Stressed out about homemade bread? There is no knead to worry!

My love for my Dutch oven is well documented, and frankly a little weird.  I long for the day that Congress allows marriage between a person and their kitchen tools.  Dutchie and I would be so happy together.

Dutchie is a Martha Stewart dutch oven because well, that was the only company that had the exact blue color that I wanted.  I'm brand "loyal" like that...but you can get a less expensive version if you buy a Lodge product.  Lodge is a brand that is built to last, and still made in America.  You can find them online (omg, I love the green one), at Wal-Mart, I think Target, and I believe I've even seen them at Costco.  I'm guessing it would be a long hunt at Goodwill to track one of these down.  With the holidays coming up, a Dutch oven would be a great item to have on your wishlist.

Anyhoo, Dutchie and I decided to make some no-knead bread the other day to accompany some chicken soup.  I've made this multiple times ever since I read about it in Mother Earth News.  Apparently a few years ago (2007?  2008?), the NY Times ran an article on making artisan bread at home without a $10k fancy bread oven.  This recipe has been making it's way around the interwebs ever since.  And for good reason!  It's wickedly easy, and the result is fantastic.

It's been a year or so since I've made this, so I'm curious as to at what point in the last year, Troy added this very helpful ingredient
Oy, poor Jack.  With a mom who hits on guys in front of him, and a dad who writes fart jokes on recipes, this child is doomed.

Never fear if you're fresh out of farts, this recipe will still come off without a hitch.

No-Knead Dutch Oven Bread
Courtesy of Mother Earth News
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cup of warm water (I usually aim for about 110 degrees)
3 cups of flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 tsp of salt
I'm adding vital wheat gluten if using whole wheat

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water
Add the flour and salt.  If using whole wheat flour, use 1 tblsp of vital wheat gluten per cup of whole wheat.  The vital wheat gluten is vital (HA!) to helping your bread rise and not turn in to a dense hockey puck.  Stir the ingredients until just combined.  It will look ugly and shaggy.  That's ok.
Cover with plastic wrap.  Given the fruit fly orgies that have been taking place in my kitchen lately, I also covered the bowl with a cutting board to prevent my bread from becoming the staging area for a fruit fly reinactment of Caligula.  And no, my cutting board isn't dirty.  It's stained orange from all the carrots I've cut on it over the years.
Allow the the bowl sit for a minimum of 8 hours, but 12-18 are preferable.  I start this process the night before I want to eat the bread.  You're supposed to let it sit somewhere that is about 70 degrees, but I'm too cheap to pay to heat the house to 70 degrees.  Someone once told me that putting the bowl in the oven with the light on and the door closed will maintain a temp around 70 degrees.  Someone also once told me that if your hand was smaller than your face, then you had cancer.  So sometimes "someones" aren't reliable resources.  Regardless, I've never had a problem with this dough rising in temps under 70 degrees.
Flour a work surface, and remove the dough from the bowl.  Sprinkle the dough with flour, and fold it over itself once or twice.  Cover loosely with the plastic wrap from the bowl, and let it rest for about 15 minutes.
Flour your hands, and shape the dough in to a ball.  Generously coat a towel with flour or cornmeal and put the seam of the dough down on the towel, dust with more flour, and cover with the rest of the towel.  Allow to rise for 1-2 hours.
At least 20 minutes before the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 475 degrees and put your covered dutch oven (or other high-temperature baking dish) in to the oven to preheat.  I like to put parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal in the bottom of the oven before setting it in the oven.

After the oven comes to the proper temperature, remove your baking dish and uncover.  Then, slide your hand under the towel, and carefully put the dough into the pot, seam side up.
Cover and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the lid, and then bake another 15 ish minutes. 

Remove the bread without burning your hands on the pot that is the temperature of lava, and let the loaf cool on a wire rack for about a hour.
Want to serve this with something extra special?  Consider trying flavored butters.

Flavored butters are so easy.  If you want to go the sweet route, simply blend cold chunks of butter and honey in a food processor. 
You can also do butter and fresh herbs like chives, garlic, and parsley for a savory version.

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