Monday, May 8

One Bowl, No Knead, Crusty French Bread

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1-1/2 cups warm water (110-115F), divided
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
Directions are for use with a stand mixer. By-hand instructions are included in parenthesis.
  1. In mixing bowl of mixer (or large mixing bowl), drop yeast in 1/2 cup warm water, and mix in by hand with a wire whisk. As long as your water heater is set so that the hot water won't scald flesh, hot water straight from your tap should work. If it won't burn you, it won't kill yeast. Let the mixture sit in the bowl for 4 or 5 minutes, until yeast is dissolved.

  2. Add sugar, remainder of water (1 cup), and 2 cups of flour to the bowl; mix with mixer (or with wooden spoon) until smooth. Let stand for 10 minutes or so, until mixture rises and bubbles a little in the bowl.

  3. Measure in salt, oil, and 1/2 cup flour; mix. Continue adding flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and mixing it in until it is all added. When the mixture gets thick, you'll need to switch to a dough hook before adding more flour. (If you are making this by hand, keep using your wooden spoon and bulging biceps.)

  4. Dump the ball of dough on the countertop, but don't knead. Grease the mixing bowl with a little oil or shortening, going right over any flour or dough that is adhered to the side of the bowl. Return the ball of dough to the bowl and cover with a damp towel.

  5. Put the bowl of dough in a warm place and let rise until double, about one hour. A sunny window, the top of a stove that is being used for other cooking projects, or by a radiant heat source are all good places to let the dough rise. If none of these are available, don't worry. The dough will rise in any temperature that isn't freezing; it'll just take longer.

  6. Turn dough onto a floured surface and roll, push, and pull until you've shaped a 16 inch (or so) long loaf. Place the loaf on a greased baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. If your baking sheet is shorter than the loaf, you can place it diagonally to make it fit.

  7. Cover the loaf with the still damp towel and let rise until double, about 45 minutes.

  8. Make 6-8 diagonal slashes in the top of the loaf using a very sharp knife.

  9. Bake at 400F for 25-30 minutes or until nicely browned. Cool on wire rack.

  10. If you want to make two loaves, mix them separately, one right after the other, rather than doubling the recipe.
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