Rule-Breaking No-Knead Bread
I can’t take credit. Readers wrote to tell me about variations in the fermenting and baking methods for no-knead bread. The first was to forget preheating the baking pot. The second was to refrigerate the proofed dough for 12 hours or longer before baking. I’ve tried both variations with good results and it means that a bread that was already a snap to make got even easier. Recently foot surgery has made getting around more difficult: I am one-footed and get around on crutches and a kneeling scooter. I could not figure out how I was going to cart a very hot and very heavy pot across the kitchen in order to load my dough into it. And last week, my too-old starter did not fully ferment my dough in the time I had allowed. Into the refrigerator it went until the following day. You can see from the picture that the resulting bread is indistinguishable from loaves baked according to my usual method (http://penniwisner.com/online-recipes/no-knead-bread-and-whole-grain-variations/).
I don’t think I would leave a fermented dough unbaked for longer than 24 hours. The longer the wait before baking, the more sour the flavor. And you might sacrifice oven-spring as well. As for the cold-pot baking method. My poor cast-iron Dutch oven, after years of being heated while empty had begun shedding all its seasoning in big black flakes. It will appreciate the reduction in abuse.