- 3 cups (425g) all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
- 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast*
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 cups (340g) warm water (about 110 degrees, like warm,not hot, bath water)
- In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy, sticky, and quite loose. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at room temperature.
- Dough will be dotted with bubbles and much looser/wetter than it was the day before. This is normal! Generously flour a work surface- I recommend parchment paper to make this process really simple, but you can also work on a cutting board or silicone mat and then transfer your dough to a piece of parchment before baking- and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and very gently fold it over on itself once or twice. If your dough is super loose here, like so loose you can’t even form it into a ball, it’s more of a blob, you can generously flour so it doesn’t stick to your hands. Let rest about 30 minutes.
- While dough is resting, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put a covered 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Pick up parchment paper with dough (blow off excess flour sitting on parchment if you need to) and place directly in pot. Cover with lid and bake 35-40 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 10-15 minutes, until loaf is golden and browned.
*Jim Lahey’s original recipe (featured in the NY Times, here) only uses 1/4 teaspoon yeast, whereas recipes dotting the internet often use up to a full teaspoon . I tested batches at 1/2 teaspoon all the way up to 1 teaspoon and did not find much difference in the finished loaves. So I usually use 1/2 teaspoon.
Jim’s original recipe also involves a second rise of 2 hours . I’ve found, along with the rest of the internet, that the quick 30 minute rest featured here works just fine, and I actually had better results with the 30 min rise than I did with the 2 hour one! But you can certainly make this a few times and play around with it- it’s a very flexible recipe.
You can also try add-ins like a handful of parmesan and some snipped herbs, etc.