bread without a mixet

No-Knead Bread, with serrated knife, banneton, salted butter

I recently posted on twitter that I don’t believe in no-knead bread, the phenomenon started by Jim Lahey—chef of the excellent pizza restaurant Co., and owner of Sullivan St. Bakery in Manhattan, and author of My Bread—when Mark Bittman wrote about Lahey’s no-knead technique in The New York Times. (Here’s Lahey’s no-knead bread recipe.)

After tweeting, I almost immediately received an email from Nick Fox, a New York Times Dining editor, perplexed. The next day Bittman DM’d me on Twitter asking why? Jeff Hertzberg, an author of the popular Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, RT’d my comment, adding “Say it ain’t so!” Not long after that the eminent author and Vogue columnist, Jeffrey Steingarten, in an unrelated email, asked me what I had against no-knead bread.

Time to address the issue.

The fact is I had only made no-knead bread once, from the Bittman column.  It was not notably attractive (my sourdough boule is as attractive as it gets in my kitchen). Nor was the flavor particularly noteworthy. What was spectacular, however, was the flavor and texture of the crust. Lahey had come up with the idea of baking bread in a cast iron enamel Dutch oven. Enclosing the wet dough in such a confined space mimicked the effects of a steam injection oven by trapping the moisture released by the dough. I don’t know the physical reason this results in amazing crust but it does.

This is the revolutionary discovery that should forever elevate the quantity of homemade bread.

My one and only loaf was insipid, but my beef with the technique was ideological. What was so great about not kneading bread?  I like to knead bread.  Ten minutes spent kneading, either by hand or warming my hands on my dutiful Kitchen Aid mixer while it worked away, allowed time for unhurried reflection.

Moreover though, wasn’t this whole no-knead business a tacit suggestion that we’d all be making bread on a regular basis if it weren’t so difficult?  Now, the no-knead advocates were in effect telling us, we’ve figured out a trick to make it easy for you, you helpless wannabe. Real bread is too hard, too complex, too difficult to make at home. Here’s a way around those mountains, once insurmountable by you little helpless home cooks.

Nonsense. Bread at home is easy and if you want to make it, mix five parts flour with three parts water by weight, add a couple big pinches of yeast and salt, mix till elastic, let rise, knead, shape, rise, bake.

I told Nick Fox this and he mainly agreed, disarming me completely by saying the no-knead bread wasn’t necessarily easier; it involved more steps and certainly took more time, but that it did result in an especially tasty loaf of bread.

I’d had a similar back-and-forth with Hertzberg.  He directed me to the recipe on their site, artisanbreadinfive, telling me to ignore the aside about fresh yeast and use dry yeast. What I love about his technique is that you mix up a batch of dough then keep it refrigerated, even for a week or two, cutting off a piece when ever you want bread.  You can have bread on the table two hours after wanting it. My first effort was disappointing, flat, shapeless, unlovely, but the crumb was not bad. A couple days later, having not touched the remaining dough, I did it again, and the results were excellent.

When Steingarten wrote to me that he makes his version of Lahey’s bread a couple times a week, I asked for his recipe, which he dutifully sent along. I’ve revised it a little and put the flour into weights rather than volume. Steingarten uses spelt flour on the cutting board in the proofing basket, which I recommend for flavor and appearance; Lahey uses bran and no proofing basket. This is up to you. I recommend proofing it in a banneton if you have one or a bowl lined with a cloth napkin heavily dusted with flour or bran.

The following bread is indeed very flavorful, requires very little effort and 24 hours from mixing to baking. (If using grams, stick with grams; if using ounces, use ounces don’t use the ounces of water and grams of flour as they’re slightly different.)

I’m officially now a fan of no-knead breads, but not because they’re any easier than kneaded breads. I’m a fan because they’re satisfying to make and to eat.

Michael Ruhlman’s Version of Jeffrey Steingarten’s Version of Jim Lahey’s (According to Steingarten) “Miracle Bread”

