I just had to post this super easy bread recipe! It's SO easy that I'm letting Kyle show you how it's done. It makes the most wonderful loaf of bread. A nice chewy, crisp crust and tender crumb that is full of holes (just like a good ciabatta!) It looks like a rustic artisan bread, and your friends and family will be amazed...but it's up to you to tell them the truth that this bread is almost effortless to make!
The original recipe is from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery, in New York City. Link from NYT is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/081mrex.html?ex=1172293200&en=2da93266a90f723f&ei=5070
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
1 5/8 C. water
Mix flour, yeast and salt together. Add your water and stir until it is all incorporated.
Dough will be moist and sticky.
Cover with plastic wrap and set aside on your counter. Leave dough alone for at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours. You know the dough is ready when it is dotted with bubbles. This picture is when the dough was 20 hours old:
Turn your dough out onto a baking pan dusted with a combo of flour and cornmeal, it gives the bread a nice crunch using that combo! Loosely shape into a rectangle (dough will be very sticky!).
Then fold over each end:
Finally, fold in half:
Leave the dough alone for two hours. During the last thirty minutes of this second rise, heat your oven. The hotter the better...anywhere from 450-500 degrees.
The secret to this great bread is the manner of baking. The article suggests a covered, enameld, cast iron baking dish. I don't have one of those, so I just use my Pyrex Corningware. Whatever you use, IT MUST HAVE AN OVEN SAFE LID! Put your dish in the oven to heat up as well. You want your dish to be screaming hot when you put the bread in!
Put your bread in seam side up, put the lid on and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and brown up to 20 more minutes.
And voila, the finished loaf....wish you could smell it!
I've tried variations on this recipe and it ALWAYS comes out great! We add chopped herbs (rosemary is our favorite!), cheeses, flax seeds, and different flours and we have never been disappointed. Although, if you do use a different flour, only substitute one cup of the three. For example, if you want to do this bread in whole wheat, put two cups white and one cup of whole wheat. Otherwise it's too heavy and you don't get that nice oven spring!