This might be the best looking loaf of bread I have ever made. I can't deny it, my heart soared with a mother's pride when I saw the just barely cracked, crusty brown exterior. And, it was the easiest loaf ever. Following Sullivan Street Bakery founder Jim Lahey's easier than easy recipe, I mixed flour, raisins, walnuts, yeast, salt, and water into a sticky dough (I just mixed them a few times with my hands) and left the bread in process to rise in a warm spot for about 20 hours until it was yeasty, bubbly, with a rich floury aroma. I kneaded the dough once or twice -- just to bring it together, formed it into a ball and left it to rise (covered by a floured tea towel for 2 more hours. As the dough reached the end of it's rise I heated the oven to 475º with a covered 5 quart dutch oven inside. At the end of the rise I popped the dough into the super hot dutch oven ( a Le Creuset enameled French oven to be exact) and covered it up to bake for 30 minutes in the hot oven. And then, uncovered the ot and left the bread to finish baking until the crust was thick and crisp and the loaf had taken on a warm brown tone.
Modern kitchen bread alchemy, courtesy of Jim Lahey.