  • 500 grams or 15 ounces bread flour (3 cups)
  • 10 grams or 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 to 4 grams or 1/2 teaspoon active dry or instant yeast
  • 430 grams or 13 ounces water (1-1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons)
  • plenty of extra spelt flour or extra bread flour for coating work surface and during proofing
  1. Combine all the ingredients except the extra flour or bran for dusting in a large bowl.  Mix it with a wooden spoon still all ingredients are thoroughly combined
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise at warm room temperature for about 14 to 20 hours.
  3. Heavily flour your work surface with spelt flour or bread flour.  Pour and pull out the dough, which will spread into a blob onto your work surface.  Let it rest there for ten to twenty minutes.
  4. From here on [these final steps are verbatim from Steingarten’s recipe] handle the dough very gently so that the structure of internal bubbles is left undisturbed and the dough is not compressed.  Now, slide your fingers, palms up, under the blob and stretch it into a rough square about 12 inches on a side.  Dust it with a little spelt flour.  Let the dough rest, loosely covered with the same piece of plastic wrap, for a half-hour.  Even longer is better.
  5. Rub the inside of the rising basket with ample quantities of spelt flour [Note from MR: you can use a banneton or a bowl lined with a heavily floured cloth napkin].  Now form the loaf:  Bring one corner of the square of dough about 2/3 of the way to the opposite corner, gently pressing it down.  Repeat with the next corner, clockwise; continue with the other two corners.  Now, you’ll have a puffy square, looking perhaps like a Danish pastry.  If a flap of dough sticks out in any direction, fold it halfway over the loaf.  Amply dust the loaf with spelt flour.
  6. Now, with both hands, gently lift this puffy package of dough, invert it, and lower into the center of the rising basket.  Sprinkle the top of the dough, now really a round loaf, with a little spelt flour.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap, tucking it in here and there.  Let it rise for 2 ½ hours.
  7. Halfway through the rise, put the casserole into the oven, on the highest shelf that will accommodate it; lean the casserole cover against it; and turn the temperature to its highest setting, probably 500-550 degrees F/260-288 degrees C.   In my oven, to avoid excessive direct heat from burning the bottom of the loaf, I first put a baking stone on the oven shelf and three layers of silicone insulators.
  8. When another ninety-minutes have passed (for a total of 2 ½ hours’ rise), open the oven and pull out the oven shelf.  Remove the plastic wrap from the rising basket and loosen the loaf all around from the basket.  Bring it over to the casserole, and steadying the loaf with your other hand, invert the loaf into the center of the casserole.  This may take some practice.  Shake the casserole sideways if the loaf needs to be neatened.  Cover the casserole, close the oven, and bake for 30 minutes.
  9. Uncover the casserole and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes until the loaf is a handsome, very dark brown.  The loaf will be loose in the casserole and easy to remove, most easily by inverting it.  Let the loaf cool, bottom down, on the rack for two hours, when it will be barely warm to the touch.

This makes one delicious loaf of no-knead bread.

If you liked this post on no-knead bread recipes, check out these other posts:

© 2011 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2011 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved.


94 Wonderful responses to “No-Knead Bread: A Convert’s Story”

  • melissa

    I’m so glad to see this! I’ve been an ABi5 fan for a while now and when you tweeted that I mused aloud that “I love @ruhlman but he and I are going to have to agree to disagree.” Honestly, while I love kneading pasta dough and cheese curds, I’ve never gotten any particular enjoyment out of kneading bread dough. So I guess I don’t have the emotional attachment to that part of it that some others seem to. And that’s great for those people–you should do what brings you do the most enjoyment.

    After having done this a few years I can definitely tell you that storing the dough for even a day (but better for a few days) brings out the best flavor. If you think about it, that’s basically what you do with kneaded dough too–it just sits out longer rather than sitting in the fridge.

    You can also do a lot more than just bread if you have dough just lying around in the fridge. I make pizza and flatbreads with the same dough on a regular basis, with equally delicious results.

  • Jeanne

    I never thought of the potential covert messages in the no-knead bread phenomenon. And I agree–It’s not that bread takes so long or is so hard to make. As a life-long baker who was diagnosed with gluten-intolerance 11 years ago, I have mourned the fact that gf bread isn’t kneaded (the dough is more like batter and there’s no gluten to develop), so I always sigh a bit when folks herald the concept of no-knead bread.

    I have to say, the crusts on Lahey’s bread in his book don’t look that appetizing. They look burnt and dry and too hard. But, I don’t have the luxury of trying them (sigh), so I don’t know how yummy (or not) they are.

    Regardless of the messages one might get about no-knead bread, I am intrigued by the chemistry of them. I attended a session by Peter Reinhart and Nancy Baggett at IACP last year on their no-knead breads and was intrigued by the concept of letting time allow the enzymes to do their work and provide a more flavorful bread. I’ve been experimenting with this ever since in my yeasted gf breads. I used your method of capturing wild yeast from red cabbage and developed a recipe for gf sourdough from that. It’s been an interesting experience to delve into the chemistry of bread making from a gf point of view.

    • jkdrummer

      Lahey’s crusts are crunchy and have a fantastic flavor compared to bread doughs made the same day. He uses wheat germ flakes on his loaves — which is totally optional.

  • Sandra McKenzie

    A young niece of mine who wants to learn how to make bread is coming over this weekend for some lessons. I’m thinking of starting her with the no-knead bread, both for its simplicity and for the pretty good (though not excellent, IMO) results. Anyone with other ideas for a neophyte baker, please let me know.

    • ruhlman

      i would actually start her on a kneaded dough so that she understands the principle of gluten. have a look at my bread baking basics post

    • Julia

      Try the book “Kneadlessy Simple ” by Nancy Baggett. The breads are easy and very delicious, but most need a very long rise time…like 10 + hours.

  • Three-Cookies

    I think another differentiating factor is that it is possible to have much more water in no-knead bread, making the bread much more airy with larger air pockets.

  • Warren Henning

    I saw the no-knead bread recipe as the *opposite* of what you articulated above. To me, it’s a gateway into the wider world of breadmaking. I’m having a lot of fun trying out new ways to make bread beyond what I started with.

    It’s a failure of people like Martha Stewart and Mark Bittman that they focused almost exclusively on the active time involved (time spent kneading = 0) and ignored the flavor benefits that long fermentation times confer, which I think is the *real* motivation Lahey and others like him had when artisan bread as a whole shifted towards breadmaking that emphasizes relatively longer bulk fermentation times and shaping/folding techniques over traditional kneading.

