My life has suddenly changed direction, due to a recipe I read in the New York Times’ Minimalist column, by Mark Bittman.

I’ve decided to spend the rest of the winter making and eating homemade bread every single day. I know there are lots of people who have turned their backs on bread in favor of a low-carb lifestyle, and all I can say is: don’t be crazy! It’s not too late to change! This bread will make you lose your mind.

The best part is, you don’t even have to knead it–not even for one tiny millisecond. All you do is combine the ingredients, and then let them sit for EIGHTEEN HOURS, and then you look at them, form the dough into a ball, let it rise for another two hours, and then bake it in a hot oven for about 45-60 minutes…and you won’t believe your eyes.

It looks like one of those loaves of bread that you might buy in a special bakery–only you didn’t have to leave the house. (Which, if I really do make this every single day, I’m sure I won’t be able to leave the house any more by the end of the winter!)

So, here’s the recipe:

Recipe: No-Knead Bread

November 8, 2006

Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. 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 rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. 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 minutes.

3. 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; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, 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 when poked with a finger.

4. 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 heats. 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.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.