No-Knead Country Bread

makes one large 10-inch round loaf

800 grams (about 5 1/2 cups) bread flour

15 grams (about 1 Tablespoon) kosher salt

2 grams (1/2 teaspoon) active dry yeast

600 grams (2 2/3 cups) cool water (55º to 65º F) 

Wheat bran and additional flour for dusting

In a large bowl or gallon container, stir together the flour, salt, and yeast.  Using a wooden spoon, add the water and mix until you have a wet, sticky dough, about 30 seconds.  It should be very sticky to the touch and the flour should be completely incorporated; if not, mix in another tablespoon or two of water.  Lightly cover the bowl or container with a towel, plastic wrap, or by gently placing the lid on top without sealing.  Let sit at room temperature (about 72º F) out of direct sunlight until the surface is doubled in size with bubbles, about 12 and up to 18 hours.  

Generously dust a work surface with flour.  Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough into one mound on top of the floured surface.  It will be loose and sticky.  Using floured hands or a bowl scraper, lift the outside edges toward the center, working around the entire piece to make a smooth round.

Lay a thin cotton or linen tea towel (not terry cloth, which tends to stick) or a large cloth napkin on your work surface.  Generously sprinkle the surface of the towel with flour and wheat bran.  Using your hands or scraper, gently lift the dough on to the prepared towel and place seam side down.  Dust the top of the dough with more flour and wheat bran.  Cover the dough with the sides of the towel and place in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours.  The dough is ready when almost doubled in size.

Half an hour before the end of the second rise, place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 475º F and place a 5-quart heavy pot or cast iron dutch oven with a tight fitting lid in the center of the rack.

When the dough is ready to bake, carefully remove the HOT dutch oven from the oven using oven mitts; remove the lid.  Unfold the towel, gently slide your hand under the dough and quickly, but gently invert the dough into the hot pot.  If any dough clings to the top or sides unevenly, quickly run an off-set spatula or knife around the edges to even.  The dough will eventually even itself out while baking.  Using oven mitts, place the hot lid back on the pot and return to the oven.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Using oven mitts, remove the hot lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep, golden brown, about 15-30 minutes more.  Remove from the oven.  Using a thin handle of a spatula, carefully lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool completely before slicing, about 2 hours, preferably warm.  Slicing into the loaf too early will result in a gummy texture.  Rewarm and eat bread for dinner or toast for breakfast.  Enjoy! 

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