Breadbaking: No Knead Loaf
No Need to Knead Bread
If you've been paying attention lately, there are a lot of artisan breads out there. The good news is that they're delicious with that kind of old Tuscany look and flavor. The bad news is that they are really expensive!
They come in a variety of shapes and styles - with seeds and without. They're also made with all kinds of different flours from wheat to rye to semolina.
Wouldn't it be fantastic to create these mouth-watering breads right in your own kitchen? Even better, wouldn't it be unbelievable to create them without knowing how to even bake bread?
I recently discovered the art of baking delicious, healthier, and incredibly easy breads with about 5 minutes of prep time for a fraction of the cost I spend on a typical loaf of artisan bread.
Not only are these breads addicting, but once you master the technique, you won't believe the number of recipes you can create yourself.
Beware though - once you serve these breads to your family and friends, they too will be sold on the idea of baking bread at home. Think of the possibilities!
- 3 cups bread flour, unbleached, unbromated
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1-1/2 cups warm water
- 3 qt or greater Dutch oven, oven safe to 500 degrees
- or other suitable pan see below
- Combine flour, yeast and salt in large glass or metal bowl. Stir to combine.
- Add warm water and mix until blended.
- Dough will be dry and "shaggy." Mix as thoroughly as possible with a wooden spoon.
- Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm spot covered for 10-14 hours. Note: If you use quick-rise yeast, you can let sit for at least 4 hours and bake as below.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Meanwhile, scrape bubbly bread dough out onto a piece of slightly floured parchment paper. With flour-dusted hands, shape into a rounded loaf. Carefully plop the loaf into a round, cooking sprayed nonstick skillet. Recover with plastic and let sit while you warm the pan.
- Put Dutch oven or covered baker into hot oven. Set timer for 30 minutes. (Bread rests while pan heats)
- Carefully remove pan from oven and set on top of burner. Remove lid carefully and set aside. Invert bread dough in the nonstick skillet and plop loaf (upside down now) into the Dutch oven. Shake gently to move bread around though even off center, it will bake just fine. Cover with lid. Place in oven and bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove the lid and continue baking for another 15 minutes with the lid off. Remove from oven and invert onto a cooling rack.
- Store as you would any other crusty loaf. If more crustiness is needed, place loaf into a 350 degree oven and bake for roughly 10 minutes.
Dutch Oven Breads
No-knead breads are great for baking in Dutch oven pans. You can use cast iron Dutch ovens, ceramic or enamel Dutch ovens. The most important factor in using these unique pans to bake an artisan bread is remembering that the oven temperature will be 450 degrees. Thus, it is best to use a Dutch oven that is oven-safe to 500 degrees.
Many Dutch ovens such as mine have plastic-appearing knobs on the lid. However, they are oven safe to 500 degrees and I have never had any problems with mine.
Do not grease or otherwise oil your Dutch oven for baking. Even dabbing on oil or butter on the loaf inside your pan at the end of cooking can discolor the inside of your pan and make for a nasty cleanup because of the high temps.
The best way to bake artisan loaves is to simply plop the dough in, cover and bake. You can insert a small piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the Dutch oven if you are worried about sticking but again, I've never had a loaf stick to the pan but did have one stick to the paper, which was a terrible mess.
Don't have a Dutch oven? You can improvise with any pot or pan with a lid (or even without a lid) but the pan should be oven-safe to 500 degrees. See below for more options on how to bake your artisan loaves.
If you use a 3-quart Dutch oven, your bread will be higher, rounder and more squat. If you use a 5-quart or 6-quart Dutch oven, your bread will be flatter, wider and less high when all is said and done. No matter what size or shape though, it will always be great.
Why Homemade Breads?
- nutritious - quality ingredients
- without additives
- economical - pennies per loaf
- convenient - always available
- a great addition to a potluck
- a great gift
- so easy kids can help make it
Varieties of No-Knead Breads
The possibilities are endless when it comes to no-knead breads. There are countless cookbooks available at your local library or online. However, some of my best breads have been of my own invention.
Don't be afraid to experiment with different recipes. The cost of making these breads is so nominal that I always feel my creations are well worth the chance I take to create a different kind. I haven't had one fail yet. If one maintains the ratio if roughly 1-1/2 cups of water to 3 cups of flour, you almost cannot go wrong.
You will notice that some recipes call for as little as 1/4 teaspoon of yeast. Other recipes call for a full packet of quick-rising yeast. This is a preference thing and only experimenting over time will help you decide which way you want to make your breads. Likewise, salt is a huge variation in many of the recipes. I prefer kosher salt or sea salt but many folks use regular table salt. Some recipes also call for adding vinegar. The sky's the limit!