    • Art

      Exactly. The “no-knead” name is an unfortunate bit of misdirection. The absence of kneading is the least noteworthy of the three features of this loaf, below the flavor afforded by long fermentation and the texture of the steam bake.

      My family is addicted to this bread and badgers me if I get behind on making it.

  • jkdrummer

    What’s not to “believe in”? Jim Lahey gave me the means to produce the best bread I’ve ever made in my 30 yrs of cooking. It’s a simple process that gives me the bread I want with very little “work”. I’ve spread his method and recipe at every pot-luck I’ve attended too.

  • Chappy

    I have to disagree that no knead bread isn’t any easier. It is. I too like kneading, but no-knead takes about 8-10 minutes of kneading off the table. If you measure easier as less time consuming. (Sorry, I’m an economist).

  • kakaty

    2 weekends ago I set out to make bread. I made 4 loaves of a standard white sandwhich bread for my daughter’s PB&Js, 2 loaves of a honey oatmeal bread and tried no-knead bread.

    I have to say that while the outcome of all the breads was very good, my favorite was the honey oatmeal bread while my husband prefered the no-knead (which was very good). As the one making the bread I actaully found the no-knead fussy. And while traditional bread is by no means “instant gratification” I thought the wait for the no-knead was way too long for my impatient self. I’d make it again but I still prefer traditional breads

    • jkdrummer

      Oh dear lord, save us from the labors of dusting dough with wheat bran and proofing in a towel! The horrors!

      • Babette @BabetteBakes

        I just happen to agree with both Cook’s Illustrated and Rose Levy Berenbaum that Lahey’s method is unnecessarily fussy, and by the way, not the best tasting of the bunch.

        • jasi

          i agree. i’d rather have my hands in it and treat the dough more roughly than carefully folding and towel proofing. just my preference.

  • bob del Grosso

    No-knead bread can be very good indeed. However, at the end of the day it’s only ONE way to make ONE style of loaf and so I think it’s best to think of it just another hand tool in the toolkit but certainly not a replacement for kneaded bread. It’s like sous vide or combi oven cookery, nothing more or less than an another option for broadly skilled cooks to add to their repertoires of cooking techniques. Also like these latter technologies, its relative ease of operation allows those who are just learning to cook the confidence to proceed to other more difficult techniques, albeit at a much lower cost of entry.

    One question about no-knead that i’d like answered has to do with how well does it translate to a production environment. I mean, if you wanted to open a no-knead bakery, what would you have to do to make that work?

    • Carri

      Any high hydration dough can be considered no knead in my book, such as the ciabatta I shared last month. Besides the ciabatta we make at the bakery we also produce a multigrain loaf that is made in a similar fashion. It does not have to baked in a dutch oven to be fully successful, you just need a way to create a steamy environment, which our brick oven does nicely. Again I defer to Chad of Tartine Bread for a better commercial view of the process.

    • iliana

      I wanted to add my appreciation, Michael, to your openness to changing your mind on this, and to address Bob’s question about production. I am by no means a large-scale producer, but I do bake up to two dozen loaves for my local farmer’s market once a week during summer, and for a few customers during the winter.

      My kitchen is tiny, and I’m baking in a ridiculously small efficiency-sized oven. During summer, it can be brutally hot & humid up here in Vermont, but adapting the no-knead method has worked brilliantly for me. My customers love my bread enough to get to market early so they don’t miss out! I suspect that Bob is curious about a much larger-scale operation than mine, but this is my little micro-experience.

      One tweak that has made a radical improvement in the texture and gluten development of my bread was suggested by my occasional baking mentor and farmer’s market regular Jeffrey Hamelman: I mix up my ingredients and set it to proof for an hour. Then I take the dough out of its bucket and do 15 to 20 folds, essentially kneading the bread, and then I plop it back in the bucket for the last hour of rising. This really improved the structure of my crumb.

      After tasting my bread, Jeffrey also suggested upping my salt, which I did, and it was pretty remarkable how much more complex the overall flavor of the bread was. Ah, beloved salt 🙂

      Another point: I use the basic Hertzberg & co. recipe as a jumping off point. The ratio is essentially theirs, but I adapted it to use locally grown Vermont wheat and oats (which I grind), as well as an organic medium to finely ground 10-grain cereal. I did this initially because I’m diabetic, and I want a bread that is slower to metabolize than a bread with entirely finely milled flour. So, I think there is a good opportunity, in fact, to make quite a few distinct types of bread using this method.

      • Chappy

        Am I reading this correctly? You say you get fold after the first hour and then proof for another. Doesn’t this mean only a couple hours of rise? (This seems short to me for a no knead recipe).

        • iliana

          Chappy: two hours of rising at room temperature, and for farmer’s market bread, 24 hours in the fridge. For my own bread, I’ve risen for 2 hours, shaped, and then proofed for an additional half hour or so, and then baked, and produced delightful bread. More often the dough cold-rises in the fridge for longer, and it just gets better up until a week and a half or so, at which point bread starts to lose the ability to achieve a good oven-spring. Even then I find that a bit of folding before final proofing helps.

    • ruhlman

      good question bob. any bakers know? and what about making a no knead pizza dough?

      • Chappy

        I’ll bet there isn’t a no knead pizza dough. The high hydration makes it too slack. Now if you’re looking for a long ferment dough, Nate Appleman has one. He only uses 1/4 teaspoon of yeast and it takes about 2 days in the fridge. I’ve made it and had good results, but frankly I get the same ‘sour’ flavor by making a dough similar to your dough, but leaving it in the fridge for up to a week.

