You can use sourdough starter in this recipe. To do that, place about 1/4 cup (50 g) starter in a measuring cup and add enough water to measure 1 1/2 cups. Stir to combine the starter with the water and add to the dry ingredients. I also add 1/4 teaspoon of yeast to the flour just to make sure the dough rises. If you’re confident in your starter, skip the yeast, and use 1 cup (200 g) starter. Just add it to the water, stir to combine, then add the combination to the flour.
Adapted from Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread recipe.
- 4 cups (480g) all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping the dough
- 1 teaspoon instant (“rapid rise”) yeast or active dry yeast dissolved in water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 cups room temperature water
- About 1/4 cup cornmeal or all-purpose flour for the final rise
- Dutch oven
1 Mix the dough: In a large bowl, whisk the flour, yeast, and salt until combined. Make a well in the flour and pour the water into it. Mix together with your hands or a spoon until all the flour is incorporated. The dough will be soft and sticky.
You can also mix this quickly in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and let the dough rise in the mixer bowl.
2 Let the dough rise: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 8 to 24 hours; overnight is best.
After the first rise, the dough can be refrigerated. Stretch and fold the edges in toward the center to make a ball, which deflates the dough and redistributes the yeast. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and store in the fridge for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before using.
3 Line a baking sheet with parchment paper: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper cut to a 15-inch square (approximately) and sprinkle it generously with cornmeal or flour.
4 Shape the dough: On a generously floured work surface turn out the dough. Using floured hands, reach under one side of the dough and stretch and fold it over the top of the dough toward the center. Rotate it 1/4 turn and repeat. Repeat this 2 to 4 times. This deflates the dough and gives it better structure.
Pat the dough into a thick square, and bring all four corners toward the center to form a ball that is smooth on the bottom. Pinch the ends together firmly. Turn the dough over and, with cupped hands, shape it into a round with a smooth top.
5 Let the dough rise again: Place the dough on the prepared parchment paper with the seam side down. If you like, sprinkle it with about 1 rounded teaspoon of flour and smooth it over the top of the loaf with your fingers. Cover loosely with a cloth napkin or dishtowel. Let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the dough has approximately doubled in size and feels puffy and light to the touch.
6 Heat the Dutch oven: About 45 minutes before the loaf is ready to be baked, position a rack in the lower third of the oven and set the oven to 500ºF degrees. Place an empty 5-quart cast iron or enameled cast iron pot with a lid in the oven and heat it until ready to bake.
If your Dutch oven's knob is not metal, cover the knob with foil to protect it.
7 Score the dough: When the dough has risen, using a bread scoring or serrated knife make one large slash 1/2-inch deep across the center of the top of the loaf. Make 2 smaller slashes, each progressively smaller, on each side of the central slash, for a total of 5 cuts.
8 Bake the loaf: Remove the pot from the oven and remove the lid. Carefully lift the parchment and place the loaf in the pot. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to press the parchment into the sides of the pan if it is not flat. Place the lid on the pot.
Bake the bread for 30 minutes.
9 Reduce the heat and continue baking: Turn the oven down to 450º F and remove the lid. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes longer, or until the top is browned.
If you like, you can use an instant-read thermometer to test the internal temperature of bread; it should register from 190º to 210ºF when the bread is done.
Total baking time is 50 to 55 minutes.
10 Transfer the bread to a rack to cool: With a metal spatula, carefully lift the bread out of the pot and transfer it to a rack to cool completely. Do not cut into the bread until it is thoroughly cool! I know, it’s hard to resist, but it continues to bake and set as it cools.