no knead bread

$0.54 recipe/$0.27 loaf

***Scroll to the bottom of the page to see what I’ve found to work best after multiple experimental batches since the original post.***

I’ve had a science experiment going on in my kitchen over the past few days and I’m finally ready to reveal the results. I’ve been making a batch of No Knead Bread. You’ll see why it was such a science experiment in a bit…

If you do any sort of perusing the web for recipes then you’ve surely seen 5 minute a day no knead bread recipes. Although I’m sure this method has been around for centuries, it has recently been popularized by the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I’ve been skeptical of the method and have wanted to try it for some time. After all, how good could the texture be with no kneading? Well, it’s INCREDIBLE! No joke. The texture is right, the crust is superb and because I let my dough sit in the fridge for two days, it had a great sour dough flavor.

No Knead Bread

No Knead Bread

Before beginning my experiment, I read a few recipes/reports from other bloggers and I watched the how-to youtube video made by the authors of the book. For the best results, the recipe suggests baking on a pizza stone. Although I’ve wanted one for some time, I haven’t wanted to plop down $30 for one.

That’s when I remembered seeing Alton Brown using a $1 unglazed quarry tile that he purchased at a hardware store for the same purpose. So, I hustled down to the Home Depot by my house to get one. Unfortunately, the only unglazed stone tiles they had were HUGE travertine that wouldn’t fit in my oven and slate. I had read reviews about using slate for baking stones and some warned against using it because it can break apart due to it’s layered composition. But, I bought one anyway… bad idea.

Don’t use slate for your baking stone! Mine broke the very first time. It didn’t just break, it burst quite forcefully. Luckily, it didn’t explode into a bunch of pieces and shatter my glass oven door. Oh, and some flaked off onto the bottom of my crust. Let this be a warning.

Using a baking stone is supposed to give a great crust on the bottom but since my make-shift stone failed and I don’t have money for a real one, I will try a regular baking sheet next time. I will post an update when I do this (probably this weekend).

The other piece of info that is crucial to making this bread so fantastic is steam. Placing a baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven as it preheats then pouring a cup or so of water in when you put the bread in will fill the oven with a nice bit of steam. The steam acts on the surface of the bread making the most wonderful crust. And if you ask me, bread is ALL about the crust. Oh, another warning here: don’t use glass for your water pan. Throwing cool water into a 400 degree glass pan can make it shatter.

Anyway, those few points aside, the bread was super easy to make and I will without a doubt have a batch of dough in my refrigerator at all times from now on. I don’t have roomies so I halved the recipe and made a small loaf. Double the quantities below if you want enough to make two full sized loaves.

no knead bread
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Total Cost: $0.54
Cost Per Serving: $0.27
Serves: 2 small loaves
Ingredients
  • 3¼ cups all-purpose flour $0.23
  • ¾ Tbsp yeast $0.21
  • ¾ Tbsp kosher salt (or 1 tsp table salt) $0.05
  • ¼ cup corn meal $0.05
  • 1½ cups water $0.00
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, bucket or pot combine the flour, salt, yeast and water. Stir with a spoon until all of the dry flour has been stirred in. Let this mixture sit, loosely covered, on the counter top for 2 hours.
  2. You can either make bread with some of the dough after the two hours or keep it in the refrigerator to make bread with later. The dough can remain in the refrigerator for up to two weeks so label and date the container.
  3. To make the bread, pull off a portion of the dough. The dough is sticky so dust it liberally with flour before grabbing a chunk. Use a knife to cut it off from the rest of the dough. Flour your hands liberally and shape the dough into whatever shape you’d like (round, long, rolls, anything).
  4. Liberally cover a cutting board or pizza peel (wooden paddle) with cornmeal and place the shaped loaf on it. Let it rise for 45 minutes to one hour. When it’s finished rising, use a sharp knife to make slits in the top to allow the bread to expand as it bakes.
  5. minutes prior to the end of the rise time, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Let the stone (if using one) and the water pans heat up with the oven. When the oven is ready to go, slide the risen loaf onto the stone and pour about one cup of water into the water pan below. Cook for about 30 minutes or until the crust is a nice medium brown in color.
  6. Be sure to let the loaf cool before cutting into it otherwise you’ll have a gummy crumb.

