From The New York Times: “Here is one of the most popular recipes The Times has ever published, courtesy of Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery. It requires no kneading. It uses no special ingredients, equipment or techniques. And it takes very little effort — only time. You will need 24 hours to create the bread, but much of this is unattended waiting, a slow fermentation of the dough that results in a perfect loaf.”
This recipe has been modified to be used with a sourdough starter rather than instant yeast. To see the original measurements using yeast, scroll down to the bottom of the page. The directions don’t change.
450 grams flour
285 grams water (up to 1 3/4 cup)
60 grams sourdough starter
9 grams salt
In a large bowl combine all ingredients and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees. The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles.
Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Lay out a piece of parchment paper or generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on the parchment paper or towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, the dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in the oven as it heats. When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into the pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if the dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.
Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
If using instant yeast packets:
- 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
- ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
- Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.
The directions for making the bread are the same, whether using instant yeast or a sourdough starter.