My good blogfriend Karen inspired me to try this recipe after producing an excellent result herself. When she told me she was making a no-knead bread, I assumed she was making a batter bread, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this is no batter bread (I have nothing against batter breads per se; I'm just not a huge fan).
Karen's result was so gorgeous I had to try it, too. In fact, I've now tried it twice, once with white flour (bread flour, actually) and once with 100% whole wheat flour.
The recipe originally appeared in the New York Times, and I highly recommend you read the accompanying article because it gives you the scientific reason - in layman's terms - why this method of breakmaking works so well. Basically, you mix the dry ingredients with water and let the dough sit for a minimum of 18 hours. The gluten develops itself in this time, rather than being developed by kneading. Also, you bake this loaf in an oven-proof pot, or Dutch Oven, as this mimicks the conditions created in a commercial steam-injected oven. I've actually baked a loaf of bread in my KitchenAid cast iron Dutch Oven before, the Kazakh Family Loaf, and I had a great result.
The first time I made this recipe, I added some dried herb mixture to the dough and some parmesan cheese to the top. I had to add more water than the recipe called for because the initial amount wasn't enough to incorporate all the dry ingredients. I got an absolutely stunning result, and I couldn't wait to try this recipe again. Luckily, my dad needed bread and since I regularly make him 100% whole wheat bread (he hates white flour, though I notice he loved my pizza pretzels just fine) I offered to make it for him using this new method.
To the 100% whole wheat, though, I did add 1/4 tsp of gluten, because whole wheat flour is naturally low in gluten, and since the more gluten the better when it comes to bread baking, I thought a bit extra wouldn't hurt at all. And it didn't. Again, I got a fabulous loaf, though shorter and more dense. My dad was pretty happy.
The crust on both loaves was superb, and since there is a high water percentage in this recipe, the crumb was tight and the bread's texture was light and spongey and contained many lovely air bubbles.
All around, a fantastic recipe that even your kids can make, and it takes so little effort and comes out so beautifully, you'll never want to buy store-bought bread again. Trust me.
Thank you Karen!
Also, my fellow foodblogger the Underground Baker, did a post here (scroll way down) closer to when the recipe was first published. Her loaves are stunning, too.