I have my 7th loaf of no-knead bread in the oven. This looks to be the high-bold loaf I have been searching for.
I have been experimenting with the recipe and have made the following discoveries.
I read at World Table, a Sullivan Street Bakery site which to Jim Lahey has posted, that when Mark Bittman said instant yeast, he meant regular, granular yeast, like the Fleischman’s that I used in the first loaf. However, I had purchased Red Star Quick-Rise which also contains sorbitan monostearate, and ascorbic acid and I have used that for the last 4 loaves.
I fiddled with the salt. In the first six loaves I stuck with the recipe and used 1-1/4 t. sea salt. In loaf 7 I used 2 t. kosher salt as per the discussion on eGullet . It has loads of wonderful feedback (191 posts over the last week) and lots of pictures.
I also SCOOPED the flour into a 1 cup measuring cup and sort of shook it to level it. I have been going with 1-1/2 c. water since the second loaf. I use coarse corn meal on my kitchen towel for the second rise. On this loaf I did my second rise in a banneton and I think that helped support the loaf during the second rise. It also made it easier to plop into the preheated pot–no burns, less cornmeal flying around the kitchen..
After all of the excitement of the first few loaves I went to Sur la Table to price a 5.8 qt Kiwi colored Le Creuset that I had been coveting. Instead, I bought a Copco enameled cast iron pot with a metal handle on the top (a lovely pumpkin colored Mario Batali model–6 qt. size – half the cost). I had used that for several loaves. For loaf No. 7, I went back to the ceramic pot (3 qt.). I baked it at 450 degrees for 30 minutes, top on, and then 22 minutes with the top off. I got the best oven spring on this loaf and it is the prettiest yet. Have to wait to see the inside and taste it.