 

Step By Step Photos

dry ingredientsFirst add the flour, salt and yeast to your container. The book/video suggests using a plastic bucket but I don’t have one (and didn’t feel like going to the store) so I used my large stock pot. Just use something with a lid that will fit in your refrigerator.

add waterAdd the water to the container…

stir it upStir it up just until all of the dry flour has been mixed in. No excessive stirring or kneading required!

after 2 hrsCover the container loosely (so gasses can still escape) and let it sit at room temperature for 2 hrs. This is what it looked like after 2 hrs. See how it expanded?

after 2 daysI let my dough sit for 2 days in the refrigerator to develop some flavor and this is what it looked like 2 days later. Kinda flattened out a bit.

pull off partWhen you’re ready to make bread, sprinkle a bunch of flower on the dough and grab a big chunk. Use a knife to cut off however much you want.

shape loafUsing well floured hands, shape the loaf however you’d like. I kinda wanted an elongated boule or short/fat french loaf. Also, if you don’t have a pizza peel, place the loaf on something smooth and flat that it will slide right off of onto the hot stone. A baking sheet without a rim will also work. Make sure to lay down a good amount of cornmeal under the dough so it will slide.

left over doughPut the lid back on (loosely) the remaining dough and refrigerate it up to two weeks!

slate stoneThis is the piece of slate tile that I bought and won’t be using again. I DO NOT RECOMMEND USING SLATE.

oven set upThis is how I had my oven set up. Baking stone on top rack (on medium level) and water pans below. Again, DO NOT use glass for your water pans. Let the stone and water pans heat up with the oven.

risen doughAfter the dough rises, use a sharp knife to cut some slits in the top. I didn’t make my slits deep enough because the loaf still exploded out the side (you’ll see). The loaf will get about twice this size in the oven so it needs the slits to expand correctly.

oven shotWhen the oven is nice and hot (400 degrees), slide the risen loaf onto the stone and pour some water in the water pan(s). Bake the loaf for 30 minutes or until it is nicely browned on the outside.

exploding loafThis is what happens when your slits are just not good enough. In the bread’s desperate attempt to expand, it will blow out the side somewhere. Kinda looks like a mouth puking something up.

slate on bottomAnd THIS is what will happen with slate… some flaked off and got stuck in the crust on the bottom. Good thing I noticed. DO NOT USE SLATE

pretty loafDespite the mistakes, there was still a pretty side to the loaf! Plus, who cares what it looks like when it tastes this good and was this easy and cheap!!!

No Knead Bread

You’ve GOT to try this bread!

They also have a book with recipes for whole wheat, gluten free and other healthier versions, called Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

I also found this great youtube video about making bread with a similar method but using a baking sheet instead of a stone… plus this guy is kinda funny.

Stay tuned for my update with a loaf baked on a baking sheet instead of a stone…

 

UPDATE

After much experimentation, I found the best no-knead loaf is made with the following techniques:

- Making the loaf directly after the 2 hr resting period rather than refrigerating the dough first produces a lighter, fluffier loaf with a better “crumb.”

- Baking the loaf in a 450 degree oven, rather than 400 makes a better crust.

- I found that skipping the steam bath produces a better loaf. Instead, I brush the crust liberally with water prior to putting it in the oven.

- Because my stone cracked during this first trial, I started baking it on a baking sheet with parchment paper and cornmeal. The bottom crust is not nearly as nice but the bread is still fantastic!

- The crust will never stay as nice as it is right after you take it out of the oven but to keep it as crispy as possible, cover the cut side of the loaf with plastic wrap and cover the rest of the loaf either with a clean towel or a paper bag (to allow air flow and prevent trapping moisture).

Here is the latest and greatest no-knead loaf so far:

no-knead brea

72 Comments

  1. I second the opinion of a couple of readers, dutch ovens work fantastically for this type of bread. Also, I find that if I let mine proof for 12-18 hours, it’s extra fluffy and delicious on the inside.

    Love your site, thanks!

  2. Lindsey says:

    I’m making this right now. I’ve had it baking longer than the 30 min time, but it just won’t brown up nicely. But it smells amazing! What did I do wrong that it’s not browning as it bakes?

    • I’ve noticed that this recipe in particular takes longer to brown. I think it’s because the dough is so high moisture and it’s a little more dense that most bread doughs, so it takes the crust longer to dry out and brown.

  3. Try using a cast iron dutch oven instead of a baking sheet, works brilliantly

  4. Thank you for the tips, particularly the one about brushing on the water! Yummy, yum, yum, YUM!

  5. Excellent suggestions, Carnifex! I can’t wait to try honey (I’m a honey fanatic)! :)

  6. Carnifex says:

    Your no-knead recipe inspired me to start baking bread! Before trying your above recipe I always thought bread would be “too difficult.” Six months later a fresh, homemade roll is my standard breakfast! I still use this recipe as the base, albeit with my own modifications. I’m not an expert baker, but I keep trying to improve–and it’s a delicious learning process! :)

    Along with saying “thank you,” I want to suggest a change. Add honey to the dough! This produces a thicker and chewier crust, which I think improves on the recipe as written.

    I mix approx. 1 to 2 Tbsp honey into the amount of water I’m using in the recipe. The water should be warm but not hot; this makes the honey dissolve easily and also helps the yeast “wake up” quickly. (Be careful, boiling hot water will kill yeast. You should be able to put your finger in the water without discomfort.)

