No Knead Bread: so easy a 4-yr old can make it!

No Knead Bread Recipe

It’s been almost a year since NY Times unveiled the secret to the revolutionary No-Knead Bread. And while fads come and go, this certainly is a recipe that has transcended the fickleness of foodies. It’s time to revisit the bread…. as many of us have been brainwashed by this summer’s ice cream! We’ve made close to 60 loaves since last November and I’ve got to tell you, it is still one of our family’s favorite things to eat.

I firmly believe that every person should bake a loaf of bread at least once in their lifetime. Granted, it’s easy to just drive to your local bakery to pick up a loaf, but have you ever experienced the intense joy of smelling freshly baked bread coming from your very own oven?! Foodgasmic eyes-roll-to-back-of-head, soul softly moaning as you tug a piece of warm, pillowy mound gently with your teeth. In case you’ve not heard of No Knead Bread….let me tell you about it. Baking bread does sound intimidating…all that kneading and loaf-shaping business is best left to pros. But what if I told you that you don’t even have to knead or shape, that it is so easy my little son makes it.

No Knead Bread recipe so insanely brilliant – no sticky fingers, no doughy mess, no intricate measuring, no complicated kneading. Totally hands-off. The crust is thin, crisp and snaps as you cut into the loaf. The interior of the bread holey, chewy, airy and light. If bread could sing, this would be an angelic choir. In Dolby digital surround sound. Now, with that, how could you not try No Knead Bread? It only takes 3 minutes to mix and a wooden spoon. You can’t even boil spaghetti in 3 minutes!

So, without further blabbering, I’ve pimped out my son to demonstrate that baking No Knead Bread is so simple a 4-year old can do it.

No Knead Bread Recipe by a 4 year old chef

Of course I had to bribe him with 2 temporary tattoos. Cheap labor. 10 cents apiece. There is nothing that says, “I’m a kick-ass no knead bread baker” more than a tattoo of a killer whale. Move over Bourdain, here comes someone cuter…

So, let’s start. 3 cups of bread flour in a big bowl.

secret: I sometimes use 1/2c whole wheat flour + 2 1/2c bread flour

No Knead Bread Recipe by Chef Andrew

1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast:

Add yeast for the No Knead Bread

1 teaspoon of table salt

(secret: I use 3/4 tablespoon of kosher salt. Why the difference?)

Add Salt for the No Knead Bread Recipe

Add 1-1/2 cups of lukewarm water. Sorry no pic – he dumped water before I could pick up camera. But you know what “dumping water” looks like! Stir. Use those muscles, boy. Stir like a badass-baker with whale tattoos would stir!

No Knead Bread Recipe by Chef Andrew

See? This is what it is supposed to look like…a shaggy, goopy mess.

Bread dough mixture No Knead Bread Recipe

Wrap up the no knead bread dough

Wrap the Bread dough, No Knead Bread Recipe

Give it a kiss good night and let the no knead bread dough sleep for 12-20 hours on counter or in a nice, warm, cozy place.

Resting bread dough,  No Knead Bread Recipe

secret: I’ve let it sit for as little as 8 hours and it still tastes great! I did knead with wet hands just a little tiny bit to make up for the time OR you can add a touch more yeast.

After sleeping, the no knead bread dough should look like this: (better than what I look like in the morning.)

After resting,  No Knead Bread Recipe

Dump out on floured surface:

Dump out on floured surface, No Knead Bread Recipe

Wet your hands. This will prevent the very sticky dough from sticking to your hands. If you find dough sticking to your hands, wet again. Why not flour your hands? You could, but you want to keep the flour: water ratio pretty even. Since we are adding flour to the surface, I balance it out by wetting my hands. It is the high water content that makes this bread so deliciously light and the crust very crisp. With wet hands, grab the dough and fold over all ends towards the middle. Turn dough blob over so that you get a nice, smooth, tight surface. Try to tuck the dough ends under to get that taut surface.

Gently move dough onto a piece of parchment paper (I used a floured towel, but it can stick to the towel easily, so I recommend parchment.) Cover. Let nap for 2 hours. It should puff up nicely and double in size.

secret: When I run out of time, I sometimes let it sit only for 1 hour! If you let it nap in a tall, narrow bowl (pictured below), the dough rises nice and tall, about 6″ high. If you leave it out on the counter – that is fine too, the dough will rise up and also out….making a flatter No Knead Bread loaf, about 3″-4″ high.They will both taste the same, just looks a little different.

Nap before bake, No Knead Bread Recipe

A half hour before the nap ends, we will need to begin preheating your baking vessel. Slip a covered pot into the oven. Crank up the heat to 450F. Let it pre-heat for 30 minutes or longer.

