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Peppercorn, Potato, and Parmesan No-Knead Bread

(recipe, Cathy Erway)

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This is a slightly updated version of my winning peppercorn no-knead bread, with a small addition. Who can resist a sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano on top of anything? You won’t see an ungolden crust with this trick.


  1. 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  2. ¼ tsp. active dry yeast
  3. 1½ tsp. salt
  4. About 3 tablespoons black peppercorns, cracked (I place mine inside a zip-lock bag and roll over it with a rolling pin several times)
  5. 1⅝ cups water that was used to boil a potato, slightly cooled
  6. Parmesan


  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt, and peppercorns. Add the water and stir until blended; the dough will be shaggy and sticky.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest at least 12 hours (preferably about 18 hours or two days) at warm room temperature (about 70 degrees). The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles.
  3. Lightly flour a work surface and place the dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest about 15 minutes.
  4. Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or your fingers, gently and quickly shape the dough into a ball, tucking the folded parts underneath. Sprinkle and gently pat the grated Parmesan across the top of the loaf.
  5. Generously coat a clean cotton dishtowel (not terry cloth) with flour, semolina, or cornmeal, and place the loaf seam-side down on it. Coat another cotton towel with flour, cover the loaf, and let the dough rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, the dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
  6. At least half an hour before the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6–to-8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enameled cast iron, or ceramic) in the oven while the oven is preheating.
  7. When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven. Slide your hand under the towel and place the dough, Parmesan side up, in the pot.
  8. Cover with the lid and bake 20 minutes, then remove the lid and bake another 15 minutes, until the loaf is beautifully browned. Remove from the pan and cool completely on a rack.


Culinate editor's note: For a large loaf, double the recipe and bake, covered, for 35 minutes at 425 degrees, then bake, uncovered, for another 15 to 20 minutes.