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No Knead Bread

This crusty bread is so easy you'll never want store bought again!  


3 cups bread flour (I like 2 cups all-purpose and one cup sifted, but you can use any combination of flours in our pantry)

1/4 tsp instant yeast

1 tsp fine sea salt

1-1/2 cups warm water

**Covered pot (5 quart or larger cast iron/Pyrex/ceramic/enamel... needs to be able to withstand over an hour in a 450F oven)**

1. Mix all ingredients until the dough just comes together.  It will be a messy mix - don't worry about it, simply cover the bowl with plastic wrap (or use a large bowl with a cover) and put in a warm spot for 12-20 hours.  I mix mine the night before and bake in the morning, and more than once I've left it in the bowl for over 24 hours with no adverse effects on the quality or flavour.  

2. Wet your hands, remove from the bowl and place onto floured parchment paper.  Knead the dough a few times, shaping it into a ball.  If you used plastic wrap, lightly flour the bread ball and cover lightly with the same plastic wrap.  If you used a bowl and lid, you can lift the parchment paper and dough back into the bowl and cover with a towel.

3. Leave the dough to rise a further 2 hours or until doubled in size. About 30 minutes before the rise is finished, place the pot, with the lid on, into the oven and heat to 450F.  Once the oven and pot are to temperature, remove them from the oven and carefully remove the lid.  Lift the dough into the hot pot using the parchment paper.  Put the hot lid over the paper and the dough, making sure the edges of the paper are not caught inside with the bread.  

**Be very careful at this stage, it's easy to forget that the pot and lid are 450F!**

4. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on, and a further 15 minutes with the lid removed.  

5. Try as hard as you can to let it cool before tearing into it.

I usually don't have the time or patience to wait for the second rise, so I put the pot and lid in the cold oven to heat up as soon as the dough is shaped.   When the oven (and the pot) are to temp I pop it in the oven.

I often add a couple tablespoons of flax seed or oatmeal when I'm doing the first mix for a change of pace and texture.  You can also sprinkle seeds onto the top of the bread before baking.  

This bread should be eaten within 1-2 days of baking.  If the crust goes soft, place in a strong brown paper bag that you've wet - you want it covered in water but not so much that it's flimsy.  Pop the bread in the wet bag, roll it closed and put it straight in the oven at 350F until the bag is dried out.  You can also freeze the loaf, and do the brown bag method for a few minutes after it's thawed completely.  This little trick makes it seem as if it's just been baked!  But be warned, the crust will be even crustier after this, especially on the bottom.  Use a good bread knife but do so with caution! It's a tough loaf on the outside, soft and delicious on the inside.  My recommendation is tear it with your bare hands and eat it like it's your last...