The Best Bread Yet
I came up with this version by combining two sources. The first is from “The French Farmhouse Cookbook,” by Susan Herrman Loomis. The second is from a N.Y. Times article from 11/8/2006 by Mark Bittman about a no-knead bread made by “The Sullivan street bakery” in N.Y.C.
I'm satisfied that for myself; I've finally found it. So now, bearing in mind “de gustibus non est disputandum” (loosely: "matters of taste shouldn't be argued"), I humbly offer it.
This is an extremely easy bread to make. It is done in two basic parts. The first day the ingredients are combined. Then after letting it rise overnight, it is baked. The total amount of labor involved is about 5 minutes for the first part and 5 minutes for the second. That doesn't count keeping an eye on the baking.
- A 2-quart bowl
- A 2-quart cast-iron pot
- A wire rack big enough for the pot
- A wicker basket about 10 inches in diameter and 3 or 4 inches tall (Called banneton in French)
- 2 linen dish towels (NOT cotton)
- A spatula
- 5 cups flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking yeast, (Fleischman's Active Dry Yeast)
- 2 cups cool water
I usually start around noon.
- Mix together all the dry ingredients thoroughly (about 2 minutes).
- Add 2 cups of water. Mix thoroughly. (About another 2 minutes.)
- Cover the bowl and place in a warm spot till the next morning.
- The next morning, while waiting for the coffee water to boil, I spread one of the linen towels in the wicker basket, and dust the bottom with either flour, or sesame seeds, or cornmeal.
Cooking the Bread
- A half an hour into that hour turn on the oven, placing the iron pot and lid in the oven.
- Set the temperature to 450 degrees.
- After the hour is up, turn the heat own to 425 degrees.
- Take the pot out of the oven, place it on the wire rack and place the lid nearby safely.
- In a conventional oven, I put a cookie sheet on the rack under the pot to keep the bottom from getting over-done. Bake for one hour. OR
- In a convection oven bake at 425 for 45 minutes. (Cookie sheet not needed).
- After it's done, dump the bread out onto the wire rack, turn it right-side up, and let it cool thoroughly before slicing. (Otherwise it doesn’t slice well.)