Tuesday, March 15, 2011

No-Knead Bread

One of my baker friends recently supplied me with some formulas for no-knead bread. I've observed this technique of baking crusty artisan bread before but simply haven't done my own experimenting yet. My thought process is if I can get more people to try this super easy method of baking crusty bread then surely I can get them hooked on quality artisan bread. I would assume that most people don't bake their own artisan bread because it takes a lot of dedication, a bit of knowledge, and usually a sourdough starter of some form. Is that assumption correct?

This method of bread making includes no kneading. That's right, no standing over the mixer or kneading by hand guessing at how well you've accomplished the kneading task. There is no need to keep track of that sourdough in the back of the fridge and wonder whether it's still good. No-knead is simply that, no kneading involved. The formula I used is basic and requires an overnight rest period. It took approximately 15 minutes to put together and another 30 minutes of time the following day to shape and then get into the oven. Easy.

Not so Magic Ingredients:

  • Bread flour - 300 grams (2 1/4 cup)
  • Whole Wheat flour - 100 grams (3/4 cup)
  • Salt - 8 grams (1 1/4 teaspoon)
  • Yeast, instant - 2 grams (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Water, cool - 300 grams (1 1/3 cup)
You'll notice that I do my baking measurements in weight instead of cups. This is such a more precise measurement and I highly encourage all to invest in a handy dandy scale!

  1. Stir together flours, salt, and yeast. Add the cool water and mix until you have a wet sticky dough, about 30 seconds. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temp until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the surface is more than doubled in size, 12-18 hours.
  2. When the first rise is complete, dust a work surface with whole wheat flour. Scrape the dough out of the bowl and using floured hands or a bowl scraper, lift the edges of the dough in toward the center. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round. (Mine was fairly easy to work with and I easily rounded it, being cautious not to deflate too many fermentation bubbles.)
  3. Place a tea towel on a work surface or in a bowl and generously dust with flour or corn meal. Place the dough on the towel, seam side down. Dust the top of the loaf and fold the towel over the loaf. Place in a warm, draft free place for 1-2 hours. (I did mine in a fairly cool environment for 3 hours.) The dough is ready when it is almost doubled. If you gently poke it with your finger, it should hold the impression. If it springs back, let it continue rising.
  4. Preheat your oven well in advance to 475 degrees. Position the rack on lower third of the oven and insert a heavy 5 quart pot in the oven to preheat. "I allowed my cast iron pot to preheat for 30 minutes so that is was nice and hot." 
  5. Be very careful to remove the pot from the oven and remove the lid. Unfold the towel and quickly but gently invert the dough into the pot, seam side up. Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep chestnut color, 15-30 minutes more. Be careful when removing and cool on a rack. (I completely failed to do this last step. My loaf was definitely starting to burn on the bottom so I took it out. I should have raised the rack shelf and completed the final step to get a darker color on the top of the loaf. Oops, I was definitely excited to eat it and it was fabulous even a bit under-baked!)
Post mix
Post long ferment and shaped

You can tell I went a little flour happy on the dusting and
 it could have used more baking time for a deeper color.
Nice open crumb is good. 

Credit for this master formula goes to Jim Lahey, author of "My Bread." Check out his formula that I found online after I typed all this up. Although this does require time, though most of it hands-off time, it is so well worth it. Please do give it a try and let me know how no-knead artisan bread baking goes for you!


  1. Beautiful no-knead bread Amanda! You get those people hooked!

  2. Yeah, too bad I forgot to bake it a final 15-30 minutes. Still beautiful.

  3. I made this a couple weeks ago! I used a little bit more ww flour, though. We ate it with cheeseburger soup! Yummy!