The perfect pot for No Knead Bread

Let’s talk about the pot. So, you know you’re going to put the pot into a very very hot oven. Make sure that the pot can withstand 450F. Generally, if the pot is cheap, flimsy, has plastic handles and a remnant from your poor college days, it’s probably not going to be safe to use in that hot of an oven. Use a 5-qt or larger cast iron, ceramic, Pyrex, stainless steel or enamel pot.

Just check your pot collection – look for large, heavy, no plastic.

Round, oblong – doesn’t matter. Should be at least 4″ tall. I use my Le Creuset emameled cast-iron. Yes, my cover has a thick plastic knob – but I did call Le Creuset’s customer service and they said while their literature says safe to 400F, it is still fine at 450F. Now, I don’t know whether the gal who talked with me really had the authority to tell me such a thing….but after over 30 loaves, my pot is still unblemished. After pre-heating, remove the hot pot from oven.

Time to bake No Knead Bread

 

If you’re using parchment, just lift the entire parchment with dough and place into the pot with the parchment paper on bottom.

If you’re using a floured towel, place a piece of parchment paper at the bottom of your pot. This prevents the dough from sticking to the pot. Lift the towel, turn it over and just plop this wobbly dough into the hot pot. Doesn’t matter how it lands – actually, the messier it lands, the more “rustic” it looks. Shake pot a bit to even out the dough.

 No Knead Bread on Perfect Pot

“It looks like a belly button! ~Andrew

Cover and put back into the oven. Bake covered for 30 minutes. Photo below is peeking through oven door after 30 minutes. Then uncover and bake further for 15-20 minutes. To check – you can either tap the bread (should sound low, hollow, like a drum) or take its temperature (should be 210F in middle).

How to make no knead bread

Here is No Knead Bread just after baking. See? I told you that “messy” turns out “rustic!” Kids- don’t you DARE tell me that your toy room looks “rustic!!!” GO CLEAN YOUR ROOM!

Baked No Knead Bread

Remove and let cool. The No Knead Bread really does sing – the crust crackles as it cools. Listen to it!

secret: Because the bread has such high water content- the crust will not stay crisp forever. If you aren’t eating soon, you can re-crisp the crust by re-heating it in a 350F oven for 10 minutes.

Thats it! You will be rewarded with a thin, crunchy brown crust, large, open holes. The bread is slightly chewy, flavorful and perfect texture. Making your own bread is deeply soul satisfying, it makes me feel like I am so close to the earth. Eat with good butter – like Kerrygold or Lurpak – splurge on your butter for this loaf!

Cooldown before slicing No Knead Bread

Just a little story for you: The first time Andrew and I made this bread together, I let him mix all the ingredients together the night before. We watched it bake together. When it came out of the oven, Andrew wanted to cut into it immediately. But we had to wait until it cooled. Then it was time. As I placed the tip of my knife into the bread and moved down through the crust, the snap and crunch of the crust gave way to tender, spongy body. I knew even without tasting it, that it was the most perfect loaf of bread that I have ever made. Andrew and I slathered butter on our slices. We sat on the kitchen floor, my hands still with traces of flour, and had a wonderful moment of just enjoying bread that we made together. Just like his Po-Po, Andrew loves bread. Each time, he would come ask, More bread please with arms outstretched. I would place a warm buttered slice in his small hands – he cradled it so gently, carefully ran to the stairs, never taking his eyes off the prize. He sat on the third step and ate his bread, wiggling his toes between bites. Three times he did this. Yes, this is my son. Perhaps one day when he is older, he will read this recipe and story and remember how his Mommy taught him how to eat homemade bread – with lots of butter and with eyes closed, totally savoring every single bite.

Recommended Equipment for No Knead Bread


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No Knead Bread Recipe

Servings: One 1-pound loaf Prep Time: Cook Time:
No Knead Bread Recipe

No Knead Bread Recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman of NY Times who got it from Sullivan Street Bakery. When the recipe first came out, it was the blogging community who took the bread to new heights, especially Rose Levy Beranbaum, author of The Bread Bible. I followed Rose's experiments through the weeks and learned from her recipe adjustments and the why's of how this bread works.

Ingredients:

3 cups bread flour (I like Harvest King bread flour)
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon fine table salt (or 3/4 tablespoon of kosher salt)
1 1/2 cups warm waterCovered pot (five-quart or larger cast iron, Pyrex, ceramic, enamel...something that can go into a 450F oven.)

Directions:

1. Mix dough: The night before, combine all ingredients in a big bowl with a wooden spoon until the dough just comes together. It will be a shaggy, doughy mess. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit 12-20 hours on countertop.

