Tuesday, December 05, 2006

No Knead Bread

Wow, wow, wow! The Most Impressive Recipe I have Ever Had Success With
2006 the new york times no knead bread no-knead bread attempt by sam breach of becks & posh food blog with notes on high altitude baking and baking the recipe without a dutch oven or le creuset with lid - bake directly on a baking sheet

Do you really need one more person to tell you how much they love this unbelievable and simple recipe, that produces a light, fluffy, crackly-crusted irresitable white loaf of bread that no one will believe was homemade.

Ever since first reading the article about Jim Lahey's "No Knead Bread" that was published [you will need free registration to view] in the New York Times over at Luisa's The Wednesday Chef I have been desperate to make it. But since I am currently being careful with my diet and trying to lose weight I have been avoiding white bread, which I can't resist and which I can't help but slather with thick wedges of butter. Instead, every three weeks I make a hearty loaf of wholewheat bread, cut it into 30+ of the thinnest slicest imagineable and indulge one slice at a time, spread with a modest amount of avocado.

Last weekend, however, one of my closest friends, Penny, was having a birthday/houswarming potluck party in her new home. This was the perfect excuse for me to try out the No Knead Bread Recipe, like many bloggers before me, including my sister, who kindly sent me the recipe (it was inaccessible on the NYT site for a while). The bread was a hit with everyone who tried it and I can't wait to make it again. Have you experiemented with no knead bread yet?

Recipe notes: I sucessfully used fresh compressed yeast instead of instant dried as specified in the recipe. I stirred it into the 1 5/8 cups of tepid water before mixing with the flour. I did not find the amount of water to be too much (a criticism I have read on other sites). In fact I had no problems at all. I used an oval Le Creuset 'Marmite' to cook my bread in. It turned out wonderfully except next time I might try a touch more salt.

Link to New York Times Recipe [free registration required]
Link to NYT video clip of Jim Lahey making the No Knead Bread. [Watch through the advert to see the video]

PS - Other very successful brunch potluck ideas I tried last Saturday: A Bakewell Tart using marmalade instead of jam and little bite-sized pies filled with a mix of bacon, sausage, mushroom and egg.

PPS - Update Dec 30th 2006: I am in Tahoe and I have made this bread at least half a dozen times. Despite the high altitude which usually leads to baking disasters, the innacurate measuring devices we have at our disposal and different rising times tried, this bread has turned out perfectly every time. Rock Star bread recipe!

PPS - Update Jan 3rd 2007: Thanks to a suggestion from Farmgirl, I tried baking two loaves at once without the aid of a covered Le Creuset. Not even a pizza stone - I just baked them on a metal baking sheet and still they turned out impressively. No-knead to ever buy bread again, heh?

Update Jan 23rd 2007: Just tried my first loaf using wholewheat flour, 2 cups white bread flour to 1 cup wholewheat. Divided the dough into two, rolled out into mini baguette shapes, baked on a pizza stone for about 30 minutes: results - very satisfying indeed.

2005 | Do you hate Sandra Lee?
2004 | Spiced Marmalade Marzipan Tartelettes

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No Knead Bread


  • At 5/12/06 09:46, Blogger Kitchen Monkey said…

    Hey Sam,

    What kind of flour did you use? I've made it now with bread flour, and using 1/2 bread flour and 1/2 all purpose. I didn't notice much difference between the two. It was very very good, but I'd also like to figure out how to make it with a more consistent crumb, with less glutenosity (this should be a word). Maybe less water? Less rising time? Damn it! I'm a cook, not a baker!

    Anyhow, mincing some fresh rosemary and mixing it in with the batter before the initial rise is delicious!


  • At 5/12/06 10:17, Blogger Veron said…

    Hi Sam , I have made it too although yours looked a lot better than mine. Having never baked bread in my life I am touting it as the miracle recipe of the year since I got it right the first time.

  • At 5/12/06 11:59, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Sam,

    I've made this bread several times, and posted about it a few times as well. I've actually had success with a 1/2 whole wheat loaf, and the loaf I have rising now is 100% whole wheat.

    (Which means, you could probably make a version of this bread that won't destroy your weight-loss goals.)

    The trick with the whole-wheat recipes is that you actually have to increase the water content (to as high as 100% ratio by weight). I'm using 1 7/8 cups of water. I'll stop back tomorrow to let you know how the 100% whole wheat turned out.

    Your loaf looks great!

  • At 5/12/06 12:27, Blogger Reb said…

    Sam what a great recipe - I'm so trying this on the weekend, it looks fanastic.