    I prefer about 1 Tbsp honey because I don’t want to add too much sweetness. But the precise amount is not important. Experiment and see what you like best!

  7. Anon – You could bake it on a baking sheet with some parchment and skip the cornmeal.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Would it be possible to use flour in place of cornmeal? I like the taste, but sometimes it’s not on hand and an alternative would be very good to have!

  9. I just made this bread with 1.5 cups whole wheat and 1.75 cups unbleached all purpose- so good! I just used a cookie sheet and the cornmeal gave the bottom a delicious chewy texture. I’ll definitely make this bread again. Thanks!

  10. I’m trying this for dinner tonight, rolls are currently rising. I’m planning to use my stoneware cookie sheet for the bake. After reading through your blog about the slate I thought I might impart a little knowledge about tile. Quarry tile is not tile that is mined in a quarry nor are baking stones generally made of stone. Both of these are sort of misnomers. Quarry is a type of non porus kiln fired tile used in commercial kit hen applications and baking “stones” are actually ceramic “stoneware.” Any peice of tile made of actual stone is likely to fracture when subjected to the heat of an oven, but ceramic bakeware is kiln fired at much higher temperatures than what they see in your oven, thus allowing them to withstand the heat of cooking food, provided, of course, that you heat the stone gradually with the preheating oven.

    My apologies if I missed this in another comment.

  11. We had the EXACT same experience with the slate stone. Didn’t want to spend the money, saw the same Alton Brown episode you mentioned… looked for the tiles he mentioned, couldn’t find them, and came home with the same thing. KABLOOOOOOEY!!! Thankfully we heard it snap, crackle and popping as the oven preheated, and my husband quickly grabbed a pair of tongs, and was able to grab it and fling it out he back door (located RIGHT next to the oven) before it completely exploded. It actually continued to pop and crackle and explode in the backyard while it cooled down…

  12. Darcy – I’ve used the no-knead technique for loaf breads and it seems to work out well. If your dough was a little on the wet side, try working in just a little bit of flour when you’re kneading it. That might give it more strength.

  13. Darcy says:

    I made this bread, and it was absolutely delicious! I must have gone wrong somewhere along the way though, because it did not rise nearly as much as I was hoping, and the bread is fairly flat. How do you think this recipe would hold up in a pan with more structure, like a loaf tin?

  14. No, self rising flour will not work in this recipe. Self rising flour does not work the same way as yeast and is more for items like biscuits.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Can I use self-rising flour?

  16. I use the New York Times recipe for No Knead Bread (18 hours with no refrigeration) and have adapted it by doubling the recipe and using mixtures of flour (white and rye, white and wheat) and adding “crunchies” like seeds for extra texture. I do not use a baking stone, instead, I use two large Corningware round casserole dishes that I’ve sprayed with Pam baking spray (with flour). Cover with the Corningware tops to bake and remove covers about 15 minutes before the end. Two perfect round loaves every time.

  17. I made this before going to bed last night (about 10:30) and left it on the counter until this morning. I formed it into a freeform loaf and put it on a pizza pan I have (not stone but metal with holes in it) let it rest for about 30 minutes, baked for 30 minutes at 400. It turned out great!! The sourdough taste was great! My husband wants me to make more!! Thank you for sharing!!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Made this last night and I have to say it is the best bread I’ve ever made in my life! LOVE IT! I can’t believe how easy it is to make, how simple the ingredients are, and how incredibly tasty it is. I may have bread with dinner most nights of the week now. Thank you for sharing!

  19. Anonymous says:

    Hi Beth, I am so excited about this recipe. I made it for the first time yesterday and it did take ages to rise, but I guess it was quite cool in my kitchen. When I was a young child, mom used to make ‘stottie cakes’, a flatcake which was soft and chewy in the middle with a crispy crust. Sometimes she made 5-6inch diameter ones or other times she would make one large one. She never had a recipe, her mom taught her how to do it. Dad got a job at a bakery so she stopped making it, and I never did learn how. None of the bakeries sold anything that tasted the same. When I came to Canada from UK I started making my own bread on occasions. I have tried to duplicate her recipe but have never been able to, until yesterday. I made one long loaf but today I have made stottie cakes as well as buns and they are great. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Anon – the yeast can also feed on the carbohydrates in the flour, although it takes longer than if you were to add sugar. That is why it requires a two hour rise time. Also, the dough is quite wet so it rises a lot due to steam in the super hot oven. No knead bread is not as light and fluffy as traditional breads, but it’s super tasty for the amount of work that you put in! The more you make it, the better you’ll get at it (just look at the bottom photo compared to the original one!)

  21. Anonymous says:

    I’m concerned that there is no sugar in this recipe. I thought the yeast needed sugar to make it grow. I made the dough as the recipe says almost 2 hours ago, and nothing is happening. I’ll leave it longer and see if it progresses. Love your web-site, Pat.

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