Quick No Knead Crusty Bread

I bake a lot of bread because if J could choose one food to eat exclusively, it would be bread (followed closely by cheese). I have a classic no knead bread recipe that I use all the time–it’s foolproof and produces an amazing loaf every time. That recipe is not this one, haha. But this one is good in that it produces a great loaf in a shorter amount of time if you’re crunched for time!

We invited my sister-in-law and her boyfriend for dinner and board games one night and I had planned to make my normal crusty bread with soup and pasta. I totally forgot to prepare the starter the night before though and had to improvise last minute. That’s when I found this recipe for a no knead crusty bread. While I do like the other one slightly better, this one is quick and easy and still produces a great loaf of crusty bread. We also left half of the starter in the fridge to develop and baked it off after 6 days. It has a wonderful flavor after sitting and fermenting!

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups (680g) lukewarm water
  • 6 1/2 – 7 1/2 cups (907g) unbleached all purpose flour
  • Scant 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (14g) instant or active dry yeast

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Mix and stir everything together to make a very sticky, rough dough. If you have a stand mixer, beat at medium speed with the beater blade for 30 to 60 seconds. If you don’t have a mixer, just stir until everything is combined.
  3. Next, you’re going to let the dough rise. If you’ve made the dough in a plastic bucket, you’re all set — just let it stay there, covering the bucket with a lid or plastic wrap. If you’ve made the dough in a bowl that’s not at least 6-quart capacity, transfer it to a large bowl; it’s going to rise a lot. 
  4. Cover the bowl or bucket, and let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 hours. Then refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, or for up to about 7 days. (If you’re pressed for time, skip the room-temperature rise, and stick it right into the fridge). The longer you keep it in the fridge, the tangier it’ll get; if you chill it for 7 days, it will taste like sourdough. Over the course of the first day or so, it’ll rise, then fall. That’s OK; that’s what it’s supposed to do.
  5. When you’re ready to make bread, sprinkle the top of the dough with flour; this will make it easier to grab a hunk. Grease your hands, and pull off about 1/4 to 1/3 of the dough — a 14-ounce to 19-ounce piece, if you have a scale. It’ll be about the size of a softball, or a large grapefruit.
  6. Plop the sticky dough onto a floured work surface, and round it into a ball, or a longer log.
  7. Place the loaf on a piece of parchment (if you’re going to use a baking stone); or onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sift a light coating of flour over the top; this will help keep the bread moist as it rests before baking.
  8. Let the loaf warm to room temperature and rise; this should take about 60 minutes (or longer, up to a couple of hours, if your house is cool). It won’t appear to rise upwards that much; rather, it’ll seem to settle and expand. Preheat your oven to 450°F while the loaf rests. If you’re using a baking stone, position it on a middle rack while the oven preheats. Place a shallow metal or cast iron pan (not glass, Pyrex, or ceramic) on the lowest oven rack, and have 1 cup of hot water ready to go.
  9. When you’re ready to bake, take a sharp knife and slash the bread 2 or 3 times, making a cut about 1/2″ deep. The bread may deflate a bit; that’s OK, it’ll pick right up in the hot oven.
  10. Place the bread in the oven — onto the baking stone, if you’re using one, or simply onto a middle rack, if it’s on a pan — and carefully pour the 1 cup hot water into the shallow pan on the rack beneath. It’ll bubble and steam; close the oven door quickly.
  11. Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, until it’s a deep, golden brown.
  12. Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack. Store leftover bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.

Adapted from King Arthur Flour.

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