        • Chappy

          Well, I’d call a food processor action kneading, but who cares if it requires very little time or effort. Thanks for this, I make pizza dough nearly every week and this looks to be a major time saver!

      • cara_mia

        There’s a recipe for it in Lahey’s book, “My Bread”. (My favorite bread from the book, btw, is the Pan Co’ Santi.)

      • andy

        I did it the other day- I just halved Bittman’s recipe and after a 24 hour fermentation punched it down (the morning of) and later that afternoon baked it on a cast iron griddle. I actually baked it for 5 minutes at about 450º, pulled it out, flipped the pizza on the griddle, added the topping, and baked the whole works for another 20 minutes. Who needs a pizza stone if the pan you’re using is a quarter inch thick slab of iron?

      • Bruce Ezzell

        I think the primary issue would be the volume of covered containers to bake the bread in. Personally, I wouldn’t trade the time consumed by kneading with the potential burn hazards of fiddling with 500 degree dutch ovens. 🙂
        That said, NKB is a technique, ancient & effective and capable of producing a tasty bread or a lifeless bread, just as any other technique that involves kneading can do the same. For the bakers who spend huge amounts of time documenting their efforts on baking blogs (ambient temps, how many times the dough was folded at a 90 degree angle as opposed to a 45, etc.) the NKB technique seems like a cheat and poor shortcut to a pretend bread However, I look at Carri’s ciabatta recipe you posted a couple of weeks back (which is fabulous and full of deep flavor) and say, “But look at this?! It didn’t require hours of kneading.” I don’t think those of us who bake in volume would find it effective because of the extra equipment and, frankly, the hazards involved. I burn myself enough as it is baking 200+ loaves a week and don’t want to multiply that by handling multiple dutch ovens. And I don’t have the room for that many dutch ovens.
        No-knead is a technique and might be a time-saver for some, though I can teach you to bake delicious kneaded breads that effectively take no more time. It is not one-size-fits-all however.

  • latenac

    No knead gave me more confidence to bake bread more and to branch out to recipes that require kneading. I do find also that it has a better taste than faster bread recipes. Although I’m trying to work up to making my own sourdough starter. I prefer to dust with cornmeal though. It adds a nice flavor to the bread.

    • jkdrummer

      I totally agree! I made Michael’s bagel recipe last weekend. I would have never attempted that without having first made a good loaf of bread like the no-knead. Let’s not be a kneading-snob Michael.

  • Paul

    OK … so bread is what I do best and my son is a pro. No-knead, as others have suggested, is simply one way that many artisan bakers do long-fermentation. Calling it “No-knead” is just a way to market it to regular folks. Is folding the same as kneading? Not really but many high-hydration doughs are folded rather than kneaded (see the Tartine bread book for the way in which one of the most respected breads in the country is put together.) So, there are lots of great breads that do not get kneaded as kneading is commonly thought of. IN the spectrum of breads, No-knead is just not so distinctive as you make it out Michael.

    BTW … I too do the dutch oven thing with lots of my breads because I do not have a high-thermal-mass, steam-injected oven and the dutch oven is a great substitute.

    • ruhlman

      interesting. if bittman and the times had billed it as a long fermentation bread, i’d have been more enthusiastic about it from the beginning!

      • cara_mia

        I thought they kind of did that… The title being “The Secret of Great Bread – Let Time Do the Work”. Though it *was* the MINIMALIST column, and Bittman is lazy, so focusing on the minimal effort made sense. (Watch his videos, he will tell you. Especially when he did a sped up version of No-Knead bread.)

  • Karen

    I make “speedy” no knead bread. It requires a rise of “only” 4 hours. Lately I’ve been experimenting by using rye and whole wheat fours along with white. I’ve also added sunflower seeds, millet, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, caraway seeds, poppy seeds, oat meal and oat bran in various mixtures. It turns out wonderfully every time. I have a large and a small Dutch oven and make large or small loaves depending on my needs. The large loaf totals 4 cups of flour and the small loaf 3.

  • Nancy Baggett

    Okay, I admit that as some might colorfully, if crudely, say, “I have a dog in this fight.” I’ve authored Kneadlessly Simple, which is, as the name suggests, a no-knead bread book. With that stated, let me address several HUGE misconceptions many have about “kneadless” breads (at least my recipes and Jim Lahey’s versions):

    1. These no-knead breads actually have tons of gluten development because as the slightly soft dough sits at room temp over many hours, the bubbling of fermentation actually bounces the glutenin and gliadin around so they hook up and form gluten. Several commercial bakers have told me that the gluten development they’ve seen in my “micro-kneaded” dough is more than most folks ever manage to develop by hand (and often even by machine). In other words, these doughs “self-knead;” they are nothing like the “batter” breads some are familiar with.

    2. My kneadless breads (and others incorporating the retarded first fermentation step) are often far more flavorful than “traditionally prepared” breads because, like artisan poolish and biga loaves, they use very little yeast and allow enough time for fermentation produce the alcohols that are responsible for a lot of good bread aroma and flavor. The retarded first fermentation method–in which the dough is mixed with ice cold water that initially retards yeast activity–has the added benefit of giving many flour enzymes that improve dough texture and flavor time to do their work without competition from the yeast. This, too, helps produce loaves with a depth of flavor and aroma notes almost never found using the traditional, or “straight” method.

