This recipe is nothing a but simplification of Mark Bittman’s recipe, which is from Jim Lahey. Their idea is simple: use time instead of lots of kneading.

I highly recommend Bittman’s recipe (and his work in general), and Jim Lahey’s book is marvelous. But, but, but… I don’t think the towel coverage is necessary and I’ve adjusted the bread recipe ever so slightly. Since people have asked me for it, and I’d like to remember the way I made it last, here we are.

The only real secret for this bread is the cooking container. You need a $$6-8$$ quart dutch oven or pot with a lid. Preferably made of cast iron (with or without enamel). If you don’t have one, they’re great and you should get one immediately. As a Tennessee resident, might I recommend Lodge? Their pots and pans are good and low-cost, and the raw cast-iron comes pre-seasoned. 1

## Ingredients

• $$3$$ cups ($$340$$ grams) King Arthur Bread Flour, plus extra during prep
• $$\frac{3}{8}$$ teaspoon ($$2-3$$ grams) instant yeast
• $$1 \frac{1}{4}$$ teaspoons ($$7$$ grams) table salt (if using Kosher salt, use $$9-10$$ grams)
• $$1 \frac{5}{8}$$ cups ($$385$$ grams) of water

Yes, I specify the brand and type of flour. Feel free to use whatever flour you want. Fair warning, though – you’ll probably want bread flour and not all-purpose flour. Rather than buy multiple flours, I tend to use King Arthur Bread Flour for everything unless it’s a special baking occasion. But that’s because I rarely bake desserts, although I have made some fantastic cookies using bread flour instead of AP flour.

## Stir and Wait

• Combine the flour, salt, yeast, and water in a bowl
• Stir until you have a dough. It will be “shaggy and sticky” (Bittman).
• Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and stick the bowl somewhere at room temperature. The wrap doesn’t need to be air tight, and you don’t need to worry too much about an exact temperature.
• Now you wait 12 - 24 hours.

The key ingredient here is time: you’re letting it do all the work for you. You want the dough to at least double in size and be covered with bubbles, but don’t stress too much. Give yourself somewhere between 12 and 24 hours and you’ll be fine. Alright, fine, if you need a real target, shoot for 18.

## Prep and Proof

If you’re following the Bittman recipe, now is when you would have to mess with the dough twice and use some flour-infused towels. Well, I ain’t got time for all that.

Throw some flour on a work surface (that’s a fancy name for a counter or table), throw some flour on top of the dough, and then cover your hands in flour. Then get the dough out of the bowl and on to the floured work surface. You might need to scrape the bowl, and you might need to add extra flour to your hands. 2

Work the dough (push, pull, smack, roll, whatever) and try and roll it into a ball-ish shape. It might be a little difficult, but we’re not trying to make a perfect sphere. The easiest way is kind of mush it down with your hands until you’ve got a round shape, fold the sides in, and then roll it around until it’s more like a ball. This should only take a few minutes (5 tops).

Throw some more flour in the bottom of the bowl, drop the dough on top of that, and loosely cover the bowl (you can reuse your plastic wrap from before).

In theory, you want to wait about 2 hours before putting the dough in the over, but if you’re in a hurry, you should be able to get by with an hour. I recommend waiting the whole 2 hours, but I’ll note that if you’re only going to wait an hour you can go ahead and start the pre-heating now (that’s in the next section).

## Bake

About an hour before you’re going to bake the bread, put your covered pot in your oven and set it to 450F. We want to preheat both the oven and the pot. You need to preheat for at least 45 minutes, but you can preheat longer if you wish.

When everything is ready to go, carefully take the pot out of the oven. (Seriously, be careful. I’ve burned myself multiple times at this point.) Take your dough and drop it into the pot, and then shake the pot a little to try and center the dough. Don’t try too hard. The dough is not going to be picture-perfect at this point. In fact, it might look downright scary. That’s OK.

Put the lid on the pot, put the whole thing in the oven, and wait 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake another 15-30 minutes until the bread is golden brown.

Take the bread out of the pot and put it on a rack to cool. If you’re worried that the bread isn’t finished, thump the top and the bottom. It should sound hollow.

The bread needs at least 15 minutes to cool. But if your self-control fails and you dive in before that, no one will blame you.

## References

Links used (or that you might want to check out):

Image credits: 3
1. I have no affiliation with Lodge, although I do have a couple pieces from them. I also love my Le Creuset.
2. All that flour keeps the dough from sticking. Bonus points for using less flour, but use what you need to be able to work with the dough easily.