Basic No-Knead Bread

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DSC_8084(small)I know it’s been a couple years now since no-knead bread first took the food world by storm. I am no doubt behind the times for only now trying it, especially since it’s probably considered passé to some. Even so, there can be no denying that it’s a pretty fantastic discovery.

I think the reason I waited so long is I’m the sort of person who finds solace in mundane tasks. I like watching my mom vigorously mash potatoes by hand with the simple hand masher I remember her using since the time I was young, and then taking care to add the perfect combination of milk, butter, and salt, always eyeing it though, not a measuring cup or spoon in sight. Or watching my mother-in-law shape kibbeh or hollow out vegetables for mahashi for hours, working with nimble hands and a level of ease that only comes from years of practice.

DSC_8062(small)Or myself in the kitchen, taking great pride and pleasure in the tedious labor of making bread the traditional way. The precision of mixing ingredients to make dough, then giving it a good knead. Watching patiently as the yeast works its magic and causes the dough to swell, and then working the dough again, feeling it transform in my hands. Letting it rest a bit longer, and then waiting impatiently as the bread bakes, its enticing aroma permeating the house. I’m somewhat of an old soul when it comes to things like that.

As far as the finished product goes, I still prefer a kneaded bread, but this is honestly pretty delicious for being no-knead and nearly instant. (I say nearly because there is the 12 to 18 hour rise time, as well as a second 30 to 45 minute rise…but the rising takes care of itself, and is really no trouble if you plan ahead.) The slightly tangy flavor of this bread is very similar to sourdough, and its texture is dense, but with a spongy quality. The first day it’s perfect as-is, or with a little butter spread on top, then after that I found it was delicious toasted or used to make grilled cheese sandwiches.

Next I’m planning to try Jim Lahey’s recipe for No-Knead Bread, as seen in The New York Times.


Basic No-Knead Bread
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 1 loaf or about 10 servings
  • 3 cups (350 g) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus quite a bit more for shaping the dough
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1½ cups (355 ml) lukewarm water
  1. Whisk together flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Add the water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 12 to 18 hours. (After sitting, the dough will be sticky and sponge-like.)
  2. Preheat oven to 450F. Place a lidded cast iron pot or Dutch oven into the oven and heat the pot for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, pour the dough onto a very heavily floured surface, flour your hands, and shape into a ball (without kneading); sprinkle on more flour as necessary so the dough holds its shape without expanding too much. Drape the top with plastic wrap and let it rise until puffed, about 30 to 45 minutes.
  3. Remove the hot pot from the oven and drop in the dough; cut 3 slashes across the top of the dough with a sharp knife. Cover the pot and bake the bread for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove the bread from the pot and place on a cooling rack to cool completely before slicing.
Recipe adapted slightly from Simply So Good’s Recipe for Crusty Bread.

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  1. Andrea Masterson says

    Yum! I recently came across Jim Lahey’s recipe and have become a bit obbsessed with making it and trying out different variations. The best combos so far are rosemary, lemon & asiago, and tarragon, cracked black pepper and gruyere.

    • says

      Alyssa, Yup, I read it and loved it. Not too long ago I came across the no-knead bread recipe on Simply So Good that I mentioned in the post above, which was the first no-knead bread recipe that I tried (with a few minor adjustments). I am definitely planning to try other recipes as well!

  2. says

    I really like this recipe- I’m sort of a latecomer to the whole no-knead bread trend but will definitely try this recipe next time I have the need to make a loaf!

  3. says

    Just like you, I prefer kneading mybread dough, ( the perfect way to release daily stress out!) but your no-knead dough is such a beauty that I am now enticed to try the recipe out. Love sourdough taste, so this recipe is already a winner in my list!

  4. says

    Looks beautiful. You are so right – there is so much comfort in rituals and time-worn techniques.
    I’m a bit late catching up on the whole no-knead revolution and have yet to bake my first loaf of bread that way!

  5. says

    That is one gorgeous loaf of bread Faith! Such beautiful texture! If it’s passé then we shall be passé together! Santa brought me a Dutch oven specifically for bread baking.

    • says

      Reeni, I can’t think of anyone I’d rather be passé with, lol! I hope you’re doing well, gorgeous. Lucky girl, Santa was good to you…I know you’ll put that beauty to good use! xo

  6. says

    Being a working mother, these types of breads are really a life saviors! Your loaf looks absolutely amazing Faith! I would love a piece with some butter on it!

  7. says

    I have been making my own bread for 36 years and although I love the process I was NEVER able to create the Artisanal kind of loaf until trying high moisture no-knead. For the past 2 years I have been making soley no-knead and unlike you and some others prefer the texture: crust and crumb as well as flavor of many varieties of no knead…to each his or her own and viva la difference :)!!

    I make pizza crust, bagels, english muffins, naan-like bread and pastries and much as I do enjoy the knead process, I would not go back. I use and adapt most of my recipes from the Artisan Bread in 5 minutes per day and you do NOT have to let it rise for 12-18 hours. Using the recipe you posted, which is the same I started with…a 2 hour rise is generally sufficient. And I am in NW MT with a house that is 62-64F and low humidity. After at least 2 hours, the dough can be put in the frig and/or used, although it is much easier to handle after being in the frig for a bit.

    Aside from the texture and taste, the ability to crab a hunk of dough and have a fresh little boule or bagel or pizza crust or flatbread…in a short time – THAT works wonderfully for me.

    • says

      Liz, That’s fantastic! Thanks for sharing your experience working with no-knead dough, I’m sure it will be useful to those who want to give this recipe a try.

      Also, I just want to point out that while the long rise time may not be necessary for the structure of the bread, it is what imparts more of a sourdough-like flavor (the longer the rise time, the more the bread tastes like sourdough), so that’s also something to consider.

  8. peckerwood says

    i only have a 10 quart dutch oven, is that ok or is it to big, i mean will the bread hold shape or be flatter because the ovens to big?

    • says

      I use a 5.5 quart Dutch oven for this; I haven’t tried it in a larger pot so I don’t know for sure, but I think a 10 quart might be too big for this loaf. You might double the recipe and try it in a 10 quart that way (I’m not sure – cooking time might need to be adjusted this way). Let me know how it turns out if you give it a try!

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