No-Knead Bread (no kidding!)
No Elbow Grease (and No Previous Bread Experience) Required!
You CAN make fresh homemade bread easily... What I'm about to tell you does NOT involve a bread machine, and there's NO laborious kneading either!
This page will tell you how you can bake fresh, flavorful, healthy bread with an awesome crust, and all it takes is just a touch of planning and about an hour's worth of actual effort. And all the ingredients you need are flour, salt, yeast and water.
My Newest "Old Thing"
overwhelmed by the ease of bread-baking
I first made my own bread when I was in high school. It was a production number that my mother helped me stage and cook, and I had a good time. But it seemed like too much to do.
I tried it again in college, especially once I was gifted with a huge ceramic bread bowl. I finally had a proper bowl to manage rising bread dough and it helped make the whole thing more fun, easier and my bread came out better. I also got the Tassajara Bread Book, since I'd eaten at the related Greens Restaurant in San Francisco. I had a good time with some of those breads, and many of the techniques for how to actually make the bread were easier than whatever I'd done before.
And then I didn't bake bread for at least a decade or so. Until November 8, 2006.
I've baked loaves a couple times a month ever since. New York Times writer Mark Bittman had an article featured about baker Jim Lahey who has a recipe and technique for bread that doesn't require any kneading. I read the article and was totally captivated. I even convinced my mom to lend me a piece of her Le Creuset cookware to use for my bread pot.
It's worked perfectly every single time right from the start! And the raving about the crust is very justified.
So, are you ready to give no-knead bread-baking a try?
(P.S. You'll have to be signed-up with the NY Times to read their articles. Or you can just go further down this lens and I'll fill you in on all the good stuff!)
This book has many wonderful bread varieties and everything in here can be done organically. The section on "something missing muffins" showing how to make muffins when you are missing a key ingredient is excellent.
Baby Bread Steps - beginning bread cookbooks and basic ingredients
Here's the one bread cookbook I do own. It was written by a man who was the baker at the Zen Center in Marin. It covers a wide range of bread types and includes a variety of grains and textures to explore. Very natural bread baking options and recipes.
I love Bob's Red Mill flours for baking bread. The results are both consistent and tasty! I often blend different types of flour when making my bread to combine the good qualities of multiple grains.
How To Bake No-Knead Bread
About 30-60 minutes work plus 14 to 20 hours' total bread rising time.
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
Â¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1Â¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.
The type of flour used can be varied as you wish: white, whole wheat, or blends. The yeast MUST be instant or it's not going to work.
Starting The Bread Dough:
Mix your flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and mix ingredients gently until blended. The dough is a very wet and sticky one. Put a piece of plastic wrap over the bowl to cover it and then put it somewhere that's at least 70 degrees for the next 12 to 18 hours.
Preparing The Dough:
When you come back and check on your dough, it should be larger and sort of puffy-looking with lots of bubbles all over. Sprinkle some extra flour on a work surface and scoop the dough out of the bowl on the surface. Sprinkle the dough with a bit of the flour and fold it over just one or two times. Cover it with the plastic wrap that was on the dough bowl and let it sit there for about 15 minutes.
Lay out a clean cotton towel (a smooth texture one) and sprinkle it with flour/cornmeal/bran. You don't want to add too much flour at this point, so, using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands, roll the dough into as tight a ball-shape as you can. Put the messier/seamed side of the ball down on the towel, sprinkle the dough with cornmeal/bran and cover with a second towel. Let the dough sit like this for two hours more. It should get a bit larger in size during this last rising.
Baking the Bread:
After the dough has risen for about 90 minutes of the two hours, start the oven pre-heating. Set it to 450 degrees AND put the pot you're going to bake the bread in into the oven to heat up too.
When the dough finishes rising, take the pre-heated pot out of the oven. Carefully flip the dough off the towel and into the pot, which should make it seam-messy side up when it winds up in the pot. If the dough is crooked, wiggle the pot a bit. Then put the lid on and put it into the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes, then open oven and take off the pot lid. Bake for 15-30 minutes more until loaf is browned. Remove from oven, tip out of pot and cool on a rack.
Makes one loaf, about 1.5 lbs.
A Heavy Pot Makes The Beautiful Crust - this is the cookware that Jim Lahey uses in the NY Times article
I got my mom to give me an older piece of Le Creuset cookware to use for baking my bread. It's a pot that has a skillet which goes on as the lid and the two then form a little dutch oven. And the whole thing is even in the signature "flame" finish. It's so retro, I'm making sure I abscond with this piece into my own kitchen collection.
Jim Lahey says to use a 6-8 qt pot in the original article, but I found that the loaf of bread made by the squarish dutch oven I used at that size made a loaf that was flatter than I really would have liked. So, I'm now using a smaller pot and the bread almost fills the whole thing when it bakes. You don't have to go that much smaller, but I found a bit of a reduction in cooking pot size worked for me.
The outer skin of the dough naturally splits on top as it bakes, and the look when you take the lid off after the first half hour is just spectacular. I go for a medium brown on the outer-most crust when I do the final 15-30 minutes of baking. On average, I'd say my breads tend to take only about 45 minutes of baking altogether.
Step-By-Step No-Knead Bread In Pictures - see me make a loafClick thumbnail to view full-size
No-Kneading Bread Legion
It seems every bread blogger in the known universe read the article and has given this a try.... Some folks have just done it once and a few have really given it the go!
Bread Accessories - bread boards and knives
When you bake bread yourself, it's not the standard shape and size that commercial bread comes in, and this can make it a bit tricky to slice and serve at first. Investing in a good cutting board and getting one or two quality bread knives makes it easy to enjoy your fresh, homemade bread right down to the very last crumb!
- Bittman's No-Knead Bread Phenomenon
Have you tried it yet? Mark Bittman shared this minimalist no-knead bread in The New York Times Dining Section a week ago today. The recipe, adapted from Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery, is unique because it doesn't require kneading
- No-knead bread takes over the world - Slashfood
The absolutely stunning crust and crumb you see in the photo above is a direct result of Not Martha's highly successful attempt at making the No-Knead Bread that Mark Bittman talked about in the New York Times last week. The bread was, to quote NM, "
- The Wednesday Chef: Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread
I imagine many people's weekends were spent like mine - with a bowl of flour, instant yeast and water fermenting in a warm corner of the kitchen as they went about their business, courtesy of Jim Lahey and that kitchen imp, Mark Bittman.
- Brownie Points Â» No-Knead Bread Revolution
Mark Bittman’s New York Times article The Secret of Great Bread: Let Time Do the Work (use bug me not for a site password) is inspiring an uprising in the culinary world.
- The Kosher Blog Â» Archive Â» No-Knead Bread
If you read food-blogs (and since you’re here, you probably do) or baking-blogs, you’ve probably seen the No-Knead Bread recipe by now.
- Bittman's No Knead bread is out of the oven - anyone else? - Chowhound
I threw together the dough last night in a free minute and put it above the fridge. I used 1 cup whole wheat and 2 cups white flour - no bread flour, though I can't imagine where it went to!