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No-Knead Bread (no kidding!)

Updated on September 8, 2014

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.

Source

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!)

The Tassajara Bread Book
The Tassajara Bread Book

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.

Bread Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting

¼ teaspoon instant yeast

1¼ 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.

Shaping:

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 loaf

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Mixing the flour(s), salt, water and yeast.The beginning dough is lumpy but still pretty moist.Covered and left for many hours to rise in a warm place.The risen dough is puffy and bubbly in texture.Punched down and covered for the second rise.Wrapped in a towel to stay warm as the oven and cooking pot pre-heat.My heavy cooking pot has a lid that double as a frying pan.The dough after being tipped seam-side down into the super-hot pot.Coming out of the oven all nice and brown.Cooling on a wire rack.
Mixing the flour(s), salt, water and yeast.
Mixing the flour(s), salt, water and yeast.
The beginning dough is lumpy but still pretty moist.
The beginning dough is lumpy but still pretty moist.
Covered and left for many hours to rise in a warm place.
Covered and left for many hours to rise in a warm place.
The risen dough is puffy and bubbly in texture.
The risen dough is puffy and bubbly in texture.
Punched down and covered for the second rise.
Punched down and covered for the second rise.
Wrapped in a towel to stay warm as the oven and cooking pot pre-heat.
Wrapped in a towel to stay warm as the oven and cooking pot pre-heat.
My heavy cooking pot has a lid that double as a frying pan.
My heavy cooking pot has a lid that double as a frying pan.
The dough after being tipped seam-side down into the super-hot pot.
The dough after being tipped seam-side down into the super-hot pot.
Coming out of the oven all nice and brown.
Coming out of the oven all nice and brown.
Cooling on a wire rack.
Cooling on a wire rack.

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!

Baker's Corner - comments and questions about no-knead bread-baking

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    • atsad141 profile image

      atsad141 4 years ago

      Your presentation make it easy. Thank you.

    • schwarz profile image
      Author

      Rae Schwarz 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

      @pyngthyngs: This method has worked every single time for me.... go for it!

    • pyngthyngs profile image

      pyngthyngs 4 years ago

      This sounds so easy to do and I'm sure it's just delicious. I can't wait to try it.

    • schwarz profile image
      Author

      Rae Schwarz 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

      @SteveKaye: Please, let it tempt you! It's sooo easy.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      I like bread and this is so tempting. Thank you for publishing this lens.

    • LornsA178 profile image

      LornsA178 5 years ago

      I would like to try this recipe, it sounds really good no-knead bread. Thanks!

    • schwarz profile image
      Author

      Rae Schwarz 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      @Echo Phoenix: I found that using more than one type of flour makes this recipe really rock, you just get a better loaf.

    • profile image

      Echo Phoenix 5 years ago

      thanx, cannot wait to try this out! I will be using unbleached flour as I do in all my recipes now... found that there is a strong connection between bleached flour and many common illnesses so I like to encourage others to make the switch for your health;) yummy home made bread, thanx again!

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 5 years ago from San Francisco

      There is nothing like the scent of homemade bread in the kitchen. Wonderful page! Thank you for the step-by-step instructions.

    • wolfie10 profile image

      wolfie10 6 years ago

      love home made bread

    • Linda Pogue profile image

      Linda Pogue 6 years ago from Missouri

      I love making my own bread. I can't wait to try this. Have to run out and get some more yeast, first.

    • spritequeen lm profile image

      spritequeen lm 7 years ago

      That's the beauty of gluten-free bread, too - Always HATED kneading wheat bread!...Anyway! Great lens! Thanks for sharing!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I really enjoy cooking, and enjoy experimenting with new recipes even more. Your no-knead bread is a new one for me...all need to do is hunt down a Le Creuset dutch oven thingie.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Wow, I didn't know you could make bread without kneading it, unless maybe it was flatbread or tortillas. Excellent lens!

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 8 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      This is something I definitely have to try. Thanks for your excellent lens.

    • profile image

      taurus430 8 years ago

      Hi, I've been making the no knead bread now for 4 months with great success. I was about to buy a new bread machine but changed my mind. 2 things I must add, I use regular dry yeast, not instant as that's what I had. Instead of a 1/4 tsp I use 1/2 and I use all purpose flour, they both work fine and can save money.

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 8 years ago

      I've never been any good at bread baking but maybe I could manage this one. I'd love for you to submit this recipe lens to Hungry Squidz Choice Group.

    • amanda0983 profile image

      amanda0983 8 years ago

      Wow this is a great lens. 5* and fav!

    • profile image

      poutine 8 years ago

      Wow! I didn't even know one could make bread without kneading.

      Thanks for opening my little eyes to this possibility.

    • CCGAL profile image

      CCGAL 9 years ago

      I also have the Tassajara Bread Book, and a bread machine, and now I have a new no-knead recipe to try. This was interesting - the only thing I think I would have liked more would have been for the photos to either be larger or in a slide show - my eyes are getting old, I guess. Enjoyable lens! Kudos!

    • profile image

      KathleenH 9 years ago

      This is brilliant - thank you! I particularly love your photos of the whole process. This is indeed an excellent bread making method - I love it! But to get my hands dirty I also agree with you about the Tassajara Bread Book - a fantastic and inspirational approach to bread making. Thanks for a great lens!

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 9 years ago

      This sounds absolutely fantastic. Gotta try this recipe sometime this week! Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      You have inspired me to try breadmaking again. I have not done so for over 15 years. You make it so easy. Thanks for the tips and I have the dutch oven already. Great Lens!

