Prep1 hr 30 mins
From the New York Times, Nov 8, 2006. Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery. Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising
- 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, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. 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.
WOW!! I made a double batch and used 2 c. all purpose flour, 2 c. bread flour and 2 c. wheat flour. I let it rise almost 24 hours. I didn't wrap it in a towel. I put it in a big bowl with a lid and after about 22 hours I used a spoon to dip in between the bowl edge and bread and pull the bread up and over itself. I went all around the bowl like that and then sprinkled corn meal on top of the dough. I put my turkey roasting pan with the lid and about 2 tbsp vege oil in the 425 oven and let it preheat. I then dumped the dough directly from the bowl to the hot pan and sprinkled corn meal over the dough and baked it 30 minutes covered at 425 then uncovered at 375 for another 40 minutes. This is amazing bread!! I can't stop eating it. The outside is chewy and crusty without being hard. The middle is moist and has lots of holes with good texture. Next time I'll push the dough to cover the entire bottom of the pan cause the bottom crust that was in the oil is the best! This is extremely easy and unmessy if you skip the towel step!! Thanks for sharing!!
If you like a crusty artisan bread then you have to try this one. Don't let the directions intimidate you, it is actually quite easy. The dough is wet and will appear flat but don't give up on it, it will turn out. If it is humid or raining then don't add all of the water, start with a cup and add the rest in spurts until you get a nice consistency. When the recipe calls for generous flour, it means it or else it will stick to your towel, excess flour can be brushed off after baking. Enjoy it warm!
First time I tried this I didn't realize that my active dry yeast is not the right stuff - you've got to use instant yeast. Have since modified the recipe for active dry yeast by mixing the dough with only 1 1/2 C. water and then proofing 1/2 t. of yeast in 2 T. of warm water and then adding to the dough. Also I find that the softness of the dough yields a very flat loaf when made in a large dutch oven. A smaller pan will yield a thicker loaf.