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. Joanna

    It always ends up a goopy mess for me too. I just put a lot of flour on my board and as it absorbs the flour it becomes the right consistency. Comes out perfect every time.

  2. Kathryn

    Mine is a goopy mess too. I also flour my cutting board heavily. When it’s time to move it into the pan, I use cold water on my hands, also as suggested. Inevitably it ends up lopsided in the pan, but evens out somewhat in the baking. I love this recipe; I use it a couple times a week and it comes out homely but yummy each time, even when I forget a step, it’s somewhat forgiving (such as not preheating the pan in the oven). The consistency changes a little, it’s more dense, but still delicious.

  3. Nina

    Can you just lift the parchment with the dough and just place the whole thing into the pot?

  4. Elaine

    I just lift the dough out of the bowl right on the parchment and lower it into the preheated pot. It helps reduce the risk of burning your hands. Just leave enough extra paper as a “handle.” Has anyone added herbs to this? I love rosemary bread with almond butter. I have made several white and wheat loaves with this recipe and they are always the big hit of the meal. I almost feel bad for the rest of the food. :) So much for my low carb lifestyle!

  5. Ed

    lifting it up with the parchment paper and lowering it in the pan with that paperis exactly what I am doing because it sticks too much to the paper, trying to get it into a hot pan without th epaper is just too difficult and dangerous

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  7. Chocolatesa

    Thank you again for this recipe! I made it once years ago and then lost track of it and was reminded of it today, just in time to bring to a Christmas party! And thank you also for the parchment paper trick because I went out and bought a cast-iron dutch oven just so I could make this!

  8. Connie Headrick

    Well, to the person who said that kneading bread is so good & a great thing to do, well, I agree! 39 months ago, I was in a crash that ripped the cartiledge & tore the tendons between my ribs – So I can’t knead bread! Was really wanting to bake bread & felt so frustrated. A friend of mine told me about No Knead Bread & I have made 2 loaves in two days! Love it with Kerry Gold! And I just recommended No Knead Bread to a friend who has torn his shoulder and loves to bake! This is wonderful!

  9. Theresa-TT

    Jaden, Thank you so much for this awesome recipe along with the adorable photos and story about your son. I made this bread for the first time today for Xmas and it was great. I used active dry yeast from a packet. And after the initial long nap I dumped it onto floured parchment paper and then put the whole thing in a high bowl to nap the second time. Instead of dumping into the pan I lifted the parchment paper with dough right from the bowl into the pot. Only one sheet of paper used and ZERO cleanup. Since I didn’t dump it over into the pan it stayed a perfect round ball. And all I had was an old stainless pasta pot that I used with a glass lid that didnt even go with it. After it was cooked I lifted the parchment paper and bread right onto a rack to cool. It was the most gorgeous round loaf ever! My friend and I were giddy and could barely wait 5 minutes before tearing into it and slathering it with butter. I will be making this weekly and trying all kinds of variations. Thanks again!!

  10. Rhiannon

    My bread sticks to the parchment paper after it’s nap. I don’t want to waste any dough. Could I flour the parchment paper to keep it from sticking?

  11. Joanna

    Don’t take it off the parchment – bake it with the parchment. The paper will come off easily after baking. Also, as mentioned above, the paper provides “handles” for lifting the dough out of the napping bowl and placing it in the pot.
    A little bit of flour on the parchment works well, too.

  12. Marion

    I roasted a garlic and put cut up pieces of it in the dough. Truly heavenly. Great recipe!!

  13. Lindsey M.

    Thank you for this great recipe. I am already on my second bath this weekend–the first was gobbled up in less than 24 hours. Delicious!

  14. Jane B.

    For my altitude – I needed 1/4 cup more flour – so I substituted with 1/4 cup grated parmesian cheese – same water, salt, yeast – plus the 1 tsp red wine vinegar to speed things up – let rise 4 hours – after I put it in the pan i sprinkle with same parmesian – MMMMmmmmmm good!!

  15. David

    Thank you for this! I have made it for every big holiday meal and my family thinks I am a baking god – but it’s all because of you :)

  16. foozy

    what a wonderful story!!! what an adorable little boy you have :) the whole thing is well written. i will be trying this recipe in the coming days as i live in france and even through i’m a graduate of ducasse ensp academy and a graduate of the cordon bleu, it’s kind of hard to bake in a tiny little kitchen and french bread always involves a massive headache :)
    my mom loves bread with poppy seeds so i’m going to give it a go.
    thank you for the humor..

  17. Lisa

    I’ve used a few of your our recipes so far, all have been great. You also have a wonderful way with words. Keep it up! I love to read them.

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  19. hobbiehobbie

    Oh my, I was so excited to try this recipe….but my dough seemed to have risen more than I expected after the first “nap” and not at all after the second “nap”….

    Any suggestions?

  20. Tonya

    StumbledUpon this recipe and was inspired enough to finally conquer my fear of bread baking. I pulled my loaf out of the oven and couldn’t wait longer than maybe 10 minutes before tasting it. The crust is fantastic. The insides are amazing.

    Thank you so much for this!

  21. stacey

    Do you bake it in the pot with the parchment paper? The parchment paper I have says not to go above 420 degrees but the recipe calls for 450 degrees. I don’t want to start a fire!

  22. Joanna

    I bake it in the pot with the parchment. The paper comes out a bit burnt but no fire and not dangerous.

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  24. Chit

    Hi…will this bread recipe be good also if I shape them into small hard rolls? Thanks! Been looking for a good no knead recipe for hard rolls.

  25. Question about altitude

    I am in colorado. I followed every step but the dought did not rise at all. Do I need to do something different in the altitude?

  26. Baker2992

    Whole wheat flour doesn’t have as much gluten, so it’s a lot harder to bake with. My solutions:

    autolyse – mix the flour with the water before you add the yeast. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes.

    slower rise – use less yeast and let the dough rise overnight in your fridge.

    wetter is better – you want to dough to be as wet as possible while still maintaining it’s shape. This promotes those nice big, uneven bubbles.

  27. Toknee

    I have made this bread twice without modifications. I see from the comments there are some very imaginative bakers who tried some additions.I think I will try s few of them. Also please tell me if anyone has frozen the bread and reheated it. Does it still come out OK.

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  35. Amit

    The red wine vinegar will help it rise? I’m from india and can’t find the any kind of yeast in stores. I tried making this with curd but in vain. We do have the vinegar you mentioned though. Are there any other ways to substitute yeast?

  36. Marie

    Bread looks great, I’m going to give it a try, but a couple of questions: I only have one of those big oval roasting pans with a cover, can I use that to bake the bread or is it too big and then the bread will spread out and not hold it’s shape? Cxn I double the recipe and bake two in that same roasting pan?

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