I've read (and re-read) Mark Bittman's write-up of Jim Lahey's no-knead bread technique. In essence, the instructions say to follow the recipe to make the dough, let it rest for 12 to 18 hours at warm room temp, shape the loaf, let it rise for 2 hours on a cotton towel, transfer the dough to a very hot, pre-heated heavy dutch oven, cover the pot, bake for 30 minutes covered then another 15 to 30 minutes uncovered, remove the loaf to a rack for cooling, then eat. The steam that makes for a crisp crust comes from the moisture in the dough as it comes in contact with the hot, covered Dutch oven.
The confusion comes with the instructions for no-knead bread as described in "The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day." In the book, the "master recipe" makes enough dough for several loaves. The dough is mixed, allowed to rise at room temp for about 2 hours, refrigerated overnight, then portioned out for baking as needed. However, the instructions say to form the loaf, let it rest for about 40 minutes, then bake it on a preheated baking stone. Steam is added to the oven by means of a pan filled with hot water which sits below the baking stone.
About the only thing these two techniques seem to have in common is that neither dough needs kneading. So which recipe and technique is better? And what would be the result if I used the "Artisan Bread" recipe with the Lahey method of baking in a Dutch oven? I really like the idea of making a quantity of dough that can be used as needed to bake several loaves over a period of days or weeks. Can I mix and match these recipes and instructions?
Thanks for your help!