French Bread - Easy No-Knead Recipe

You will need a scale to get the perfect proportion of water to flour, and a covered baking pan large enough to hold the risen loaf. A dutch oven or oval roaster are perfect. The pan can be glass, metal, ceramic or whatever. The idea is to trap the steam of the rising loaf for a good crispy crust.

750 grams lukewarm water

1-1/2 TB granulated yeast

1-1/2 TB kosher, or other coarse salt

1000 grams white bread flour

In a large bowl, stir together water, yeast and salt. Add half of the flour and stir well. Add the remaining flour and stir until all the flour is moistened. The dough may be lumpy and irregular at this point. That's fine. Just cover loosely and leave out to rise at room temperature for about 2 hours. More or less is fine. Cover bowl tightly and place in refrigerator overnight, or for up to 7 days. 

When you are ready to bake a loaf, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Prepare a cutting board or pizza peel with a generous handful of flour, spread out over the surface. Flour your hands and reach into the bowl to grab about 1/3 of the dough and cut off with a sharp knife. Form this dough in to a nice ball (or oval, depending on the shape of your baking pan), adding flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to your hands. Place the loaf on the floured surface, sprinkle with some flour on top and cover loosely. Leave the dough to rise for 1 or 2 hours at room temperature. 

About 30 minutes before baking, heat your covered baking dish in 450 degree oven. When pan is very hot, remove from the oven, take off the lid and slide your loaf into the pan. Use a sharp knife or razor to cut slashes in the top of the loaf. Cover the pan and return to the oven. Bake covered for 15 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the loaf is well-browned and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Cool loaf on a rack.

This recipe makes 3 loaves. You may bake them all at once, or save the dough in the refrigerator for up to a week, baking one loaf at a time.

Note: To build up a sourdough, leave a very small amount of the dough from your last loaf in the bowl and use the bowl again, without washing, for your next batch of dough.

© Kelly's Cookbook 2017