2. Shape & preheat: The dough will now be wet, sticky and bubbly. With a wet spatula, dump the dough on a floured surface. Fold ends of dough over a few times with the spatula and nudge it into a ball shape. You can use your hands if you like, just keep your hands wet so that the dough does not stick. Place a large sheet of parchment paper on counter. Plop your dough onto parchment paper. Lift parchment paper up with dough and place into a large bowl. Cover bowl with a towel. Let it nap for 2 hours. When you've got about a half hour left, slip your covered pot into the oven and preheat to 450F.

3. Bake: Your dough should have doubled in size. Remove pot from oven. Grab the ends of the parchment paper and lift entire wobbly dough blob out of bowl into pot. Doesn't matter which way it lands. Shake to even dough out. Cover. Bake 30 minutes. Uncover, bake another 15-20 minutes or until the crust is beautifully golden and middle of loaf is 210F. Remove and let cool on wired rack. If not eating right away, you can re-crisp crust in 350F oven for 10 minutes. Best way to eat it? Smear a warm slice with some good butter (Kerrygold and Lurpac are both found in your grocery stores, usually on top shelf)

Comments 1,341

  1. Erin McLennan

    Hi! Thanks for posting such an intriguing recipe! We tried it yesterday with the plan of baking it this morning (20hours) but it was really wet and just slopped out like sticky paste onto our floured surface. We used quick rise yeast – do you think that is why it didn’t work? Thanks for any tips!

  2. Alicia Williams

    LOVE this bread and your blog of it! I’ve been making it for years (with my kids!) and it always turns out great … even when it is a bit Frisbee shaped. :) I’ll be saving your recipe, though, because it’s adorable. Your son is a lucky man! xoxox

  3. Suzanne

    We love this recipe!!
    Would you tell us how to add flavor such as rye, sesame, cinnamon?
    Thank you!

  4. Jessica

    Hi,
    Just to be clear, I keep the blob of dough on the parchment paper while baking, correct?
    Thanks –
    Jessica

  5. Judy

    Do I need to grease the enamel in the pot? If I leave on the baking paper won’t it have crinkly edges?

    1. SteamyKitchen

      No need to grease the pot! Once you bake with the parchment paper, it will soften up with all the moisture in the pot, so that the dough kind of spreads it out. No crinkles!

  6. Angela

    Hey, two questions.
    Can I use regular all purpose flour? I don’t have access to bread flour.
    And also, what about using a bread pan instead of a pot to bake in?

  7. Pingback: (Wo)Man Vs. Bread | Will Eat This

  8. Monique Johnson

    Thanks for the recipe!

    My husband just ate half the loaf, the kids love it, and I’m glad I at least took a picture of it because I don’t think it’s going to make the rest of the night!!!

  9. Ally

    Just wanted to thank you for the recipe and details instruction. I just baked a loaf that we made with Kamut wheat berries we ground in the Vitamix. It’s great!

  10. Maura

    I made the bread and it looks great but the wax paper got all stuck to it! I was wondering if there was anything I should do differently to keep that from happening next time?

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  11. Nicole

    Curious if you need to use bread flour? Or can you sub with all purpose flour? This bread looks sooo yummy. I would to start making bread once an week with my boys.

    Thank you!

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      Jaden

      Hi Sheila – I think there are better recipes for dinner rolls – I’m thinking something softer for rolls. This will produce a hard, crunchy crust.

  12. Kate

    Hi! I have a sourdough starter ready to be used. How much of it do I use in place of the yeast?

    thanks!

  13. Joycelyn

    I’ve made this recipe and others almost identical to it many times. I have made the recipe with all bread flour, with all unbleached AP flour, with 1/2 bread, 1/2 unbleached AP flour, and have found so far, the all bread flour is producing a nicer loaf. That being said, although my bread has been turning out great ( the all AP flour experiment not so much though) we are finding the finished crust on the boule almost impossible to cut.

    I should add, upon measuring the flour called for, I have used the spoon and sweep method ( what I was taught in home Ec years ago) I have used the scoop and sweep method (recommended & used by the authors of Artisan bread in 5 minutes a day) which for me was not at all good advice as scooped flour tends to get too compacted thus weighing more than is should. I have also weighed all ingredients needed including the flour ( advice from Jim Lahey the creator of the no knead bread recipe & found weighing the flour to be the best for a consistently good loaf. ( For me, I should add.)

    It is the texture of the finished crust on the NK recipe that is perplexing. The almost breaking my bread knife blade that I’m not understanding? I have always strived to have a nice crispy crust on my breads, but this one, the crust is too crispy, as in just too darn hard and I have no idea as to the answer why?

