No Knead bread – it works

May 9, 2015 Published by Dina 10 Comments

There is something special about baking bread. Something artisanal and historical in creating a fragrant and crusty loaf out of simple ingredients, the same way cooks have been doing for thousands of years.

I have always made bread the traditional way, making the dough, kneading it to develop elasticity and letting it rise long and slow in a warm corner of the kitchen, sometimes overnight in the fridge. I have made a sour dough starter and kept it going for while and learned to bake the bread on stone in a very hot oven with some humidity to create a beautiful crust and chewy crumb.


No knead bread

No knead bread


One thing I have never tried is making the no-knead bread. I have read about it and saw enticing images but somehow it didn’t click with me until now. The other day I came across a recipe for a no knead bread on the NYT and for some reason got the urge to try it. I was amazed by the results. I have made it twice now because I had to tweak the recipe a little (needed less water). A quick internet search showed that all the recipes use the same ingredients: 3 cups flour, 1/4 teaspoon yeast, 1.5 teaspoon salt. That’s it. The NYT recipe called for 1 5/8 cups water and that was too much, creating a dough that was too sticky and didn’t quite hold together (it still worked, I just added more flour). When I made it again with 1.5 cups water it worked perfectly without having to add more flour except for the usual sprinkling and the loaf rose beautifully in the oven (the first one didn’t rise as much, but was still delicious)..

I watched the NYT youtube video of Chef Mark Bitman visiting Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Bakery in NY, who demonstrated making this bread at his bakery. Lahey, a legendary baker and author of several books on bread says to bake the bread at 500F or even higher if your oven permits. The NYT recipe says 450F. I ended up baking it at 475F and got a beautiful crisp and chewy crust and lovely country style porous crumb.

Here are the secrets to making this bread:


 

  • A long initial rest/rise of about 18 hours. This is when the bread develops the flavours.
  • A very hot oven, preheated to 475-500F for an hour before baking.
  • A cast iron pot with a lid preheated  in the oven until it is very hot.
  • Drop the dough into the hot pot seam side up so it has room to expand.
  • Bake the bread in the preheated cast iron pot for 30 minutes with the lid on.
  • Finish the cooking with the lid off for another 15 minutes to let the loaf turn golden.
  • Let the loaf cool for a few minutes before slicing it (as if that’s going to happen).

 

I would venture to say it’s a no fail, easy to follow recipe. Even if the loaf looks a little different, it’s still delicious.

Adapted from Jim Lahey Sullivan Street Bakery.


 

Ingredients:


 

Just mixed

Just mixed

3 cup all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon instant style dry yeast

1.5 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1.5 cups water

 

Directions:

 

Place flour, yeast and salt in a bow and mix.

Add the water all at once and mix it into the flour by hand or with a wooden spoon. Just mix until combined, there will be flour left on the sides of the bowl and that’s fine. You can leave it in the same bowl (Lahey does), or place it in a clean bowl (I do).

18 hours

18 hours

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm spot in the kitchen for 18 hours undisturbed.

The dough will rise and  fill the bowl and the top of the dough will be bubbly.

When you are ready to proceed sprinkle flour on the counter and pour the dough onto the floured surface. You will see the gluten in the stringy texture of the dough as you pour it out of the bowl.

Sprinkle a little flour over the sticky dough and fold the four sides over into the center.

Line a bowl with a cotton towel or parchment paper and sprinkle with flour.

Lift the dough and place in the bowl seam side down. You will want the seam to be side up when you bake the bread, so it has room to expand.

Folded over

Folded over

Let the dough rest 2 hours.

An hour before you are ready to bake turn the oven on to 475F and place the cast iron pot in the over to heat.

When it’s time to bake remove the pot from the oven carefully and set the lid aside. Sprinkle flour into the bottom of the pot.

Lift the dough from the bowl (it’s sticky, don’t worry about the shape) and drop it into the hot pot seam side up.

Cover with a lid and return to the oven.

Bake for 30 minutes covered with the lid, then remove the lid and continue baking uncovered for another 15 minutes to let the crust brown.

Remove from the oven and carefully lift the bread from the pot and place on a rack.

 

Final rise

Final rise

To serve:

 

Let cool a little before slicing (as if….)

Enjoy with sweet butter or olive oil drizzle.

Yum.

 

 

 


Just baked no knead bread

Just baked no knead bread

No knead bread

No knead bread

Just baked no lnead bread

Just baked no knead bread

No knead bread

No knead bread


10 Comments

  • Carola says:

    Rising as I write. Expecting great things. It was very easy so far. Just one question about the 1.5 cups of water…….. Cold, tepid or heated water.

  • Catherine says:

    Hi!

    I’ve been making this bread for several years now and finally worked out a recipe, very similar, with same results but even less work… No cast iron needed for baking!

    These are the measurements I use, everything else (except for the baking method) is the same as indicated here:

    4 cup all purpose flour (I really like King Arthur’s brand)

    1/4 teaspoon instant style dry yeast

    1.5 to 2 teaspoon sea salt

    1.5 to 2 cups water at room temperature

    Baking method:

    Pre heat oven to 425F, use dough to shape 2 loaves of bread and place on lined cookie sheet (you can line it with non-stick aluminium foil or coarse corn meal – I use the non-stick aluminium foill most of the time). The bread is usually baked in 25 min.. Check your oven. It works wonderfully every time!

    • Dina says:

      Hi Catherine, thank you for the information and the recipe. It sounds like a no fail method for making this bread. We are travelling at the moment but will give it a try when we get back home. The corn meal on the bottom probably makes a nice bottom crust. Thanks for sharing.

  • Berenice says:

    Hi Dina,
    I made your bread the other day and it is very, very good.
    The next day I made bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches using the left over bread, and it toasted up crunchy and very tasty, love it and will definitely make this recipe again and again. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe. I purchased a Henckel cast iron pot and I can see how I will be using this pot for many things food related in the future. Thanks again Dina.

    • Dina says:

      Berenice, so nice to see you visiting the blog. I am glad the bread worked for you, I was totally inspired by this method of bread making. I haven’t tried the Henckel cast iron pot but they make such great cookware that I am sure it’s wonderful. Nice to hear from you. Ciao.

  • Huan says:

    Hi,

    Thanks for the recipe n great tips.
    Just wondering can I bake it in a ceramic pot instead of caste iron pot.
    Will the outcome be the same?

    • Dina says:

      Hi Huan, I have only baked it in a cast iron but ceramic may work if it is heated up prior to placing the dough in it. You’ll just have to try it. Thanks for the comment.

  • Barbara says:

    Wow! Thankyou for this easy bread recipe that looks so amazing. I appreciate the comprehensive instructions and tips for success. Will definitely try this – have to go out and buy the cast iron pot with lid but it will be worth it to have delicious homemade bread.

    • Dina says:

      Hi Barb, I loved the bread. If you buy a pot I recommend Le Creuset enamelled caste iron. I cook everything in it. XO.

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