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

no-knead-bread-revisited

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.

How to make bread

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

Add flour

1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast:

Add yeast

1 teaspoon of table salt

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

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!

Stir

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

Bread dough mixture

Wrap up the no knead bread dough

bread dough

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

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.)

No knead bread

Dump out on floured surface:

Bread dough

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.

bread dough

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.

Easy bread recipe

“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!

No knead bread recipe

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!

Homemade 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.

Print

No Knead Bread Recipe

Servings: One 1-pound loaf Prep Time: Cook Time:
no-knead-bread-revisited

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)

See the kids make German Oven Pancakes German oven pancakes

Also try: Bread and Dukah blend Dip bread in Olive Oil and Dukkah

Bagna Cauda Dip in Bagna Cauda

Cajun Shrimp Recipe Sop up juices in Killer Cajun Shrimp


Comments 1,312

  1. maryland

    Have you ever oiled the pan before baking? If so, how did that work out?

  2. Devin

    Yummm!!!

    Made this bread with my son. We wondered how it would turn out… we were thinking failure, but it was EXCELLENT!!! A fun, easy artisan bread, that we will make over and over. Thank you!

    Devin & Easton

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  5. Barbara

    This clever presentation made me WANT to give this a try, had some time, so made two bowls, used tow different “pots” to bake and, excellent results. Now that the ice has been broken with artisan bread, I think my bread machine and I are going to have to break up.

  6. Mike Carteret NJ

    well for my first time baking bread this was the easisest to make and the tastiest I must say Im going to continue making this bread. it can out awsome.

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  8. Erin

    So I just made this recipe and it was a complete and utter failure. I got to the last step where you take the dough out of the bowl to place in the baking pot, and the dough was completely stuck to the wax paper in the bowl. I thought wax paper would work just as well as parchment paper, but apparently not. When trying to remove the dough from the paper, the paper just started disintegrating into the dough. It could not be recovered so the whole thing went into the trash.

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  10. poltaco

    .. wiesz, powiem ci, że to jest poezja… poznałem ten przepis kilka lat temu, robiłem ten chleb kilkanaście razy i zawsze mi wyszedł .. dzięki za ten przepis.. polecałem go wszystkim moim znajomym a dostałem go od mojego brata.. robiłem różne mieszanki ze słonecznikiem, z orzechami włoskimi nawet z otrębami.. ale dopiero dzisiaj przeczytałem co na samym końcu i to jest piękne… zrobić chleb wspólnie i cieszyć się razem.. chyba nikt w życiu nie doceni coś piękniejszego jak sobie sam nie upiecze chleba… pozdrawiam…

  11. lindacbugg

    I went to my local Winco and in the ‘Bins’ got bread flour and instant yeast and have had great results with all the loafs I’ve made. I’m pretty sure there is one in you area and they should have both white and wheat flour. Great way to save some money on your supplies :)

  12. Chit

    Hi jaden…I wonder if I can make this into bread rolls and let it rise in like muffin pans? Or can I make it into a log and let it come out like mini baguettes?

    Thanks

    Chit

  13. Jodi

    I did everything exactly as it is written, but like Erin, the dough stuck to the parchment paper when trying to put it in the heated pot. It lost all its shape and went in the pot flat and messy. Did I do something wrong? I looked at other sites and they said to well flour the dough after shaping and tucking, but this recipe says not to do that, and to use only water. I feel like the water was the culprit. I hope someone replies and shares a solution.

  14. Joanna

    I do flour the parchment a bit but the main thing is – PUT THE DOUGH IN THE POT WITH THE PARCHMENT!
    It will come off easily once baked.
    Also it allows you to handle the dough more easily.

  15. Joanna

    Wspanialy chleb. Mozna dodac mak albo cebule albo sezamki. Palce lizac!

  16. lindacbugg

    You don’t need to remove it from the parchment paper before baking–just put it right in the pot on the paper. Parchment paper is used in baking so you don’t have to grease your pans. Just plop it in the bottom of the pan on the paper and you should be fine.
    I do mine on a floured plastic grocery bag in my bowl so the dough doesn’t stick and when I’m ready to remove it I get my hands wet and turn the dough upside down in my hands and pull the bag away from the dough. Then I just plop it in the pan and shake a little to center it. Works every time and I make 3 or 4 loaves a week.

  17. Jess

    I was so excited to try this. I don’t have a Le Crueset so I was going to use a cast iron pot that has been sitting in the cupboard forever. It started smoking an INSANE amount and I had to turn the oven off — first attempt at the bread is therefore a giant fail :-( I guess I just need to get a different type of pot.

