Since I first shared this innovation—the word “recipe” does not do the technique justice—in the New York Times in 2006, thousands of people have made it. For many, it was their first foray into bread baking, the one that showed that the process isn’t scary, although the end result is so good that experienced bakers too have tried and fallen in love with it. It came from Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City, who created a way to make a spectacular loaf at home, with a crackling crust, open-holed crumb, light texture, and fantastic flavor—all with next to no hands-on time. Perhaps the best sign of a good recipe: many have tinkered with it endlessly. I’ve listed a few of my favorite ideas for no-knead dough below and on the next page, but don’t stop there. You can even use it for pizza.A wet dough and slow fermentation are the keys to success; almost by magic, they take the place of kneading. You’ll also notice the unique baking method—a heated covered pot—which creates essentially an oven within an oven to trap steam as the bread bakes. I’m not kidding when I say the results will blow your mind.The only thing required is forethought. Ideally, you will start the dough about 24 hours before you plan to eat it; you can cut that to 12 and even 9 (see the first variation), but you’ll be sacrificing some of the yeasty flavor and open crumb.—Mark BittmanText excerpted from HOW TO BAKE EVERYTHING © 2016 by Mark Bittman. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
Faster No-Knead Bread: Reduce the initial rise to 8 hours; skip the 15-minute resting period in Step 2 and then shape the dough in Step 3. Proceed immediately to Step 4.
Whole Wheat No-Knead Bread: Substitute whole wheat flour for up to 2 cups of the all-purpose flour. You won’t get quite as much rise, and the bread will be slightly denser but full flavored.