You asked for it. Here it is: the recipe that’s been around a few years and was printed first in the New York Times. It really is so easy, but I’ve given detailed instructions anyway. The best pan for this is a heavy dutch oven, like my enameled cast iron Le Creuset stockpot, or Pyrex. The pot can be anywhere from 4-7 quart with a lid and it has to be oven safe to 450.
Before you begin, you might want to check out these two links from the original recipe:
Note that I use all purpose flour here. And I like King Arthur brand. I’ve made it with bread flour and the rise wasn’t quite as nice. But it was still good. I added another tablespoon of water when I made it with bread flour.
Rita’s Version Easy Artisan No-Knead Bread
3 cups all purpose unbleached flour, plus bit more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast – this is the rapid rise yeast
1-1/2 teaspoons to a scant tablespoon salt – (last time I made it with a scant tablespoon salt and the taste was really good, so I’ll be making it that way from now on)
1-1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon water
Flour or cornmeal for dusting (I used cornmeal)
Whisk flour, yeast and salt together. Make a well in the center. Add water and stir with a spatula for about a minute, until blended. That’s all it takes, time wise. It will look wet and shaggy.
Cover with wrap. Now if you want you can transfer it into another bowl that’s been brushed with olive oil. Put dough in and brush a little olive oil on the top. This just gives it a bit more flavor in my opinion.
Let rise 12-14 hours at room temperature, on counter if you want. It will double in size and still look real wet.
Remove dough and fold over a couple of times. Lay it on the counter or whatever that has been dusted with flour.
Try to shape into a ball – the ball will be somewhat flat and still pretty sticky. Coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) that has been dusted with cornmeal or flour. Place dough on towel and cover with another towel.
OR MY NEWEST METHOD: Cut a piece of parchment paper larger than the bottom of the pan. Dust with cornmeal or flour (I like cornmeal). Then place dough on parchment paper, cover with towel. (The reason I do this is no transferring dough from towel to pan, you just plop the dough on the parchment paper into the pan when ready to bake. The parchment paper insulates the bottom of the dough, too, so no fear of the bottom burning. (That usually does not happen to me even if I don’t use parchment, but some readers say it has happened too them, so parchment is your insurance). Now just proceed with recipe as follows:
Let rise 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.
Now preheat your oven to 450 and WHILE IT”S PREHEATING PUT THE PAN IN WITH THE LID ON. Some recipes say to put the pan in the oven for at least 30 minutes, but I find the 20 minutes it takes to preheat my oven is just fine. You do what you want. You have to have intense heat to make the first rise high enough.
Carefully, with mitts, take the pan out of the oven and remove the lid, again with mitts. Turn the dough over into the pot, bottom side up. Shake the pot if you have to to distribute the dough but don’t be too careful – it will bake up just fine. Now if you’re using parchment paper, just plop the dough into the pan on the parchment paper, no need to turn it over. Cover and bake 30 minutes.
Remove lid and bake uncovered another 15 minutes, until loaf is golden brown and, if you have a thermometer stick it into the center and it will register 210 degrees when the loaf is done. In my oven this takes about 10 minutes.
Now just look at that bread – golden brown crunchy thick crust, great texture too!