bread making for novices

that old that saying "give a man a fish and feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime" is very applicable here. bread is something we all eat, usually daily, but seldom know how to make, or make well. i had never ventured into bread making, save for the occasional banana bread, until i read this NYT article last year. after the article, it seemed like every blog i read was raving about this bread, and STILL it took it me over a year to make it. i'm feeling so guilty about all that time i wasted.

for those of you who want to impress- this is the recipe for you. it bakes up a deep brown, with a bakery-worthy crust and holes galore in the crumb. for those of you who are lazy, and who want the luxury of eating warm, fresh bread, without going to the store on a rainy sunday- this is the recipe for you. i feel guilty for not giving the recipe to you sooner, so that you could have the bread baking and the smell wafting from the kitchen while you watched that game-winning play last night- a perfect evening. and lastly, for those of you, like me, deeply intimidated by the whole "art" of bread-making, this is the recipe for you. it is perfectly foolproof and shockingly easy. so easy in fact i'm a little sorry i'm sharing it with you now; i've burst the bubble and when you come over next time and i serve it to you, you'll have made it too and know what a cinch it is. at least i hope so.

No-Knead Bread from the NYT, adapted

3 cups all purpose or bread flour (you can find some great varieties here)
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon salt (i used rosemary salt)
cornmeal as needed

combine yeast, salt, flour and 1 and 1/2 cups water until just blended. this takes about 5 stirs with a wooden spoon. don't worry if it looks wet, or still flour-y. i've made this bread twice now and the second time i added fresh chopped rosemary too. i imagine you can add all sorts of things; i'm going to try some salty olives next time.

once combined, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rest about 18 hours, although i've done it up to 20.

lightly flour work surface and turn bowl upside down. dough should be very sticky. wet your hands and turn the over on itself once or twice, so there is a smooth part and a seam. place the dough ball seam side down on a kitchen towel dusted with cornmeal, dust top of dough with cornmeal, place another kitchen towel on it and let it rest for another 2 to 2 1/2 hours. while dough is resting, heat your oven to 475F and place a heavy covered pot in it. i use my 4.5 quart le creuset and it works perfectly. when the dough is rested and the pot is screaming hot, just dump the dough into the pot. that's it.
cover and bake for 30 mins. uncover and bake for another 15. this is SO worth it.
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