I made fucking bread today. Which means that literally anyone can make bread, because this is maybe the fourth time I've ever baked anything in my life. All you really need is a heavy covered pot that fits in an oven that goes up to 200C/400F.
I used the Bittman/Lahey no-knead recipe that was popularized here, and was updated to a quick 4-hour version with this video here, all run through El Carote Negro's experience filter. Below is what I did. My crust was perfect (t-shirt slogan?), my crumb was decent, I had difficulties cooking the very center, and the whole thing was just ever so slightly on the heavy side, there wasn't much of a rise. I have a feeling it's because it's cold in here, 61F.
Anyway, whatever: in the end it was definitely real bread, baked by me, with very little effort. I give it a solid 7.5 when fresh out of the oven and buttered lavishly.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 and 1/4 tsp salt
1 and 5/8 cups hot water (not boiling, slightly less hot than dish-washing temperature)
1/4 tsp red wine vinegar (i used balsamic b/c that's all i had)
1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add the 1 5/8 cups water, and stir just until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 3 hours, or up to 5, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 30 minutes. When it is ready, dough will be about double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
This is an often-NSFW, mostly gluten-free kitchen notebook that also occasionally threatens to turn into something else and fails, thus remaining its same old cryptic and superficial self. These posts begin to fail to explain (start at the bottom).