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Crusty No-Knead Bread Recipe

Here's Graeme's very crusty and no-knead bread recipe. Requires an over-night rest, a camp oven or dutch oven or similar, and a very hot oven.

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm - not hot - water. This activates the yeast.

2. In another bowl combine the flour and salt making sure all the flour and salt is well blended.

3. Add the flour and salt to the water and dissolved yeast stirring until blended. The dough should be sticky and not wet. If you think it is too wet add a little more flour. If you do this often you will get a feel for how sticky the dough should be.

4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and then a tea towel. Let the dough rest overnight for at least 8 hours, preferably 12 or up to 18 hours, at warm room temperature, like a kitchen or on top of the fridge. I let mine sit over the top of the underbench dishwasher after dinner as this keeps it warm in winter.

5. The dough is ready when its surface is all bubbly. Lightly flour a bread board and place the dough on it. Sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself a couple of times. No need to knead it. At this point I sometimes cover with the plastic wrap and tea towel and to give it a rest for 15 minutes or so before the next step of shaping the dough it into a ball.

6. Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or to your fingers, gently shape it into a ball. Generously coat a clean tea towel with some flour, wheat bran or cornmeal. Put the seam side of the dough down on the towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Wrap the tea towel and let the dough rise for another 1 to 2 hours. You can tell when it’s ready for the oven when the dough has doubled in size and will not spring back when touched.

7. At least 20 minutes before the dough is ready, put a large heavy covered pot in the oven and heat to 250C. You can use a cast iron camp oven, like the ones pictured above, or an enamel covered backing dish. When the pot and oven and bread are ready using oven mittens or fireproof gloves carefully remove the very hot pot from the oven and lift off the lid. Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over into the pot, seam side up. Shake the pot and give it a quick swirl round to help distribute the dough.

8. Cover the pot with its lid and put it back in the oven and bake for 30 minutes at 250C. This covered pot generates humidity in the pot which gives the bread its crust. Remove the lid and bake another 15 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown. Remove the uncovered pot from the oven and let the bread rest in the pot for 1 minute. This extra minute in the pot helps the crust just that little bit and gives you some time to find the wire rack! After the minute rest remove the bread from the pot and let it cool on a rack for at least an hour before slicing. If you slice it before then it will be too soft to cut properly.

One of the major costs of this bread is the energy required to heat the oven - so I make two at once after finding an extra old camp oven. I slice up the bread after the end of the first day or so, if there is any left, and put it in the freezer to reheat or toast during the week.

Adapted for Willunga conditions and with some added explanation from a New York Times recipe for Dutch Oven No Knead Bread.

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