Most seasoned bakers were raised to believe that good bread needs to be kneaded for a long period to develop the texture of proteins and perfect the structure of the dough. This belief has been challenged with the emergence of the Artisan Bread revival that has spread across the country. This is old-school bread. Artisan bread, when done correctly, has a thin crisp crust with a remarkable chew. The texture is velvety and silky with wide air pockets. The flavor is deep and rich with complex warm undertones. This is one of those loaves of bread. This dough is by and far, one of the most convenient and useful recipes you can ever add to your recipe file. Why? Because once the dough is mixed, there's relatively little work involved in producing the bread. It can be made 8-12 hours before you want bread, and there's no fuss, mess or stress.
Don't have a wood oven on your back patio? No problem! This is baked in a cast-iron pot that mimics those ovens and special machines that professional bakers use with the best artisan bread…namely steaming the dough in the early stages of baking to produce a crisp-thin crust. Then, the last few minutes of baking the lid is removed for the loaf to brown. The result? Killer delicious bread.
A few factors on the no-knead bread that can influence the lightness of the bread:
Temperature: raising the bread during the winter months will take up to an hour longer for the second raise in the pan because our houses are cooler now. If you're like me, we keep it around 70 during the winter and a good ten degrees colder inside will make a difference in how fast it raises.... exponentially. The solution would be to turn on the oven to "warm". Place the dough that is in the loaf (ready to bake) in the oven, covering it with a mist of water. TURN OFF THE OVEN. It should raise in an oven around 100 degrees or less so don't leave it on! Once it has risen, pull the loaf out of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 and then proceed to bake.
The freshness of the yeast and type of yeast: It is always a good idea to check the freshness of the yeast as well. If you are using the regular active dry yeast, 1/2 tsp is the correct measure but if it is older, it will take more (up to 1 tsp). One may add up to 1/4 cup of sugar or honey to the recipe to help get the yeast active if there is still a problem (especially during the winter months).
Type and mill of Flour: Texas Pure Mills Bread Flour is perfect for this bread. It has a stronger amount of protein than all-purpose flour and will always yield a higher loaf.
Liquid measuring cup
2 small prep cups
2-quart cast-iron kettle with a lid
No-Knead 4 Ingredient Artisan Bread
3 cups Texas Pure Mills Bread Flour
½ tsp. salt (you may add up to 1 1/2 tsp salt depending on your preference)
½ tsp. active dry yeast
1 ¼ cup water (under 110°)
Combine the ingredients in a 1-gallon food-grade bucket or a large 1-gallon bowl with a lid, just until everything is mixed and smooth. It takes about 20-30 turns by hand to get it all combined. Cover with a lid and keep it covered 10-12 hours at room temperature until you're ready to bake your bread. Form into a loaf and place on a lightly oiled cast-iron kettle with a lid. Allow raising in a warm room until doubled, about 2 hours. Bake at 375° covered for 20 minutes. Remove lid (it will be very hot) and allow to finish baking an additional 15-20 minutes ( a meat thermometer will register 165° or more).
Here it is. Bread that isn't smarter than a 5th grader. You've got this.