A brief overview, 'no-knead bread' is made by mixing the flour with a tiny bit of yeast, water, and salt, mixed to incorporate all the ingredients, then left to rise and ferment for 12-18 hours (I always go for 18).
The next day, the dough will have doubled in size, be stringy and bubbly (gluten power!), and look slightly collapsed. Looking at the picture, you can see how much the dough developed with just a little yeast and many hours.
Out of the container and onto a floured board, you fold the dough twice over itself and let rest for 15 minutes.
After the resting period, you fold it onto itself again, but this time four times to make an envelope-like shape. Tuck the sides underneath gently and quickly, then place the dough, seam-side down, on a wheat bran-lined flour cloth that's on a baking sheet.
When the dough has proofed for 2 hours and the cast iron pot has heated up, the dough is plopped into the pot, covered, and cooked at a temperature of 500°. Covering the pot creates a steamy environment which aids in creating a crispy crust that proves to be a challenge for many of us. I go for 30 minutes covered, and 15 minutes uncovered.
As you can see, the loaf has risen dramatically, has a nice artisan look to it, and browned beautifully.
Remove the bread from the pot immediately, and listen to the crackling choir that emanates from the loaf. Seriously. I literally do listen to the crackling for a few seconds each time.
I must admit that I haven't given much effort into making regular artisan breads, except for the biyearly baguettes that have come out quite well for me, so to produce a loaf of bread with this type of crust and the crumb structure is pretty nice for how little time I spend with it. It also has a really nice fermented flavor, similar to recipes that have a sponge, old dough, and many slow rising times. The only downside is that it seems just a tiny bit gummy, but you can't tell when you eat it.
My favorite way to eat this bread is toasted and spread with butter. Regular homemade sandwich bread is also good, but there's something about the no-knead bread toasted that takes toast to the next level.