Editor’s note: Rachel sent us this recipe a few months ago, but we waited  for the weather to cool down before publishing it, figuring more home cooks would be willing to turn on their ovens now than in August. It’s one of several variations on this very popular loaf that we’ve received from readers. 

What I’ve been cooking is gratitude. I am a long time bread baker. When the pandemic broke out, we were heartened to have neighbors in our apartment building sending us notes and messages offering us help. They offered kind words, regular grocery runs, a spot for our car, hand sanitizer, concern, six-foot outdoor visits over coffee, our Sunday paper right outside our door, humor, hope, love and so much more. I had plenty of yeast since I buy it by the pound but not much flour. Thanks to Micucci’s, flour became abundant. Ten pounds a week. Beautiful warm loaves regularly hung on the doors of my neighbors and now dear friends in gratitude for their many efforts on our behalf.” — RACHEL HENDERSON, Portland

No-Knead Bread

Yield: 1 loaf

Henderson got this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. She changed it slightly, writing, “I prefer the added flavor from a bit more beer.”

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon instant or rapid rise yeast

1 ½ teaspoon table salt

½ cup water

¾ cup mild flavored beer (no dark beer!)

1 tablespoon white vinegar

Whisk flour, yeast, and salt together in a large bowl. Add the water, beer and vinegar. Using a rubber spatula, fold the mixture scraping up the dry flour from bottom of bowl until a shaggy ball forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough sit at room temp for 12 to 18 hours (overnight). If you want to make the bread more quickly, increase the yeast to 1 tablespoon and let the dough rest for 5 or 6 hours.

Lay a piece of parchment paper (about a 12- x 18-inches) in a 10-inch skillet or bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead about 10 times until it comes together in a ball. Place seam side down in the skillet or bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise about 2 hours. Slash the top with a very sharp knife (or razor blade) after it has risen.

Thirty minutes before you are ready to bake the bread, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place a 4 to 6 quart dutch oven in the oven and let it get hot. Remove from the oven and carefully place the dough in the pot using the paper as a ‘handle’ – both paper and dough go in the pot. Put the lid on the dutch oven and place in the oven. Reduce the temperature to 425 degrees F and bake with the cover on for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake until the loaf is dark brown, another 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pot and cool on a wire rack.

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