands I switch to flour. Dust the dough with a generous amount of flour. Work the dough in your hands to knock off the excess. Place the dough onto parchment paper.
The dough should be completely covered in flour. Use your hands to tuck in the edges of the dough until it forms a nice round (or in the case of the video, an oval.) Cover with a clean towel and let it rise for the final time: 1 hour. There should be enough flour on the dough to keep it from sticking to the towel, but if you’re worried just sprinkle on some more.
For the last hour that the dough rises, place a cast-iron pan/dutch oven in the oven and heat at 400°F. When the dough is ready to go in the oven, the pan should be nice and hot. If you don’t have a cast-iron pan or dutch oven, just use a baking sheet. But that’s no fun.
Lift the edges of the parchment paper to carefully transfer the dough to your intensely hot cast-iron pan. Immediately after you place the bread in the oven, give it a few spritzes from a water bottle. Again… I’m not an experienced enough baker to really get the science behind that, but I saw a guy do it once and now I do it too. I’m impressionable like that.
Bake for 35-40 minutes and remove to a cooling rack. Let it cool for a full hour before cutting into it. I like to store mine in a plastic bag after that. Stays fresh enough for a day or two, but you don’t have to worry about it going too stale. You can always revive it into toast, or better yet, just bake another loaf.