I've held off posting about the now-famous "No-Knead Bread" recipe because everyone must know about and make this by now, right? I think the original recipe was printed in the New York Times around 2006 and it pretty much swept the nation. I have--truly--made this at least once a month ever since (once a month may not sound like a lot, but it's just me here and I don't even eat that much bread, so actually, for me, it's a lot!). Besides being no-knead, it's also super-easy because it only has three ingredients, plus water.
But now, I am ready to go on the record and announce that adding a fourth ingredient makes a HUGE DIFFERENCE! I'm sure this has been noted many times before, and probably even by Jim Lahey, who came up with the recipe in the first place. But for me, this fourth ingredient is new and revolutionary. Truth be told, the original recipe was getting a little boring.
So this is the difference, people: just add some oil! Suddenly you get a noticeably flakier crumb and crust, and if you use butter, well, it's buttery-tasting-er. I kind of want to eat it all the time.
3 cups flour
1+1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon yeast
1/4 - 1/2 cup oil (butter, olive oil, what have you)
warm water, as needed (about 1+1/2 - 2 cups)
Mix everything up until you get a smooth, if somewhat wet dough. (I manage this just fine with a wooden spoon.) Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 12 - 18 hours. Dump out on a floured surface and let rest for 20 minutes or so. Take a (clean!) dish towel and sprinkle with corn meal. Shape the dough into a ball and place on the dish towel. Let rise for another 1+1/2 - 2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, place a heavy lidded pot (cast iron or dutch oven) in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees. When the dough is done rising, lift up the corners of the dish towel and pour the dough into the pot. Put the lid on. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and let cook for another 15 minutes. Remove the bread from the pot and let cool on a wire rack. Try not to hack into it too soon!