No knead bread baking at home has taken off in the last couple of years. I have seen articles in The New York Times, and Mother Earth News and there are a number of books on the process like Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The idea is that instead of the kneading bread dough in order to develop the gluten (the protein in wheat flour) all you need to do is mix the ingredients, and let the gluten develop through a long rising time.
I have seen and used two methods. The first method is to mix the ingredients together and let it sit out at room temperature for 18-24 hours. Another method is to mix the ingredients and let sit out for two hours to rise, and then place the dough in the refrigerator to develop flavor. The refrigerated dough is made in several loaf batches. The dough can be refrigerated for up to two weeks. A portion of dough is cut off from the batch when you want to make a loaf.
After the dough rises and the gluten is developed, the dough is shaped and allowed to rise again. It can be either baked on a baking stone or placed in a preheated cast iron pan. With the pan method, the dough is placed into a super hot pan and the lid is place on top. About half to three quarters through the baking time, the lid is removed to develop a crisp crust.
Why no knead bread? For starters it is really easy. Most breads require about 10-20 minutes of hard kneading to work of the dough. This may take even longer because you might need to work in batches. That may not sound like a huge amount of time, but the kneading step prevents many home cooks from making bread at home at all. I know I bake bread at home more then ever since I starter using the no knead method, especially after a sold my mixer when I moved.
No Knead Bread Pan Method: 12-18 hour rise time.
3 cups All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cups of water
1 1/4 teaspoons of salt
1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast
Mix the the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl.
Stir in the water to form a very wet dough.
Cover the bowl with tin foil and let it sit out at room temperature for 12-18 hours.
After 18 hours, you will see a very wet and bubbly dough with large gluten strands.
Roll out the dough on a well floured surface. Plat the dough flat into a rectangle shape. Fold the wide sides of the dough over each other like an envelope. Let rise for 2 hours.
Preheat the your a 5-7 quart cast iron or le creuset pan for 30 minutes at 500-515 degrees.
Open your oven and take the lid off your pan. Place (throw) your dough into the pan seem side up.
Bake for 20 minutes with lid on and then take off the lid and bake for 10-15 minutes with the lid off.
Take the bread out of the pan, and let cool on a rack. It will crack and crackle a little when cooling.