  18. TJ

    If you don’t have a dutch oven style pot, I use the pot from my crockpot. Heat oven, stick pot in for a half hour, plop dough in and cover it with foil for the first 30 minutes and remove for 15. I’ve done this countless times and they come out delicious each time. I’ve added whole garlic cloves and cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese and oregano, orange zest and dried cranberries..the possibilities are endless :D

  19. Allyson

    My guess would be since it was sitting for a while the “seasoning” was gone from it. Try seasoning it first. I do believe seasoning is rubbing vegetable oil and heating it on your highest setting. I know there are tutorials. My grandma showed me once but how she did it is really fuzzy.

  20. Allyson

    This bread is BEAUTIFUL! I didn’t have a dutch oven, but I did use my tall soup pot it worked great! I did unscrew the handle and flipped the lid inside out to get it off easier. I just rubbed some olive oil on the bottom with a paper towel to be on the safe side so it wouldn’t stick. I don’t think this bread is going to last past dinner!

  21. Dan

    Since you burned your pot, the recipe and instructions must be bad.

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  25. Eduardo

    Don’t you think it would have been smart of you to try again, Erin, before writing this note? I have heard from so many people how easy this bread is to make and how good it tastes. For me it turned out great the first time. You must have made some mistake or used the wrong paper or pot to end up with failure. Don’t give up that easily, give it another try and you will likely succeed.

  26. Alan Lewis

    The bread is the best ever. And I make all our bread two times a week. Saying good bye to kneading :-)
    Instead of paper I used a Teflon cooking mat. Works well

  27. Eddie

    I have made this bread many times. My pot is an old cast-iron dutch oven. I preheat and when I’m ready to put the dough in pot I lightly oil and put the dough in immediately. Cover and return to oven. Bread never sticks.

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  30. Rick

    I’m making this for the second time as I’m writing this. This recipe is so easy – even a guy like me can make it. Perfect as written – I did flour my parchment paper – just makes it easier! Also made some homemade butter to go with this! Yah baby!

  31. Marsha

    I love no-knead bread, have made it many times, but now that I’m living at 4400 feet, I’m finding that the altitude does terrible things to my bread dough. No suggestions I have yet encountered within the past year have allowed me to produce a decent boule or loaf. Hat tip to that little bread-making cutie though. :-)

  32. Sarvi

    Wax paper vs parchment paper vs rolling paper vs construction paper vs whatever other paper you’re trying to use: use parchment paper (google [parchment paper baking] if you don’t know what the box looks like). Don’t use other papers. The whole point of the parchment paper is that it doesn’t matter if the dough sticks to it like crazy. You are using it as a sling to transfer from bowl to pot. After 45 min in a 450 oven, there will be nothing sticky. You can then use the parchment paper to lift the bread out. Clean pot, voila. You can oil/butter/flour everything to hell and back if you want to make a mess for no earthly reason or if you are superstitious. Why not flour the outside of your oven, while you’re pointlessly flouring things? Might want to sprinkle some fairy dust in there too. Joking! Just use parchment paper, life will be good. Enjoy your bread!

  33. Kathryn

    I’m going to try using roofing paper, and also will flour my oven inside and out. I expect…a great mess.

    Still laughing at your comments, Sarvi! :)

    And I still don’t get the fuss over sticky dough. Yes the dough is sticky. I’ve perfected a technique for getting it out of the mixing bowl onto the floured bread board, and then from the board into my Pyrex casserole. It’s called wetting my hands with cold water (per the original instructions) and using my fingertips gently, lightly, and quickly.

    I tip the bowl, leaning the edge on the cutting board next to the floured area, then as the dough starts to slide out of the bowl, I quickly and lightly use my wet fingers to scrape the dough away from the bowl. This whole process takes about 10 seconds at most. Maybe a little dough sticks to my fingers. I rinse it off.

    Now I have this wet blob on my cutting board. Making sure my hands are sufficiently wet, I pick up an edge of the dough and stretch it over the blob. I repeat this three more times, pulling up from four different “sides” of the dough. Quickly, quickly. Then I turn it over, quickly, quickly, using the fingertips. The idea is to touch it as little as possible.

    You are in control! Don’t be fussy, just do it fast. Very little mess. Then I cover it with the same piece of plastic wrap that was over the bowl while rising. Just lay it gently on top and push the edges gently around the dough. Let it rise, preheat the oven and the baking dish with cover.

