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No-Knead Artisan Bread

No-Knead Artisan Bread
Adapted slightly from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

3 cups warm water 
1 1/2 tbsp. active dry yeast
1 1/3 leveled tbsp. salt
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl, add water and stir in yeast. Allow yeast to bloom for 5 minutes. Yeast mixture should be foamy and bubbly. In a separate bowl, combine flour and salt. Stir to blend. Add flour mixture (minus 1/2 cup) to the yeast mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon to incorporate. The dough consistency desired should be sticky but stretches when pulled. If dough is too wet, add flour, a couple tablespoons at a time. If dough is at too dry, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time. 

                           yeast blooming                            bread dough should be sticky,                           proofed bread dough
                                                                                  smooth, and stretches when pulled

Scrape dough off sides of the bowl. Grease the underside of a large plastic wrap. Cover bowl with wrap and cut several slits for circulation. Place in a warm area and allow to proof or rise for at least 2 and up to 5 hours. The dough should at least doubled in size and be sticky and elastic. At this point it could be baked right away or refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. 

To bake right away, prep oven. Place a broiler pan on the bottom rack of the oven. If using a baking stone, place on rack positioned in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven at 450 F. Preheat stone at that temperature for at least 20 minutes prior to baking. If using a baking sheet, place it (inverted) on the middle rack 10 minutes prior to baking.

Place a sheet of parchment paper on an inverted baking sheet (rim side down). Using well-floured hands, divide dough into two equal halves. Working with one of the halves at a time, place dough onto a well-floured work surface. Shape the dough into a loaf, stretching surface slightly, with the seam side down. Add more flour, if needed, to hands and work surface if dough sticks. Place loaf on top of the parchment paper. Allow dough to rest, uncovered or lightly covered, for 40 minutes. After resting, dust surface with flour and make 3 to 4 large horizontal slashes on top. Picking up the entire inverted baking sheet, slide parchment paper and dough onto the baking stone or baking sheet. Pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler pan and immediately close the oven door. Bake until bread is crusty and well browned, about  26-30 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Makes 2 loaves.

Note: Refrigerated dough needs to rest at room temp for 1 1/2 hour for the second rise.