10 January 2010

No-Knead to panic, just bring your towel

no knead bread

Hello, there! This recipe has been talked about before on here, though I never cared for the pictures. Since I made this loaf for our traditional New Year's Eve fondue, I snapped better ones and I'm going to talk about it once again.

So yes, the "debate" about no-knead bread, and the carryover to Artisan in Five recipes, is that the fun of baking bread is lost if you don't get your hands messy (I actually feel that way about bread machines because you work with the dough even less than this). Even for someone who likes to bake, like me, I can appreciate a good loaf that's quick to make and produces knockout results. I'm not necessarily trading learning techniques for the easy route, I just want something I don't have to think about and fits around my schedule.

And for not requiring much hand-on time, this does just that. The crust is excellent and the crumb texture is outstanding. My only complaint was that it seemed a bit gummy. I fixed that this time by adding about 1/4 cup additional flour. The dough wasn't as shaggy, but it rose just the same and was a bit easier to work with during the folding period. The crust seemed a bit more egg shell-like than the loaf I made for comparison with the regular amount of flour.

crumb shot

Beautiful. Tastes amazing plain, toasted, as croutons or as a platform for toppings. You just can't go wrong with this recipe.

No-Knead Bread
Recipe by Jim Lahey on Martha Stewart

My notes: I mixed the salt with the water before adding it to the flour and yeast. I've seen many recipes lately saying to mix the salt with the instant yeast, and my general knowledge is that salt kills yeast, though maybe it doesn't affect instant yeast the same as active dried yeast. Whatever the reason, I just mix it with the water. And I use kosher salt.

Instead of wheat bran, I use rice flour to dust the cotton towel and the top of the bread. I find that the loaf doesn't absorb rice flour as it does wheat flour. Carry on.

ingredients ~

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for work surface
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Olive oil, as needed
Cornmeal or wheat bran, as needed (optional)

directions ~
  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast, and salt. Add 1 1/2 cups water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Coat a second large bowl with olive oil. Transfer dough to oiled bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, but preferably up to 18, in a room about 70 degrees in temperature. When surface is dotted with bubbles, dough is ready.

  2. Lightly flour work surface. Place dough on work surface and sprinkle with more flour. Fold the dough over on itself once or twice. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

  3. Sprinkle just enough flour over work surface and your fingers to keep dough from sticking; quickly and gently shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, cornmeal, or wheat bran; place dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, cornmeal, or wheat bran. Cover with a second cotton towel and let rise until it has more than doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with a finger, about 2 hours.

  4. After about 1 1/2 hours, preheat oven to 500 degrees. Place a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot, such as cast-iron or Pyrex, in oven as it heats. When dough has fully risen, carefully remove pot from oven. Remove top towel from dough and slide your hand under the bottom towel; turn dough over into pot, seam side up. Shake pan once or twice if dough looks unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover, and bake 30 minutes. Uncover, and continue baking until browned, 15 to 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.


  1. Nice job on the bread. I know what you mean about the "no knead" club, and I'm glad it's starting to churn out some really stellar loaves. There is something about getting flour on your hands and on the counter though... like therapeutic :)

  2. wow, look at the crust of that loaf!! there is something fun about getting dough all over your hands, isn't there? :)

  3. Mmm, I agree about missing the tactile sensations in the making this type of bread, but this sounds pretty darn good. I will have to give it a go sometime.

    As I understand it, the salt and yeast really can't interact when in the dry forms. Thus mixing the salt and yeast with other dry ingredients doesn't result in killing the yeast. In any case, I haven't had any issues by combining it that way.

  4. Your bread looks really good -- the crust is beautiful. I tried the no-knead just once before, but now I'm tempted to try again.

  5. Adam ~ It really is. I think instead of therapy sessions in a study-type setting, they need to get into the kitchen.

    Shannon ~ That's what I said, haha! Yep, bread baking is always a fun time, especially seeing the dough do it's thing.

    Justin ~ Definitely try it, at least once. It's a great addition to your standard bread recipes, too.

    Ah, that makes sense. Thanks for the explanation!

    Caitlyn ~ I forgot to mention the crackly sound the bread makes immediately after it comes out of the oven!

    Definitely give it another go.

  6. Since I've been hitch-hiking the galaxy I have always brought my towel.


Thanks for taking the time to comment. Your thoughts are appreciated! ^,^


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