    When the dough has risen and the oven and baking dish are preheated, I carefully take the dish out of the oven, remove the lid, and set it on the bread board next to the dough. I take off the plastic wrap, wet my hands yet again, and quickly, gently pull up on the edges of the dough all the way around. Fast! you must be fast! Then in one fell swoop scoop up the dough with fairy fingers, lightly and lightening fast, and plop the dough into the bowl. Don’t hesitate, don’t fuss, be bold and confident. It may be lopsided, lumpy, or otherwise unsightly, it really doesn’t matter.

    The point, in my mind, of not flouring things any more than absolutely necessary AND of wetting your hands, not oiling or flouring, is that it’s the high moisture content that makes this bread so delightful. I’m also convinced that “baking like a fairy”, moving quickly, confidently, and having the mindset of “I’m touching this dough but only for milliseconds” is what makes it work.

    Use parchment if you must, but fairy bread baking works for me. Love the process, love the bread, love life with homemade bread!

    1. Kathryn

      Oops, was typing too fast and “sent” before proofreading. I set the casserole next to the dough, not the lid, and plop the dough into the casserole, not the bowl.

  34. Katy

    In 33 years I’ve never managed to make a successful loaf of bread – until now! It’s amazing, thank you for sharing the recipe. It’s so easy, my 2 year old so helped with it (sort of) and it’s so lovely. I only had one problem with it – it was so nice most of the loaf was devoured in 10 minutes!

  35. Joanna

    This recipe is so good you have to watch out not to overdose on carbs!

  36. monique

    lovely… this bread has loveall over. your boy sure is lucky to have a mom like u

  37. Jim

    This is the greatest recipe ever , I have been baking this bread every week for about six months now , here’s a time saver that I adapted successfully to this.

    Mix dough ,wait 18 hrs , turn onto floured surface , then I put it directly into a well seasoned cast aluminum pot that has been greased with coconut oil , put lid on pot , let rise two hours and put into 425 degree oven (60 minutes for a double sized loaf) .

    This method works for me every time and never sticks , it eliminates the use of cornmeal or bran which I found very messy , and saves using the towel or burning yourself while trying to flip the soft dough into a super hot pan.

    I make a double loaf once a week and it lasts all week for my wife and I , it is the greatest bread ever , I have two matching pots so I often do two loaves and give one away to friends , they all love it !

  38. Kylah

    I love this bread, works every time. I just tried it using all whole wheat pastry flour and almost 1/2 a teaspoon of yeast. It was, obviously, a little dense, but not as dense as I thought, I think with a little more yeast, the whole wheat pastry flour would turn out pretty well.

  39. Sharma

    Hi this looks wonderful, and easy to do,…I just wondered if I double the ingredients to make a bigger loaf will this effect the process in any way? Thanks again for the recipe xxx

  40. Tracey

    Awesome pics!! Such a little cutie of a helper you have, hope hes still your willing/cheap labor assistant!! lol

    Sharma, I have been making this bread for a few years now and have found (this is just imho) that its best to just use two bowls. Perfect bread E.V.E.R.Y. time if “directions” are followed. ;-)

    You explained how to make this bread perfectly!! Bravo!!

  41. frank

    this looks like great bread for a bread bowl. is it possible to divide that into two or three smaller loaves?

  42. JG

    To be clear, the RECIPE was not the failure – YOU were the failure b/c you did not follow the recipe correctly. Wax paper is horrible to use for. Try again.

  43. oroboros

    What about using a loaf tin? Would this work, and if it absolutely needs to be covered use some aluminum foil?

  44. Deborah Thompson

    Hi Erin,
    Try again! I just made this for the first time today, I bought Lodge parchment from Amazon. just enter “Lodge Parchement” in search. I got in two days. After the dough has rested or slept for the 12 to 18 hours, I did 12 hrs. The dough has the tiny pin hole bubbles on the surface, I floured the counter and plopped out the dough onto counter using a fork to pull dough from edges, floured my hands, then started from the edge of the blob and folded over to center then again adding flour so my hands did not stick. Mind you Im a novice at this! I put alittle flour into the center of my parchment that I had put in a big bowl, ( the Parchment is round in shape and will fit any Cast Iron Dutch Oven, I used a 5 QT. Lodge Dutch Oven ( this was my choose of vessel to cook the bread in) and put the piece of parchment in pot before I pre-heated it and cut the parchment to fit this size of pot, the parchment is a one size fits all so Its pretty big, I had trimed the excess from around the top then I followed rest of directions. Put your loaf in parchment in bowl, Let rest for another 2 hours covered with cotton towel covering. I pre-heated the oven with the pot in the oven.
    As Iam now ready to place the entire parchment and loaf, I pick it up and place it in the hot dutch oven that has been pre-heating, cover with lid and place in oven for 30 minutes. Then take the lid off to finish browning the loaf. 20 mins. more. Perfect!

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