by Caroline

So, remember how I told you about my new pet? The sourdough pet that I hoped would be the source of much delicious bread?

Well.

It was a little finicky.

I should have known when I set the cookbook down and waded into the virtual sea of blogs offering advice on how to feed and care for this particular style of homegrown sourdough pet. I tended mine for a couple weeks but it never turned into anything able to leaven bread and so I did, as I threatened I might, pour it down the drain.

And then I remembered another bread technique that had swept the internets in the last couple years and made a bestselling author of its creator: Jim Lahy’s Sullivan Street bakery no-knead bread, popularized by the fabulous Mark Bittman. I had looked at this recipe so many times since it was first published but rejected it for two reasons: I didn’t have the required 6-8 quart pan; I like to knead.

Well, duh.

I have two 3-quart pans.

And I figured I could knead the bread a little bit if I wanted to.

So I made it, and it’s wonderful.

I really (uncharacteristically) followed the recipe, exactly as written. I let it rise about 12 hours the first time I made it, more like 18 the second time, and that timing works well: mix up the dough before bedtime one night, and you’ll have fresh warm bread for dinner the next day. Your interaction with the dough is minimal — maybe 30 minutes total, depending on whether you knead it at all, but really, the dough is so soft it’s pretty impossible to knead, and the resulting bread is fabulous: crisp crust, tender crumb.

first look at the new dough

the dough after about 18 hours

very wet dough after its 15-minute rest

finished loaves with their baking pans

sliced bread

Not only does this recipe easily produce a delicious loaf (or two) of bread, but it gives you something you can’t get from a bakery: a house smelling of freshly baked bread. But if the long process puts you off, here’s another no-knead recipe that comes together much more quickly. It’s not a sourdough, but it’s a very tasty sandwich bread. Or want to avoid kneading and rising? Try a soda bread; Ben devised a recipe a few years back that works pretty well, too. So what are you waiting for? Make some bread this weekend!