The combination of flour, salt, yeast, and water is a magical one, producing a variety of loaves that grace dinner tables around the world. Still, there is something extra special in this no- knead bread, inspired by the original recipe by Jim Lahey, the bread maestro behind New York City’s Sullivan Street Bakery. Even the most intimidated bread baker can feel confident using Lahey’s method, which requires little work but a bit of time. Here the rise time is slightly increased, with an easier way to get the sticky dough into a hot cocotte, the ideal bread-baking vessel because its steam creates a crispy crust.
3 cups bread flour, plus more for the work surface
2 teaspoons salt
1⁄4 teaspoon active dry yeast
11⁄3 cups lukewarm water, plus more as needed
In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and yeast. Pour in the lukewarm water and, using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture until it comes together into a sticky dough. If it isn’t sticky, add more water, a couple tablespoons at a time, to get there. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and keep in a draft-free place for 18 to 24 hours.Lightly flour a work surface. Gently remove the dough from the bowl onto the work surface. Form the dough into a ball, gently tucking the sides of the dough under. Place the dough onto a large piece of parchment paper. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise for 1 to 2 hours, until doubled in size.Preheat the oven to 475°F. Place a medium cast- iron cocotte into the oven while it preheats.When the cocotte is hot, carefully remove it from the oven. Using the parchment paper sides as handles, gently lower the dough into the cocotte. Cover the cocotte, place it into the oven, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the bread is golden brown in color. Remove the bread from the cocotte and allow to cool for 1 hour before slicing and serving.