  • At 5/12/06 12:52, Blogger CM said…

    Hiya Sam -
    I made this a few weeks back. It came out a bit flat, but had a fabulously crispy crust.

    The thing is, I like kneading bread! I kinda missed it. And by the time I finished this recipe, I didn't really see how it was any easier or more time-saving than just making a typical loaf - plus I had a bundle of floury towels and a floury cast iron pot to deal with.

    So, I like the results but I'm not sure if I'm completely sold on this recipe yet...

  • At 5/12/06 12:58, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sam nice photo glad to see you are following your sister!! It seems so easy I may have a go but like you I actually don't want to eat much bread maybe a good time would be when Becs comes at Christmas. I don't really have a heavy casserole dish I shall have to buy one.

  • At 5/12/06 14:09, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi--Peter Reinhart has a blog now too (um, which big food personalities don't). Anyway, thought you might like to see what he says too:


  • At 5/12/06 14:41, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ah, I've been dying to try this as well. I'm heartened now! Just in time for holiday entertaining ...

  • At 5/12/06 14:43, Blogger cookiecrumb said…

    Oh yeah. I copied that recipe the day it came out, but I haven't done the full drill. (I did use the heated Dutch oven to bake my whole-wheat bread for 100-mile Thanksgiving, but it wasn't sufficiently risen, and -- gack.)
    Yours is beautiful, and now I know I'm really gonna give it a try. (Thanks for the half-wheat tip, Amy!)
    Revolutionary, eh? Yay.

  • At 5/12/06 17:01, Blogger Teresa said…

    What a gorgeous loaf of bread. I'm inspired to try my hand at bread-making!

  • At 5/12/06 17:14, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That looks fantastic! I actually went out last week and dropped some coin on a new 8 qt pot to use for that recipe, but I have not gotten round to it yet. I want my 9-year-old to help me make it because a) he's the resident bread ho around here, and b) I had my own starter and made bread all the time before he came along and I got to busy for kneading.

  • At 5/12/06 17:27, Blogger Shauna said…

    Damn. All my fellow food bloggers are making me sad that I cannot eat gluten.

    For anyone reading who cannot eat gluten and is tempted to make this with other flours: forget about it. I tried. Twice. Huge failure. Bread so hard I could hurt someone with it.


    But yours looks gorgeous, Sam.

  • At 5/12/06 18:36, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Very impressive Sam. I am possibly the only one to turn out a loaf that looked ordinary. However it tasted fantastic. So good I'm afraid of making it too often as I'm trying to loose a bit of weight too.

  • At 5/12/06 20:28, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This bread looks great! Although, I am cutting down on bread also I have to try making this.

  • At 6/12/06 01:10, Blogger Pille said…

    Your bread looks wonderfully light and moist, Sam! I've seen those 'no-knead-bread' posts all over the blogosphere, as well as eGullet, and have been struggling to resist making it myself, as I've got too many other recipes on my to-do list at the moment:)

  • At 6/12/06 06:24, Blogger wheresmymind said…

    MAN...all the cool kids make this!

  • At 6/12/06 08:28, Blogger Kaer Trouz said…

    I made this too, using rye flour and spelt. Totally fiberrific! This yielded a very dense, German like bread with a very compact crumb. I used Oetker instant yeast, which I feel makes really fine homemade bread, conventionally kneaded or not. Toasted and slather with butter (or yogurt) it was awesome.
    check it out if you wish-


  • At 6/12/06 08:29, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    good god sam! must all your recipes turn out better than mine! just kidding!

    as some have noted subbing in whole wheat flour is a breeze. i've been using white whole wheat for mine in a 1/3 to 2/3 www to white ratio and they've been turning out lovely! the best one i made i let rise initially for just about 24 hours and let the second rise go for nearly 4. the difference in the crumb was astounding

    i humbly maintain that it was the most perfect loaf of bread i've ever tasted ;-)

  • At 6/12/06 08:54, Blogger Sam said…

    In response to people who mentioned floury teatowels - I did not have this problem at all. I used just one towel and cornmeal and had no sticky goo at all to contend with, just a little in the original bowl I left overnight. I know my sister said she had a problem with the towel goo, not me.

