Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread
3 c. all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ t. instant yeast
1 ¼ t. salt
Cornmeal, wheat bran or flour (we used cornmeal)
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cup water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18 to 24 hours, at room temperature.
The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place the dough on it; flour your hands well, sprinkle the dough with a bit more flour and fold it over on itself a couple of times. Turn the seamed side down, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rest about 15 minutes.
Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or to your hands, shape the dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton tea towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put the dough seam side down on the towel and dust with a bit more flour, bran or cornmeal. Fold tea towel over the top of the dough, or cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it’s ready, the dough will be about double in size and will not readily spring back when gently poked with a finger.
A half-hour before the dough is ready, heat the oven to 450°F. Put a heavy 6 to 8 quart covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) into the oven as it heats – we used a Le Creuset pot. When dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven. Slide your hand under the tea towel and turn the dough over into the pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is OK. Shake the pan once or twice if the dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with the lid and bake 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 15 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown. Cool on a rack. Oh-My-God good!