    3. The view that the no-knead is some new cheater’s way is incorrect. As Jim Lahey has also pointed out, wheat doughs were doubtless originally made just by mixing together flour, salt, yeast or barm of some sort, and water. Once the mixture ripened and swelled over a day or so, it was then formed into loaves, risen again, and baked. Professional bakers hit upon a way of speeding up the completely natural process to get bread to their consumers faster–it was called kneading. Incidentally, noted bread chemist Dr. Carl Hoseney says that in remote parts of the world where the Industrial Revolution has not yet come, people still make bread the natural no-knead way.

    I have a lot more info and recipes on my site on this topic, as well as result of a survey done for Fleischmann’s yeast on the acceptance of no-knead by customers. I hope you’ll come take a look!

    Happy Baking!

  • Barry

    I make some variant of Jim Lahey’s bread 2-4 times a week for my family and have for over a year. It’s all about taste and texture. Baking bread is not hard, as MR says, and not nearly as time-consuming as some people seem to think. If you like doing something, the time factor is a secondary issue. Baking GOOD artisanal bread consistently is harder, however. Lahey’s method, for me, made it happen, and I’m grateful.

    I really like his book, too. The Pizza Patate is amazingly good, by the way.

    Recently visited his bakery on a NYC vacation and had some great bread at the source.

    I’m surprised this is even a controversial topic.

  • Natalie Sztern

    I am in the process of read Jeffrey Steingarten’s second book after consuming his first. I can say with total honesty: Jeffrey Steingarten is my food guru. I enjoyed this post.

  • Kathy

    I haven’t kneaded bread in ages. When making traditional bread, I let my heavy-duty stand mixer do the work. More often I make bread using the ABin5 technique, which of course uses a wet dough that doesn’t require kneading (and as you’ve discovered, the bread has a nicer crumb if you let the dough age in the fridge for a day or two before baking). What can I say — I have next to no upper-body strength and I get my meditation through running!

  • Susan

    The no-knead recipe was the first bread I had successfully baked and the one that really got me interested in experimenting with bread baking. Once I got into other breads using pre-ferments, I realized that this no knead bread is similar (like almost identical) to pre-ferments in many recipes. This is a good place to start a novice, I think, because they can see how basic and uncomplicated bread making can be yet still turn out a fabulous loaf.

  • Cindy (FarmgirlCyn)

    I’ve been baking no-knead bread for several years and have always been happy with the results. However, the past few months I have had a sourdough starter going in my kitchen and so I began experimenting with replacing the dry yeast in the no-knead recipe with about 1/2 cup of sourdough starter. I adjust the remaining liquid accordingly, to get what I know to be the wet dough required for the recipe. The sourdough adds a whole new dimension to the bread, and I am not sure if I will ever go back to just the dry yeast. I also purchased Lahey’s book….not a lot of recipes, for sure, but for me it is just a springboard to more dourdough creations. The pizza crust in his book (with sourdough) was the best to ever come out of my kitchen…and I have been married/cooking for 4 0 years!)
    I’ve also messed with replacing the yeast in ABin5 with sourdough, and am pleased with those results as well.

  • Paul C

    I have a similar aversion to making no knead bread … I think for the same reasons. I’ve tried a few times following the various no knead recipes, and while it’s turned out well, it’s never been knock my socks off amazing.

    That being said, I barely knead my bread at all. I mix my flour and water briefly let it sit for 30 mins, then mix in the starter and salt and then simple fold it a few times once an hour for about 4 hours. then I shape it and proof it, and bake it. or if I want a tighter crumb I deflate it and shape it and proof it again.

    I bake it in a clay pot with a lid, and it turns out perfect every time.

  • Beth

    I’ve been making 24-hour rise bread the last few weeks and taking loaves into work. I don’t call it no-knead, because every 6 or 8 hours, I pull the bowl out of the cold oven (my kitchen is a consistent 60F, so yeast goes dormant if the dough is on the counter), punch it down and work in a bit more flour. The effort I took in today had molasses to feed the yeast and flax seed to add additional texture. It was about the same color as good amber honey, and it tasted incredible.

    I’ve converted a number of determined non-bakers to making their own bread this way. They discover that good homemade bread doesn’t require fussing over dough, it just takes a little time.

  • cara_mia

    The best part of the no-knead bread – more people are baking bread now – those who didn’t bake bread much before and those who never baked bread before. If Sandra Lee had that influence on cooking in America, she’d be a saint, even if it meant everyone was making lasagna with cottage cheese and tomato soup.

    For years before Bittman’s column, I rarely baked bread. (Unless you count the from-scratch cinnamon buns. They’re a very wet dough anyhow, so it’s not the same.) Before college, I would make bread every so often in my parents’ circa 1972 KitchenAid mixer. A few years after college, I bought a Professional6 KitchenAid mixer – the 6 quart – and it does a pitiful job at kneading. They’ve since redesigned the mixer with a spiral hook. I bought the spiral hook even though they tell you not to (like I’m going to void the – also pitiful – 1 year warranty that ran out 8 years ago) and that doesn’t do much better. They just don’t build them like they used to.

