It is possible to make one pound loaves of artisan bread very economically at home without a special oven. There are several no knead recipes that yield amazing quality artisan breads and the ingredient cost are below $0.60 cents for a loaf!
Original No-Knead Bread Recipe -Jim Lahey Sullivan Street Baker
The recipe described by Jim Lahey on the U-Tube video calls for 3 cups of all purpose flour, 1 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp instant yeast plus 1 1/2 cups water. After mixing, allow this bread to rise for 14 hours, then form the bread into a round loaf and allow it to rise for 2 more hours. Bake the bread at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes in a covered iron pot that has been preheated for 30 minutes. At this point you remove the cover and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.
No-Knead Bread Recipe Updated by Mark Bittman NYTimes Food Editor
This version is very similar to Lahey's recipe except that it used 3 cups of bread flour, the water is adjusted to 1 5/8 cup and the baking temperature has been reduced to 450 degrees F.
Bread Flour vs. All Purpose Flour
I'm often asked whether bread flour is critical for success when making no knead bread. This week I prepared recipes using bread flour and all purpose flour to compare the resulting loaves side by side. Each loaf was baked at 450 degree F for 30 minutes in a covered preheated cast iron pot, then finished baking for 15 minutes uncovered. My expectation was that the higher protein bread flour would help develop stronger gluten and have better texture.
The bread on the left side of the photo was made with bread flour, while the bread on the right used all purpose flour. Notice the size and quantity of the air-holes in the loaf made with all purpose flour.
While both loaves had good flavor, I preferred the texture of the loaf made with bread flour. Bread flour will cost about 10 cents more per loaf, but I think it is worth the extra expense.
Either bread is very economical to make, a 5 pound bag of flour will yield approximately 6 loaves of bread.
Another frequently asked question is whether the bread can be made without adding salt. While salt helps develop bread's flavor profile, it is also critical to helping control yeast activity and strengthening gluten. Bread made without any salt often collapses during baking because of weak gluten structure. I have reduced the amount of salt added to 1 tsp successfully, but I hesitate to completely remove salt.
These breads are hearty and are easy to make. Many friends expressed concern that the breads take so long to make. In many ways that is the beauty of these recipes. It takes 5 minutes to prepare the bread mix for rising. The long rise time is very flexible, as long as you leave it at least 14 hours for the first rise. Developing a schedule that works for you is the key. Often I will mix up the bread at night after dinner for baking the next day. I've let the bread rise 20 hours and still had great results.
I look forward to hearing about your experiences!