If you have the patience to wait 24 hours for the dough to rise, you will be rewarded with the perfect loaf of bread.
Contributor: Heather Elder
Yields one 1 1/2 pound loaf of bread
• 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
• 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
• 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
• Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed
• In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt.
• Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky.
• Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
• Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles.
• Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice.
• Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 mins.
• Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface, or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball.
• Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal.
• Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back with poked with a finger.
• At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees.
• Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it hears.
• When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven.
• Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K.
• Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.
• Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned.
• Cool on a rack.
• Recipe by Mark Bittman found on cooking.nytimes.com