    One of the great things about the no-knead process is that inherent in its design is that you don’t have to block off several hours of the day to make it. Meaning that you can mix it up one weeknight and bake it the next night or later in the week. You don’t have to start the minute you get home and stay up late in order to bake it. And the ABin5 takes that one step further if you mix up the full batch to bake throughout the week.

    Now, I’ve got both of ABin5’s books as well as Lahey’s book, and I can’t tell you the last time I bought a loaf of bread at the store!

  • Ellendra

    Every bread I make is no-knead, even if the recipe calls for kneading. I have shoulder problems that turn kneading or rolling dough into a rather painful experience. So I improvise.

  • David

    The thing that appealed to me is the pacing of the thing.
    There’s no urgency in the rising process – an hour here or there is not critical when we’re talking about 14 to 20 hours.

  • Igusti Ayu Dewi

    Glad to you finally open your heart to “no knead bread”. I was pretty sad when I submitted my no knead bread picture to your FB, and you put “like” on everyone but not mine. I couldn’t figure out why, until I learnt that you’re not actually fond of this no knead bread.

    I personally love using wildyeast, use my mixer to knead it, and occasionally knead by hand, but I must admit that once in a while , making no knead bread is pretty rewarding as well.


  • Celeste

    As previous posters have stated, Lahey’s technique is just one pathway to a great loaf. Personally, I like to give it a few stretch-n-folds to “help” it along, and I find the flavor improved with the addition of white whole wheat flour & a handful of flax. The three best recipes in Lahey’s book: the stirato & stecce loaves, and the pizza bianca. His technique for Roman pizza bianca is closer to the “real thing” than any other I’ve tried.

  • Mary Beth

    I bake bread once or twice a week. As much as I have loved crusty bread baked on a stone at high temps, I hated the burnt cornmeal odor after removing the bread, as well as the fussing with ice cubes or spritzing water, etc. I only made NKB a few times, but the best thing I took from the technique has been using a pre-heated, covered pot. I have been astounded at how consistent this method has been. I no longer have to guess when breads are done (although I only started to use temperature as a way to test for doneness in the last year and that has boosted my confidence.) I also now avoid getting overly thick, tooth-breaking crusts that sometimes happened with the baking stone method.)

    Using the covered pot, most loaves weighing up to 2 # are done in 30 minutes, baked at 450 F. (as shown by internal temp. of 204 F or higher). Initially I didn’t slash my breads before putting them in the pan, (last rise being in linen-lined cheap-o baskets), but lately have taken a moment to slash them once I have slipped or gently dropped them into the preheated pots. On occasion, I will also give the loaf another spritz of water before going into the oven. The results continue to be SO consistent and produce amazing crusts. Sometimes I bake a bread at 450 F (such as one with a lot to durum semolina in it) and sometimes a bread that will be softer, such as one enriched with milk, sugar, and butter will bake at 425 F or even 400 F.
    I was also determined to not let the idea that one could only have success with this method by using an expensive enameled cast iron pot. To my delight, experiments using a $10 little enameled (graniteware) roaster have turned out perfectly lovely loaves. The thinner material means it must be set on the middle rack of the oven, but I can bake two loaves at t time this way.
    I also bake nice long loaves in two fish poachers I found on ebay- a caphalon that I found for 40 bucks, and a Todd English poacher for about the same. I find the caphalon works better because it fits in my oven better and I think it can handle the 475 F that I use for some of these loaves. However, I have been able to fit the two fish poachers and two small cast iron dutch ovens (lower racks) so I can bake four loaves at the same time.
    Because I have baked my breads like this for so long, baking bread in a loaf pan or baking rolls started to feel less of a sure thing, so I have to bake some of these types every so often so I don’t lose that knack.

    BTW- a covered pyrex bowl works, as well as a very cheap, thin enamel covered pot I picked up at the grocery store for four bucks. I have used the covered clay bakers, but not often enough to use with confidence. I also use covered pots to bake breads on my gas grill. I find myself looking at covered pots of all kinds when I am at thrift stores, flea markets, and closeout stores such as Marcs and Big Lots. That’s also where I find my baskets and linen towels. I look for pyrex lids (thrift stores’ kitchen wares) that can do double duty for many of the round dutch ovens. I love to check on the color and oven spring of the bread through those glass tops as they are baking.

    I use the weight of the dough to determine what size pots to use. The little enamel roasters take loaves up to about 1# 7oz; the 1 quart dutch ovens take 1# 3oz max, it seems, and and of course the 5 quart dutch ovens and the fish poachers take the 2# and on up loaves.

    • Paul

      Hey Mary Beth … I have a couple of small cast iron Dutch ovens that are from (1) a friend and (2) a collectible store. Very inexpensive and very good for bread.

      • Mary Beth

        Ha ha- I omitted to say that I too have an elderly 5-quart Le Creuset dutch oven, and a couple of equally old 1 1/2 qt ones that I bake bread in. One of those is even cracked and stained, but still perfect for baking little loaves. I also have a nice old Griswold dutch oven. It just seemed that when the NKB craze hit, you HAD to have the freakin’ expensive Le Creuset to bake it in….
        I got a *set* of Le Creuset at an outlet clearinghouse in the early 80’s, -10 different pots and pans with their lids- for $99. Since a few of them cracked from being dropped over the years, I couldn’t bear to pay to replace them at today’s prices.
        That’s one good friend you have, to give you a dutch oven!

