No-Knead Bread

February 13th, 2010 · 7 Comments · Baking and Sweets

Last fall, after probably the 10th person in as many weeks asked me if I’d tried Jim Lahey’s no-knead homemade bread yet, I finally decided to give it a go. I had never made my own bread before — in my mind bakers were as different a species from cooks as chemists were –  which was probably why I had avoided it as long as I did.  But the hardest thing about this recipe is remembering to mix up the ingredients the night before you want to make it. After that, you spend about two minutes on it and you have a fresh freaking loaf of bread! It would be worth it if only for the amazingly hearthy vibe the aroma lends to the house which seems to put the girls into a Little Mermaid-like trance. (Warning: After the first wave of euphoria, you will be completely resentful that you ever spent a penny on that “artisanal” loaf.) Click to the jump for recipe.

No-Knead Bread (adapted from Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread)

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1  1/4 teaspoons salt
1 heaping teaspoon sugar

1. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients: flour, yeast and salt, and whatever flavorings (rosemary, thyme, Parmesan, all optional). Add 1 5/8 cups of water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a large plate. Let the dough rest for at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, as much as 24 (it’s very forgiving) at a warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
But, after about 6 or 8 hours, give the dough a good folding for about fifteen seconds.

2. After 18 hours, the dough will be batter-like and spongy. Use a rubber spatula and fold it over on itself a few times. (This is the equivalent of punching it down, I guess).

3. At least a half hour before the dough is ready, heat the oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (Le Crueset, cast iron, enamel, Pyrex, or ceramic) in the oven as it heats.

4. When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven. Sprinkle flour in the pot (this will keep the loaf from sticking). Slide the dough into the pot. Sprinkle some flour on top of the dough, (along with a dusting of cumin seeds or rosemary and a dash of coarse salt, for instance). Cover it with a lid and let it bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and let it bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the loaf is beautifully browned. Let it cool on a rack.

Yields one 1-½-pound loaf

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7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 karen // Sep 15, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    I have the same opinion on bakers v. cooks! I can only make bread under direct supervision. I think maybe I could manage this recipe on my own, but I don’t have an oven proof 6-8 qt. covered pot. Money is very tight, but in general I’d always rather invest in something that will last. Do you have any recommendations for something more affordable than Le Crueset that is decent quality?

  • 2 Jennifer // Sep 15, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    Has anybody ever made this with gluten-free flour? Thanks!

  • 3 Tyson // May 22, 2011 at 3:56 am

    Somehow I managed to botch this one when I tried it a few months ago– instead of ending up with the batter after 18 hours, it was more like a glutinous liquidy mass sliding ominously towards the edge of the counter. Now rereading your recipe, I have to wonder, why was the dough ever ON the counter? Next time, I’m not letting it out of the bowl.

  • 4 Rachel // Aug 8, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Thanks so much for this recipe! I know I might be a little late to the party… but I just made this and although it was delicious, it really didn’t rise properly while baking (my loaf turned out flattish… wouldv’e made the worlds smallest sandwich haha). I believe I followed the recipe properly, using the correct yeast and letting it rest and rise. Any ideas? Would appreciate any suggestions at all since the taste was amazing and I would definitely like to make again :-)

  • 5 Stephanie // May 7, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    You guys are my heros – and demi-gods in our house – for this recipe! How is it that you managed to come up with a variation that doesn’t require dirtying a single towel or finger? I’ve made this twice since I stumbled across this old post last Friday, and I will mix up another batch tonight. Fresh bread in the morning while getting everyone ready for school/work? Genius! Thank you so much!

  • 6 Heather // Dec 22, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Karen – I have a much more affordable suggestion (I settled after asking for a Le Creuset for years and years and years . . . someday I’ll get one). I have had great luck with a Lodge brand dutch oven I purchased at Target ( http://www.target.com/p/6qt-cast-iron-covered-casserole-pot/-/A-14345909#prodSlot=medium_1_1). There are some even less expensive un-glazed ones. I’ve used it every week for nearly a year and it still looks brand new. Good luck!

  • 7 Susanne V // Mar 28, 2014 at 10:47 am

    I’ve made this several times and it is a big hit in our family. Although I also have the problem of it being very wet and there is no way I can shape it into a ball (my recipe says to shape it into a ball and put it seam down on a well floured cotton towel for two hours. Just saw that this step is not in your recipe…). I was wondering if your dough is also very wet and if this is normal. I was very frustrated a few minutes ago with this messy dough!

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