You also can bake the bread in different pans achieving different effects. The same artisan Dutch oven loaf can be transformed into a delicious sandwich loaf by letting the dough rise in the loaf pan rather than in the skillet. When adequately risen (30-90 minutes), bake until done (30-40 minutes).
I've rolled the Dutch oven loaf dough into baguettes and baked on a French wire loaf pan. I've also divided the dough into ciabatta style rolls and baked them on top of an upside down cookie sheet.
Some favorite variations:
- honey whole wheat artisan loaf rolled in oats
- light rye artisan loaf
- oat flour sandwich loaf
- English muffin loaf
Add-Ins for No-Knead Breads
As you can imagine, there are as many ways to bake artisan breads as there are recipes out there.
Be creative and find your own groove when it comes to how much you add and what you add.
Think outside the box and make your own style artisan bread.
- dried or fresh rosemary (and other herbs)
- grated cheeses
- roasted garlic
Caution: Some spices such as cinnamon affect how the bread proofs or rises so be careful not to add in at the beginning. Cinnamon for instance is best added right before baking or rolled up inside the dough such as for cinnamon rolls.
The 5-Minute Artisan Loaf
Though there are many variations of this so-called 5-minute artisan loaf, the theory is pretty much all the same.
Mother Nature is doing the kneading and thus the label of no-knead. As the video shows here, even "almost no-knead" breads really don't "need" kneading.
As Steve demonstrates, just folding the bread around a few times is sufficient enough to "wake up" the yeast and produce a beautifully textured, delicious loaf of bread.
The key to remember in all no-knead recipes (and there are literally hundreds of them) is that time will do the same job kneading would traditionally do.
Quick-rise or bread machine yeast will also cut your proofing time at least in half so if you've forgotten to start a batch in time, always have some quick-rise yeast on hand for faster bread making.
Start your loaf in the morning you want to have bread with dinner. Start your bread in the afternoon or early evening to have bread for breakfast or lunch. Depending upon what yeast you use, you can plan on a 4-18 hour window for proofing/rising.
The recommended flour is a good bread flour - the kind used in bread machines. However, an unbleached flour or a combination of different flours works just as well. You can substitute whole wheat, rye, semolina, oat or other flours but start small and work your way up as you'll want to be sure and have the right amount of salt for taste and yeast for proofing. Remember that none of the ingredients are set in stone and should be adjusted to taste.
It's also possible to convert other kneaded bread recipes into no-knead or almost no-knead by adjusting the ingredients a bit. Again, experimentation is the mother of invention and what a delicious result you will achieve!
Bread Pans and Shaping
Just as there are many different variations in the recipes for no-knead breadmaking, there are that many different ways you can actually bake the bread.
The important thing to remember is to be sure and shape the dough according to the method that you will be ultimately baking it. So for instance, round loaves should be doing their final 30-minute rise or proofing in a round shape - or resting in a round nonstick skillet for instance.
Oblong loaves such as sandwich loaves should be rolled, folded or patted into shape and then left to do the final rise either in a vessel shaped like the baking pan or in the pan itself, lightly covered for its final rise.
Pyrex dishes also work great for baking - with or without lids. Just make sure they are oven-safe again to 500 degrees.
Pizza stones are great for baking these artisan breads and you can even make your own pizza stone with an unglazed, untreated large quarry stone.
Remember to bake artisan breads nearer the bottom of your oven to get all that good heat warming the pan or stone.
People who like softer crusts do not bake the breads for the full 15 minutes without a lid or to achieve the same effect, you can also brush a little melted butter or smear on a bit of olive oil to the top of the loaf after you remove it from the pan.
- No Knead Bread Baking Method
On this page, you will find both the short and long version videos of a basic no knead bread baking technique. See these variations of no knead recipe too. Before we get started, I wanted to share an email I
Fresh Baked Bread
Nothing beats the aroma that fills your home when you bake bread. You can't beat the work time for these delicious loaves and if you're like me, you'll find that everyone wants a "piece of it."
Be careful not to slice into your freshly baked loaf until it is completely cool, though the temptation will almost certainly overcome you at least once. When removed from the oven, the loaf is technically still baking and you want to let it settle and mature to its full body before slicing.
When you do slice your loaf, turn it on its side and use a serrated or bread knife to cut. Cutting the bread too soon after removal from the oven or cutting it when upright can squash or damage the upper crust while turning it on its side allows precise, clean slicing. It also helps you cut slices evenly.
If these bread ideas were not enough for you to start out with, try some of these other no-knead or almost no-knead yeast marvels:
- overnight yeast waffles
- potato dinner rolls
- sweet potato dinner rolls
- ciabatta rolls
- hamburger and hot dog rolls
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