This is my report on testing the NYT no-knead bread recipe as described on the alt.bread.recipe newsgroup. I took pictures as I went along, so you can see how I did.
To begin, here is the recipe that I used:
3 cups all-purpose flour, more for dusting [I used Hodgsens Mill AP, 390 grams]
1 5/8 cup water
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt [ I used 1 3/4 tsp kosher salt]
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed [not used]
Combine ingredients and let rise for 12 to 18 hours at room temperature. Here is what it looks like after fermentation.
Place dough on a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle with flour, then fold it over on itself once or twice. The dough is very wet, over 90 % hydration, but is manageable. Cover the dough and let it rest for 15 minutes.
Clean the cast iron dutch oven. Warm the iron if cold. Lightly oil the interior.
Shape the dough into a ball and place it into the dutch oven. I used two taping knives, the kind used for installing wallboard, to lift the very soft dough and place it into the cold dutch oven.
Here it is, ready to go into the oven.
Let it rise for about 2 hours. Cut the dough in four places with a razor.
Cover the oven with the lid, then place the dutch oven into a cold oven. Turn the oven on and set the temperature for 450 deg F.
After 30 minutes, remove the cover from the dutch oven. [I used a plant hanger from the garden to do this. Normally I use a metal tent stake, but none were at hand.] I put the cover on the ceramic tile kitchen floor. Don't put it on a plastic or wood surface.
At this point the dough had risen and the crust was beginning to brown. It did not crack or open where I had made the cuts. They had resealed themselves.
Bake the loaf for another 30 minutes till done. [I over baked it and the crust was too hard.]
Turn the oven off and open the door for 5 minutes. Then remove the dutch oven and remove the bread to cool on a rack for 20 minutes.
This is the loaf as it cools. It spread out but not enough to cover the bottom of the 12 inch dutch oven. It is nicely browned. It did not stick to the bottom of the oven and came up easily. The oven was lightly greased before the loaf was placed in it.
Cut open to show the crumb shows huge holes. The crust was very tough and hard to cut with a bread knife. The texture of the bread was coarse and tough. All in all not a very good loaf of bread.
Next - more baguettes.