    • beeobrien lm profile image

      beeobrien lm 9 years ago

      I've added this lens to my "Great recipe lenses" module at Incredibly Good Recipes.

    • carrieokier profile image

      carrieokier 9 years ago

      Great lens. 5 stars! I loved your alchemy lens too. (It had no guestbook- so I had to mention it here.)

    • profile image

      giddygabby 9 years ago

      Mmmm. I'm going to have to try this one next weekend. Sounds so good! Thanks for putting this recipe on Squidoo.

    • beeobrien lm profile image

      beeobrien lm 9 years ago

      Rachel, this is a really great idea. I'm a Cuisinart bread baker myself, but I really like this idea. Thanks.

    • schwarz profile image
      Author

      Rae Schwarz 9 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I was recently given some sourdough starter, so as soon as it warms up a bit more, I'm going to see if this method works for sourdough bread as well.

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 9 years ago from Minnesota

      I am definitely going to try this. Sounds just yummy.

    • shannonhilson1 profile image

      shannonhilson1 9 years ago

      I'm a bread enthusiast, and I love making my own, so this lens was just what I was looking for. Actually I plan on giving this a try today! Thanks for sharing with us.

    • profile image

      RonAllen 9 years ago

      I like quick breads so the idea of no knead bread like this is right up my alley. Great lens!

    • profile image

      ToSquidoo 10 years ago

      I use my bread maker every day. This look like a bit more work, and I don't think anywhere in my house is 70 degrees except in the summer, but I'm going to give it a go. How deep does the pot have to be to hold the bread? Do you think an oblong glass casserole would work?

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 10 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      Thanks for a very good, informative lens. I'm giving you a lensroll on my whole wheat bread lens.

    • profile image

      Partybluprints 10 years ago

      No knead bread - Okay this is a great idea! I have to try it to believe it.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 10 years ago from USA

      I've featured this great page on my home made manicotti lens. What a yummy combo!

    • profile image

      ILoveObento 10 years ago

      NO NEED TO KNEAD!!! I wish I'd known this a long time ago!! I've got a couple of sourdough recipes I've found...I'll share. I'm on the lookout for SOAKED grain bread recipes, jic you have some! Great job.

      Blessings,

      Sheri

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 10 years ago

      I'll have to try this. We have a bread machine, but this looks easy and fun. I'm also a fan of Greens Restaurant and have their cookbook as well.

    • profile image

      YourSmilingChef 10 years ago

      Sounds unbelievably easy, but delicious! This is definitely a "must try". Thanks!

    • schwarz profile image
      Author

      Rae Schwarz 10 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Susan, this technique makes bread that has great texture even without the kneading... Enjoy!

    • Susan1 LM profile image

      Susan1 LM 10 years ago

      I love making bread but I do it the old fashion way lots and lots of kneading UGH! I look forward to trying this! Thanks!

      Susan

    • profile image

      badmsm 10 years ago

      We make a lot of bread at our house! I'll give this a try, thank you for the info.

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      I have had mixed results with bread so it is nice to have some practical information. I especially like the clips. Thank you.

    • schwarz profile image
      Author

      Rae Schwarz 10 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Funny you should ask about sourdough... I'm a huge lover of sourdough bread! I've been reading on the topic, and so far, the answer is I'm not sure yet. But I'm still hunting... LOL...

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      i have tried this method, it definatley works, you should give it a try!! question, would this work for sour dough bread?? love sour dough bread!!

    • schwarz profile image
      Author

      Rae Schwarz 10 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I just did some serious experimentation on the temp of the rising dough. If you've not paid any attention to whether you've been taking care to let it rise at 70 degrees or higher, it makes a big difference in the final bread.

    • schwarz profile image
      Author

      Rae Schwarz 10 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I've been playing around with different types of flour for the bread... anyone else doing this yet? I'm finding nice variations with mixes of white and wheat flours.

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      This is the BEST bread you will ever make - I created a web page with very detailed instructions - www.aresrocket.com/bread

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      This is great! Homemade bread is the best. Making it has always been intimidating to me, but this I could try!

    • schwarz profile image
      Author

      Rae Schwarz 10 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Steve, I too find something about the method seems odd, but so far each loaf has come out PERFECTLY! It's so fun, I have to find more folks to give bread as our house has reached max capacity.

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      When we moved away from Boston we lost access to truly crusty bread.âthe Bread Bakers Apprentice' saved us. It's wonderful but requires time commitment, exacting measurements, and practiced technique. Jim's method disturbs the traditionalist in me, but the results are dead on: amazing artisan bread.

    • tmdblogger lm profile image

      tmdblogger lm 10 years ago

      Home made bread is the best. My little one loves sneaking bits of doh away and making mini loaves :-)

    • schwarz profile image
      Author

      Rae Schwarz 10 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I'll still make kneaded breads too, but this method has let me make homemade bread even when I'm really busy, like for my belly dance groups potluck tomorrow night.

    • groovyoldlady profile image

      groovyoldlady 10 years ago

      It sounds yummy, but I have two little girlies who LOVE to knead bread whenever I need them to. I do like the idea of rounds loaves, though... Also, I buy my yeast in bulk at the health food store. So I'm not even sure what instant yeast is. Nonetheless, this is a great lens!

    • schwarz profile image
      Author

      Rae Schwarz 11 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Thanks, Seth! And if you haven't tried this recipe yet, please do, it's like it's foolproof! (unless you get the yeast wrong, I've heard a few of those stories...)

    • seth godin profile image

      seth godin 11 years ago

      I love this lens. It saves so much time in having to find the Bittman piece every single time I want to bake! nicely done.