No-Knead Artisan Free-Form Loaf from “The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.”
Each loaf will average five minutes of active preparation time. Makes enough dough for four loaves, slightly less than 1 pound each.
Learn to bake this loaf in a crock pot here.
* 3 cups lukewarm water, about 100º F (1½ pounds)
* 6½ cups all-purpose flour (2 pounds), measured by the “scoop-and-sweep” method
* 1 package regular or instant granulated yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
* Cornmeal or parchment paper for the pizza peel
* 1½ tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt (can decrease to 1 tablespoon to taste)
1. In a 5-quart container, mix yeast, water and salt. Add the flour, then use a spoon, stand mixer or high-capacity food processor to mix until uniform.
2. Cover (not airtight) and allow to rise at room temperature for about two hours.
3. The dough can be shaped and baked the day it’s mixed, or refrigerated in a lidded container (not airtight) for up to 14 days. The dough is easier to work with after three hours refrigeration.
4. Prepare a pizza peel with cornmeal or parchment paper. Sprinkle the surface of the dough with flour. Cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit size) piece of dough. Cover the remaining dough and refrigerate for baking loaves within 14 days.
5. Sprinkling with more flour to prevent sticking, shape a smooth ball with your hands by gently stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating as you go. Shaping should take no more than 20 to 40 seconds.
6. Place dough on prepared pizza peel and allow to rest 60 minutes. Loaf may not rise much during this time.
7. Thirty minutes before baking, preheat a pizza stone near the center of oven to 450º F, with a metal broiler pan on a low rack.
8. When the dough has rested for 60 minutes, dust the top liberally with flour, then use a serrated knife to slash a ½-inch-deep cross.
9. Slide the loaf off the peel and onto the baking stone. Pour 1 cup hot water into broiler tray, and close oven door.
10. Bake about 30 minutes, or until crust is richly browned and firm to touch. Allow to cool completely before eating.
© 2013, Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë Francois, adapted from “The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” (St. Martin’s Press). Click here for more information.