    I use my oblong or round heavy duty enamel cast iron pots with tight fitting lids to bake the NK bread, my oven temperature is spot on, it’s checked every day as I do a lot of baking. My yeast is fresh and is also tested regularly to avoid any yeast failure. The water needed is tested for the correct temperature ( via JLs book) or it is measured in a standard glass measuring that’s needed if one is going to bake by volume.

    I have been baking yeast breads & my trusty sourdough bread (no yeast) for a good many years so I am not a novice ( although not an expert either) to the world of bread baking. That being said, this no knead bread recipe although a very tasty loaf if one can get through the crust, has me stumped as too why the crust could quite easily break a persons tooth if they are not careful.

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      Jaden

      Hi Joycelyn (I love your name)

      For a less crust, try less steam (even omit it if you want). The high moisture content is what creates the super crusty crust.

  14. Madlaina

    This sounds great. I love making bread, but often don’t have time for the ‘traditional’ kind. We are going camping next weekend, so I am planning on doing a test run this week and then mix up a batch to ‘sleep’ while we’re travelling and bake it in my camp oven on the fire. Mmm, nothing better than freshly baked bread for breakfast while camping.

  15. George Chong

    Yum-oh-lah!!! I made it tonight and the bread came out perfect! It was nice and crusty!

  16. Jason Schwartz

    Hi Jaden,

    I tried your no knead recipe and nailed it. It’s so easy and the clean up is the best part. I upped the yeast and added 1/4 tsp of sugar to feed them. I also added a smidge of cinnamon for flavor. This rose in 8 hours, folded out and proofed and baked in parchment… Here’s a pin showing the slam dunk rustic loaf I got: goo.gl/23iBZH

    Keep em coming,
    Jason

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  17. Sandy In PA

    Can I use a 6-QT All Clad Stainless Steel Stock Pot (lined with parchment paper, of course) to bake this? I’ve made it in a Lodge Enameled 6 QT before, but don’t have it with me at the house I’m at now… Thanks!

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  18. Bunny Hider

    Holy Crap! This bread is GOOOD! I don’t think I’ve ever made bread before and it turned out perfect. Just follow the directions. I didn’t have a proper pot for the oven so I had to use a shallow dish pan and fashioned a tent like lid out of foil, still turned out great.

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  19. Chelsea

    Hi! I have never baked before and will try this this week. What do you suggest if I want a rustic, separated, or uneven look on top of the bread?

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      Jaden

      Hi Chelsea – the “sloppier” the bread, the more “rustic” it will look. For your first loaf, just try the recipe as-is. Experiment with it after your first loaf! You’ll have fun with baking bread, I promise.

  20. Katrina Brown

    upon reading your post, I felt challenged. Yeah you are right, when I like to eat a bread I just run to a bakery to buy it, but I’ve never tried in my life to bake a bread.
    But I just found it. I’m waiting to put the dough in the oven. My dough doesn’t look as firm as yours but we’ll see what comes out.

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  21. Samantha

    Thank you so much for this recipe!!!! My bread is just out of the oven and it looks BEAUTIFUL! I will never again buy a bread from a store!

  22. Sarah

    Hi Jaden,

    Thanks for sharing. I was surfing for more bread recipe and chance upon your blog. My husband found the almost-same recipe and I have been baking it for the past 6 months now and it’s great.
    However, I bake it after I let it rest for 12 hours. I simply floured it a little and using the spatula to get the dough together in the same bowl where I let it rest for 12 hours.
    I tweaked the recipe as well, here is my personal recipe :
    1.5 cup of bread flour
    1.5 cup of Top flour ( Prima brand – local brand I got here in singapore )
    2 tsp of salt
    1 tsp of instant yeast
    1.5 cup of water

    I mixed all the dry ingredients together, and added handful of Sunflower seeds, Golden Flaxseed, some oat ( optional ) , some wheat germ ( optional), and pour in the water and mix them well.
    After that, I added a handful of dried cranberries and tear 2 slices of cheddar cheese and mix them again. Cover it and let it rest for 12 hours.
    Then flour the sticky dough with spatula while heating up my Le Creuset pot in oven for 30 mins, and then pour the dough into the pot and bake for 30 mins with cover and remove cover and bake for 5-10 mins for browning.

    Ps. Your son is so adorable !

    Thanks

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  23. Brit T

    I love this bread!! I made one modification, I mixed poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, dried onion flakes, and sesame seeds to coat the top of the bun. I love love love this recipe and the bread is delicious and super easy!

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