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Jim Lahey's No-Knead Baguette

Jim Lahey's no-knead baguett with a few slices cut from it on a wooden board.
This is a no knead version, with the first rise lasting up to 18 hours to develop flavor. The thin crispy crust just sings when you first pull it out of the oven.
Jim Lahey

Prep 20 mins
Cook 25 mins
Total 13 hrs 45 mins
Sides
American
4 (18-inch) baguettes
463 kcal

Ingredients 

  • 3 cups bread flour plus more for the work surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant or other active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups cool (55 to 65°F | 13 to 18°C) water
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Directions 

  • In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, table salt, sugar, and yeast. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough, about 30 seconds. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size, 12 to 18 hours.
  • When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface with flour. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece. Fold the dough over itself two or three times and gently shape it into a somewhat flattened ball. Brush the surface of the dough with some of the olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the coarse salt (which will gradually dissolve on the surface).
  • Place a tea towel on your work surface and generously dust it with wheat bran, cornmeal, or flour. Gently place the dough on the towel, seam side down. If the dough is tacky, dust the top lightly with wheat bran, cornmeal, or flour. Fold the ends of the tea towel loosely over the dough to cover it and place in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost doubled. If you gently poke it with your finger, it should hold the impression. If it springs back, let it rise for another 15 minutes.
  • Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C), with a rack in the center. Oil a 13-by-18-by-1-inch (33-by-45-by-2.5-cm) baking sheet.
  • Cut the dough into quarters. Gently stretch each piece evenly into a stick shape approximately the length of the pan. Place on the pan, leaving at least 1 inch between the loaves. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt.
  • Bake the baguettes for 15 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then use a spatula to move the stecca to a rack to cool thoroughly.