I think I'm probably the last person in the universe to get on board with this recipe, but in my defense, I DID give it a try when it first came out and it was a disaster. I think I was using a pot that was too big for the bread or something, but what came out was less than appetizing. However, in the back of my mind, I always knew the bread had to be something special and indeed, over the years I would revisit the recipe and the article and dream of crackling crusts and airy interiors. After I picked up a little slab of pate from the Farmer's Market on Saturday, I decided to give it another go. Pate would go much better on a more rustic bread than the sandwich type breads my bread machine turns out (not that I'm knocking those breads, they're damn delicious). Second time must have been the charm because lo!
The lighting on this came out weird, and I probably patted an excessive amount of flour on the surface because the dough was so sticky, but all in all it turned out well I think. I do agree with Cook's Illustrated that the bread itself was rather flavorless so this Saturday I will mix up another loaf using their adjusted recipe. It will be perfect with the next little slab of pate I pick up.
No Knead Bread adapted from Mark Bittman (I made half of this because my pot was smallish)
3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 5/8 cup water
cornmeal or bran if using (I didn't have this so I just used flour to dust)
Combine flour yeast salt. Add water and mix into shaggy dough. Cover and let rise at room temperature (70 degrees) for 12-18 hours (I forgot about it so it went for about 24 hours).
Flour fingers and work surface to keep dough from sticking and shape the dough into a ball. Put dough seam side down on a floured towel (I regretted doing this bc now my towel is all floury. No need for towel I think). Cover with another towel and let rise for 2 hours.
Half an hour before baking, stick your pot in the oven and heat to 450 degrees (the article actually says 500, so I will try that next time). When dough is ready, drag pot out from oven, plop dough in, put the lid on and stick back in oven. Bake for 30 minutes, remove lid and bake for another 15-30 min (so top is brown). Cool on rack.