Jim Lahey and Mark Bittman's co-accomplishment in the culinary world is such that it now can be divided into the Pre No-knead (PrN) period and the Post No-knead (PoN) period. When Mark Bittman published the recipe in the New York Times, it incited such a sensation: home cooks who'd dared not touch yeast bread were found stirring up sticky dough, scorching their pristine Le Creuset Dutch Ovens, and blasting the poor little lid knob in the process, all in the name of holy, hole-y, and crispy-crust breads just like those one could get at a corner boulangerie in Paris. Were we to live near one, that is.
I too had ready success with the recipe. The first no-knead loaf I produced--the very first loaf of bread I've ever made, in fact--was gorgeous, irregular holes, super
crisp crust, and even holding it's shape pretty well despite having
been such a sticky, messy dough. The bottom burnt a little, but I
brushed it off as a simple novice mistake.
The problem? No flavor! It didn't taste bad, it really didn't. It was just an inoffensive-tasting bread with a great texture and structure. Still, I was bitten by the no-knead bug. I was simply astonished that I too could make bread. How cool was that? I was determined to continue, and even more determined to put some taste into this bread. I resisted using herbs, dried fruits, olives, or any other normal additions to the bread. I was looking to put flavor in the bread itself, not to dress up the otherwise homely loaf in the culinary equivalent of bling.
After baking I don't know how many loafs, I finally found one I love. This is it.