Photograph by Johnny Miller Food Styling by Maggie Ruggiero Prop Styling by Theo Vamvounakis

Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread

Starters from Issue 4 – Fall / Winter 2014 – Cocoon

The loaves from New York’s Sullivan Street Bakery are the stuff of carb legend, so for a dough recipe we felt compelled to go to the bread trailblazer himself, Jim Lahey. Here, he shares the one for his much-loved, no-knead, long-fermented rustic bread.

makes One 10-inch round loaf; 1¼ pounds

  • 3 cups (400 grams) bread flour
  • 1 ¼ tsp (8 grams) table salt
  • ¼ tsp (1 gram) instant or other active dry yeast
  • 1 ⅓ cups (300 grams) cool (55 to 65°F) water
  • wheat bran, cornmeal or additional flour for dusting

  • An ovenproof 4 1⁄2 to 5 1⁄2-quart heavy pot (cast iron or enamel)

  • 1

    Stir together flour, salt, and yeast in a medium bowl. Stir in water with a wooden spoon until you have a wet, sticky dough, about 30 seconds. Make sure it’s really sticky to the touch; if not, mix in another 1 to 2 Tbsp of water. Cover bowl with a plate or plastic wrap and sit at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, until the surface is dotted with bubbles and dough more than doubles in size, 12 to 18 hours. This slow rise—fermentation—is the key to flavor.

  • 2

    Generously dust a work surface with flour. Scrape dough out in one piece. The dough will cling in long, thin strands and will be loose and sticky—do not add flour. Use lightly floured hands to lift the edges of dough in toward the center, tucking them in to make a round.

  • 3

    Place a tea towel (not terry) on your work surface and generously dust it with wheat bran, cornmeal, or flour. With floured hands gently transfer dough onto towel with seam side down. If the dough is tacky, dust the top lightly with the bran, cornmeal, or flour. Fold the towel loosely over the dough and place it in a warm, draft-free spot until almost doubled, 1 to 2 hours.

  • 4

    At least 30 minutes before the end of the second rise, preheat the covered pot on a rack in the lower third position in a 475°F pre-heated oven. Carefully remove the preheated pot and uncover it. Unfold the towel, lightly dust the dough with flour or bran, and quickly but gently invert it into the pot, seam side up. Cover the pot and bake 30 minutes.

  • 5

    Remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep chestnut color but not burnt, 15 to 30 minutes more. Very carefully lift the bread out of the hot pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly. Let cool at least 1 hour before eating.