Now, the original recipes, both Lahey's and Hertzberg's, call for shaping the dough and letting it rest for a couple of hours, then baking it in a 450-degree preheated oven. But Bittman's column the other day had a letter from a reader who, pressed for time, didn't do a second rise and didn't preheat the oven. The dough was shaped and plopped into a cold pot in a cold oven. The reader turned the oven to 450, baked for half an hour covered and half an hour uncovered. So that's what I'm trying today. Let's see how it comes out.
OK, it's an hour later and here's lesson No. 1: Don't get busy with weeding and fail to check the bread. Half an hour with the lid off is way too long:
The crumb is also not so lofty, though it tastes all right.
I'm going to try this again tomorrow and keep a closer eye on it. But I suspect that the two-hour rise on the counter before baking is needed if you want an airier loaf. On the other hand, starting with a cold pot and oven does still yield a crispy crust, so that may be a good energy-saver.
Bittman's Minimalist column also links to a different speedy version and even a whole-grain version, using rye and cornmeal. If you like whole-grain breads, you might give that a try. I'm a philistine and prefer white.
For previous versions of no-knead bread (with Nutella! with cheese!) click on the "Bread" tag below.