This bread recipe, from Sullivan Street Bakery in downtown New York, makes the simplest, most delicious homemade bread I have ever tasted. It goes with pretty much everything – it will suit for crusty or chewy bread and is as close as you can get to sourdough without the faff of a starter. You will need to begin the night before.
Makes 1 x 23cm round loaf.
You will need a 23cm cast-iron or ceramic pot with a lid.
430g strong white flour
¼ tsp fast-action dried yeast
1¼ tsp salt
Olive oil, for brushing
Extra flour, for dusting
Mix the flour, yeast and salt in a mixing bowl.
Add 345ml water and mix with a wooden spoon for 1 minute until you have a shaggy dough.
Lightly coat the inside of another medium bowl with olive oil and place the dough in it.
Cover with cling wrap and let the dough rest for between 12 and 18 hours at room temperature.
Remove the dough from the bowl and fold it once or twice. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes in the bowl or on the work surface.
Next, shape the dough into a ball. Generously coat a tea towel with flour or polenta, and place the dough seam-side down on the towel. Dust with flour.
Cover with a tea towel and let it rise for 1–2 hours at room temperature, until it has more than doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 230°C, placing the cooking pot inside.
Once the dough has more than doubled in size, remove the pot from the oven and place the dough inside the pot, seam-side up.
Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the lid and bake for a further 15–30 minutes uncovered, until the loaf is nicely browned.
Leave in the pot until it is cool enough to handle — at least 10 minutes. Then turn it out onto a wire rack and
let it cool a little more before you slice it.
Best eaten within a couple of days.