I’m sharing a secret with you today…
You can bake the most delicious, impressive bread at home…and all you need is time, 3 ingredients, and an oven. Really! The result is a chewy, crusty, holey, delicious loaf, that will instantly boost your popularity with whomever you share it with. And the best news is that you probably already have all of the ingredients in your pantry 🙂
The recipe comes from Jim Lahey, the owner of the famous Sullivan Street Bakery in NYC. According to the NYTimes, it’s one of the most popular recipes they’ve ever published. It’s so easy, you’ll memorize the recipe the first time you make it. You just mix together some flour, yeast, salt, and water, which will make a shaggy dough that will have you doubting.
BUT- it sits, covered in plastic wrap, for 18 hours (sometimes I let mine go for 24 because life gets in the way), and it becomes this pillowy, promising cloud of dough.
You form it into a ball, and let it proof for a couple more hours while you pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees F with a covered pot (I have this one) inside. You’ll drop the dough into the hot pot (it will look messy)
and bake it covered, and then uncovered, until it looks like the most impressive loaf of bread you’ve ever seen. Bonus? It crackles and pops like a bowl of Rice Krispies as it cools. The finished product gives you nooks and crannies that are screaming for butter, honey, jam, peanut butter, etc. Just grab some before it’s all gone 🙂
Adapted from Jim Lahey via Mark Bittman at The New York Times
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
- ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
- In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
- Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
- Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
- At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot* (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
*If you don’t have a pot like a Le Creuset, here’s a good article that offers some alternatives so you don’t miss out!
Now that I’ve mastered the original version, I’m going to start experimenting with flavors…sundried tomato, asiago, herbs, etc!