    • Gayle

      I use a cast iron dutch oven I found in the woods next to my farm. The bottom is badly cracked, so I used it as decoration in a flower bed for a couple years. Then I read about baking bread in cast iron so I washed and oiled the pan, prayed that the high heat wouldn’t expand the crack so much the bottom fell out and plopped my ABi5 dough in. The result was so wonderful I haven’t looked back. The old dutch oven (with a Griswold lid borrowed from another cast iron skillet) now has a good season on it and it gives me such pleasure to see it in use in my kitchen, taking its place with my other cast iron.

  • alan

    Contrary to the experiences of some others, for me no-knead was a kind of anti-gateway to the larger world of bread baking. Years ago I tried the Cook’s Illustrated no-knead recipe and was far more satisfied with my supermarket loaf from Trader Joe’s. I decided that bread baking just wasn’t for me and instead focused my kitchen efforts on skills that seemed more attainable at the time. It was years before my wife bought me a very nice bread cookbook and got me to try again. I now bake nearly all of our bread, along with cookies, pretzels, English muffins, bagels, pasta — anything that starts with dough. I have yet to go back to no-knead, and I would see no reason to but for one thing: The ability to toss a bit of dough in the fridge and have fresh bread any day of the week. For that, and that alone, I may give it another try.

  • kaela

    I’m sorry: I won’t be fooled again. I’ve tried Lahey’s/Bittman’s no knead bread recipe – THREE times.Disastrous every time. I bought Artisan Bread, thinking that a book of recipes might help me learn the method. Didn’t help.

    I bake with whole grains. I already use a 24-hour pre-ferment for nearly all my loaves. Maybe it’s just that I like to knead bread: maybe the thought of “being able” to give up on kneading makes me unconsciously sabotage all of my no-knead attempts. Who knows? But I won’t be sucked in again: you’ll pry my bread dough from my cold, extremely strong, hands. 🙂

  • Kimber

    To knead or not to kead, that is the question. What a good mix and rise in much kneaded and un-kneaded comments, elevating….

  • Kimber

    To knead or not to knead, that is the question. What a good mix and rise in much kneaded and un-kneaded comments, elevating….

  • John

    I had a little chuckle at the “warm my hands on the Kitchen Aid”. When I get up before work and prepare a loaf to rise all day in the cold house, it is usually before the heat as kicked on and it is cold, cold, cold. I often warm my hands on the motor until the coffee is ready!

  • Paul C

    Bruce Ezzell
    Isn’t that would God made Bosch & KA mixers for anyway, when we’re tired of mixing by hand? You’re funny Kaela.

    No, God frowns upon those who knead bread in their KA mixer, as do their customer support when your KA dies after 6 months and they tell you that you’re not allowed to knead bread that consists of more than 2 cups of flour ( in your 6 quart pro mixer ) or for more than 5 minutes at a go.

  • mel in austin

    glad to see you gave it a second chance…i have a busy life, and like simple things, like this bread. i don’t stress about the baker’s windowpane, and if i overworked the gluten, etc.

  • Jay Acker

    Thanks for posting a no knead recipe with weight measure rather than volume! Been looking for one everywhere.

  • Jerry Gantner

    My uncle told me about this method and I tried it with good results. Instead of a cast iron duch oven I used a stoneware baking dish with a top that was easier to get the bread in, that is until the base cracked when I was cooking something else. The crust cooking it that way was something that I have not been able to produce with a regular oven, even with my pizza stone and the top to the baking dish.

  • laura

    I had little success with bread in terms of consistency until I tried the no knead recipes. I like the high hydration doughs even for pizza because they are soft and unresisting when shaped even if they are a little uncontrollable. My pizzas are always interestingly shaped and the crust tastes fantastic. I get a lot more use out of my dutch oven- baking in it for the loaf and on the bottom of it for the pizza. I like the direction bread baking has taken. It even got me to make a sourdough starter of my own.

  • Ed

    The Jan/Feb ’08 Cooks’ Illustrated has a version of No-Knead bread and the recipe includes beer and white vinegar which boost the flavor. This recipe also has you put the bread on parchment paper which make it easy to handle and eliminates the potential of the dough sticking. The one step I ignore in the recipe is spraying the paper and bread with vegetable oil (aka Pam). I encourage you to try it.

  • philip Geneman

    This is great, You know I think the last time i made no knead bread was in school! I do not remember much but I do remember making all kinds of bread! Thank for this post

  • Abigail Blake

    I knew you’d come around in the end. It’s the only reason I make bread several times a week. Try it with sourdough starter, it’s fantastic. And yes, easier.

  • Mari

    I’ve made both the ABi5 bread and traditional bread, and, as a working mom, I have a high appreciation for the no-knead kind. I make “regular” breads on the weekend, but during the weekday when I don’t have that much time to wait (in a cold Minnesota kitchen nonetheless), it’s nice to be able to grab a hunk of already-made dough, plop it onto something to rest, and work on the rest of my dinner before having to run off to daycare to pick up The Kid.

    The no-knead bread from my kitchen will never replace a nice crackling traditional loaf from a good bakery for me, but it sure does make crusty warm bread more accessible. And it’s saved me time and money, too–no more making a special trip to the store for a loaf of French or a package of pitas when I’ve got dough waiting at home!

