Photography by  Ann Cutting.

Photography by Ann Cutting.

Twenty-One Hour Boule

Also known as No-Knead Bread. Recipe adapted from Pure Vegan by Joseph Shuldiner, which is based in turn on a recipe from Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery in New York. There are so many versions of this because it is incredibly easy and delicious!

Makes one 2-lb. loaf.

Ingredients

  • 500 grams flour (resources here, here, and here)
  • 35 grams vital wheat gluten (optional—can be purchased at Whole Foods in a small blue box)
  • 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (buy at Smart & Final—the big box of yeast)
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 415 grams or more filtered, distilled water

Method

  • In a large bowl, combine flour, vital wheat gluten, yeast and salt; mix well.
  • At this point add in any other savory ingredients such as olives, walnuts, pecans, seeds, etc.
  • Add the distilled water and stir until well blended. The dough should be wet and fairly sticky.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest in a warm spot for 18 hours.
  • After its 18-hour rise, the dough will have at least doubled in volume and will have small bubbles for ming on the surface.
  • Using a flour dusted dough scraper or spatula, scrape the dough onto a clean, lightly floured work surface.
  • Coat your hands with flour and gently pat the dough with your palms to create a thick disk. To create more of a round ball shape, tuck under the circumference of the disk. Turn the disc over, rough side down. With both hands, gently reach under the dough and stretch the tucks in a bit more. Re-flour the dough.
  • A ball should start to form with a nice smooth surface on top. Don’t fret over this step; each time you make this loaf you’ll get more familiar with the bread and how to shape it.
  • Flour a banneton (a wood proofing bowl), then place the ball of dough in the banneton rough side up.
  • Dust with more flour and cover with a tea towel. Let the dough rise for 2 hours, until it doesn’t readily spring back when poked with a finger.
  • About 30 minutes before the end of the second rise, put a lidded 6 to 8 quart Dutch oven or heavy oven proof pot with lid in the oven, and preheat oven to 475°F.
  • Once the oven has preheated and the Dutch oven is hot (30 minutes), carefully remove the Dutch oven from the oven.
  • Flip the banneton and hit it forcefully into the hot Dutch oven.
  • Remove the banneton while taking care to avoid the sides of the hot Dutch oven.
  • Cover the Dutch oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Uncover and bake for 15 minutes (or a bit more) until the boule is browned and sounds hollow when tapped.
  • Remove from the oven and immediately transfer to a rack to cool. (Do not attempt to cut the boule until it is cool or you will get mush.)

NOTE: The ingredients need to be weighed rather than measured by volume to assure accuracy. Use a cooking scale. However, the amount of water varies dependent upon something that is known as the absorption rate of flour. You will want a fairly gloppy dough first rise.

Yeast and vital wheat gluten should be kept in the refrigerator once opened. Vital wheat gluten is added to allow for greater elasticity.

Consider joining Los Angeles Bread Bakers if you want to go beyond this very basic loaf. All classes are informative and relatively low cost.

Food Sources

Whole Foods for the vital wheat gluten.

Los Angeles Bread Bakers for flour and other grains.

Grist & Toll

King's Roost

I consider myself a somewhat accomplished cook, but a baker I am not. Elisa encouraged me to take a stab at her 21 Hour Boule. I kept telling myself, “Oh this is not going to work, this is not going to work.” Miraculously, it does, and the results are so sublime that I might even buy myself a baker’s hat. This is now my go-to bread.

Bill Anawalt, Experienced cook and recipe tester.