  • Charlotte

    I’ve been making this in the cooler months about once a week for the last couple of years. Modifications include: 1 cup each whole wheat, bread, and all-purpose flour (King Arthur), 1.5 cups sourdough starter, and about a cup of water (plus the pinch of yeast and tbsp of salt). Sometimes I add some rye flour for taste too. When it comes out of the bowl after the overnight-to-24 hour rise in my cold house, I tend to knead it some. Not the full 10 minutes you would with regular bread, but a little knead to bring it together, then that trick I learned from watching Nancy Silverton on tv somewhere of shaping it into a round and stretching the outside of the dough to make a nice tight skin. Then back in the colander-lined-with-a-floured-teatowl for another rise before baking. My house is cool so it all takes a while, but I work at home so it’s not an issue. It’s a great loaf of bread, and I miss it all summer when it’s just too hot to bake.

  • Witloof

    I tried the no knead bread a few times and was so unimpressed. No flavor! I felt like the little boy in the emperor has no clothes. Everyone was raving about it and I just didn’t get it.

  • Harley Blank

    My friend who is from Belgium and grew up under the tutelage of her father, a Classic French Chef, gave me a Cloche for making bread. It is pottery and has been seasoned by her as one would do an iron skillet. It seems to accomplish the same effect as the Dutch oven. It has survived many years of excellent bread making.

  • Blake @ salt, teak & fog

    I did quite a bit of baking with the ABi5 book, but the flavor and texture just wasn’t there. I’m a full-on convert to keeping a starter and making delicious naturally-leavened (and not very sour at all), beautiful loaves. The techniques I use are from the Tartine Bread book, and it’s easy, intuitive and so very, very delicious. I bake about 3 loaves per week.

  • Rhonda

    Thank you, Ruhls.

    There are times when you can knead and there are times when you can’t.

    Enjoy all of them.

  • Julia

    Try the recipe for Crusty white peasant style pot bread on page 31 from the book. “Kneadlessy Simple ” by Nancy Baggett. ONE of my many favorite no knead breads. The other would be the Red Wine and Cheese Bread from ” Healthy Breads in 5 min a Day”

  • Amy K

    Ruhlman, I have seen you with Tony B alot!!!! After making bread the Buddhist Tassajara way, and then doing Artisan Bread, I realized I could lovingly do it but in less time…..

  • Bonnie Deahl

    I had not baked bread with any regularity until about 8 months ago with both ABin5 and HBin5 books by Jeff & Zoe. The breads all come out better with aged dough as other readers have commented. It is easy to have dough in the fridge and just bake it when you want some. I am certainly a fan of this process and encourage others to give it a try.
    There’s nothing like homebaked bread…everyday!
    Now, when are you offering the banneton for sale in your store?!

  • chris k

    Michael, I’m glad your opinion of no-knead bread has changed. Considering how much effort you put into urging people to cook at home, I was surprised you didn’t initially recognize its potential.

    Testimonial: I was intimidated by baking bread at home until I discovered Lahey’s no-knead recipe. It gave me the confidence and inspiration to learn other methods of bread baking. At the very least, if you think of it as a “gateway recipe” for teaching people how to make their own bread, how can that be a bad thing?

    It’s a great backup recipe for when my KitchenAid mixer breaks down. You can wax poetic about the joys of kneading bread by hand all you want. I understand that. But sometimes I just want bread, not a transcendental experience. Or forearms like Popeye.

    No-knead bread is also great for tailgate parties or car camping. Dutch oven? Done!

  • luis

    Too much work… and worse too much time. That’s the dealbreaker for me. If I leave it overnight to bake the next day is not so bad but bread making at home takes time and effort on top of everything else you may be preparing for the day. Still I am looking forward to reading your new book on breadmaking. At least you will have put all these wonderful techniques together in one place for me to enjoy whenever I can find the time to bake.

  • Linda Langness

    I’ve been making this bread for several years. I think that the Cook’s Illustrated suggestions of beer and vinegar give the bread more flavor. Once, while daydreaming, I used 3 times the amount of beer so I left out the vinegar and it still tasted great. I’ve also used white wine and sometimes I use just beer or just vinegar. I tried red wine as well and although it tasted fine, the pink color of the bread was not so appetizing. My favorite part is that I can throw the dough on parchment paper to rise and to bake. Easy-peasy! But I agree with Bob and others that it’s just one way to make bread and I, like you, prefer to knead my bread because it’s one of the only times a slow down.

  • Decor Girl

    You had me at no-knead bread technique from NYT. I clipped that out of the paper, though hadn’t tried it yet. This cold Cleveland weather has me in my winter baking mode and I honestly was going to try the recipe this weekend. Thanks for your insight, now I’m going to make your version.

  • Tedd

    I dunno, it seems like you have taken a method that was designed for ease and artisan qualities and made it more difficult to try and achieve a better crust. The example pic looks to be dense and little crumb. I really like the simple motives of the Artisan Bread in 5 book, and often play around with the recipe, after all, that’s true artisan to me, use what you have.

  • jon

    430 g of water is more like 1-3/4 cup + 2 tbsp not 1-1/2 + 2 tbsp?

    is the metric amount or the US amount incorrect?


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