    I used white bread flour only this time round.

    thanks for all the tips re other flours. Will have to experiment

    I think I will still be making my little heavy wholewheat loaf for every day eating though! I love it too - but in a different way.

    thanks everyone


  • At 6/12/06 19:52, Blogger Sandy said…

    Hi Sam,

    Glad you got to try the no-knead bread - your loaf looks beautiful! I've made it many times now and posted a few times on what I learned along the way. My favorite is using a sour dough starter with 50% whole wheat/pumpernickle. Incidentally, sour dough breads are considered a complex carb. :)



  • At 10/12/06 08:41, Blogger Sam said…

    I made it successfully again, this time despite the fact that when i took the le creuset from the oven to add the bread, to stop myself burning my stupid hand i dropped the lid and unbeknownst to me it nudged the oven dial and turned off the oven, so when I came to take the bread put t was barely cooked, so I turned the heat back on left in a while longer and it was still perfect.

    this time used buckwheat instead of cornmeal on the outside.

  • At 3/1/07 19:43, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi, I made the bread and substituted one cup wheat for white and it still came out wonderfully. I didn't do anything else different. In case you haven't tried it yet, thought I'd tell you. It makes it slightly healthier than all-white anyway. I need to lose weight too. :P

  • At 6/1/07 16:02, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So glad everyone's posting this recipe all over the 'net - otherwise I would've missed it! Made the bread this past week ( ) and it turned out great ( )! I used about 1/3 all purpose flour, 1/3 bread flour and 1/3 whole wheat flour, and tossed in a couple handfuls of flax seed.

    I figure I'll try making it again real soon with a little less flax (and this time I'll crush them), plus some sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, and maybe some oatmeal? Will probably keep the same ratio of flours - although it did turn out a LITTLE chewier than I would've liked (less AP flour? less whole wheat flour?). Definitely had good flavor and lotsa bubbles from all that sitting around...

    And I might try to cook it in something smaller to hopefully give it a little more height...was fairly flat.

    Still - thanks so much for posting this, as well as the link back!

  • At 19/1/07 19:45, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This turned out exactly like our favorite artisan bakery bread-- yahoo! No more $4 loaves (plus a 45-minute drive)!!! I've made mine in 2 different pots. The 4.5 quart KitchenAid andonized saucepot made a nice, high loaf (about 3-1/2" high x 7" in diameter. The 4.5 quart stainless steel Dutch oven was larger in diameter and made a flatter loaf, like a roundish ciabatta.

  • At 15/2/07 20:43, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Amy- you never posted again saying how your 100% whole wheat loaf went. I would LOVE the recipe for that!

  • At 3/3/07 11:08, Blogger Christine said…

    Okay, so I finally got around to making this, and wow! it is amazing (although I have yet to eat it, since I made it for dinner, it looks absolutely incredible, and the rise is brilliant!).
    One question, though: I baked it in a (black) cast iron dutch oven at 500 degrees, which quickly engulfed my kitchen in smoke, and required that, not only to turn on the vent, but to open a window (it's around 25 degrees outside...). Because the pan is so dark, would lowering the oven temp, perhaps to 475, be fine? Or do I have to live with second-hand smoke from my oven every time I make this (thinking of it now, looking at my kitchen that still looks hazy, it might be a small price to pay...).

    Thanks for your help,

  • At 3/3/07 13:08, Blogger Sam said…

    christina - did your oven have a lid? I would think that would stop itfrom smoking, no? I have never had a smoking problem with this recipe, but I have had smoking problems with other foods I cook sometimes. The original recipe calls for 450 degrees so it looks like you should be fine lowering the temperature. Sometimes I heat my le creuset at 500 then turn down to 450 for the bread baking stage.

    Good luck - I hope you like it,


  • At 22/3/07 11:27, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just made this recipe and it is wonderful !!! One question ... should the pan be greased before heating and baking ? I did and had a gummy residue after baking. Thanks !

  • At 22/3/07 11:34, Blogger Sam said…

    no - no greasing necessary at all.
    after cooking you barely need to even wash the pan - you can just dust out the flour residue. (wait til it cools down first though)

  • At 11/3/08 17:00, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    piebpfgIWe love this bread and have made it often. See that America's test kitchen has one that uses beer. Will try it. They also have a cranberry pecan almost no knead bread but can't access the recipe without taking a trial magazine. Has anyone experimented with a no knead fruit bread?

  • At 7/5/08 18:57, Blogger mary said…

    Hi, I have tried to make this bread about 6 times. It tastes real good, but it doesn't rise. It is only about 2" high. What am I doing wrong. Help!! mary

  • At 10/7/08 03:01, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Good Job! :)

  • At 8/8/08 19:10, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm not a baker, I'm an artist and inventor so my first inclination is to 'tinker'.
    Here's what I've come up with (among other things) for a very robust, I call it "deli bread".
    Using the basic recipe (3 C. flour), I use 1-1/2 C. Whole Wheat, 1-1/4 C. unbleached, 1/2 C. quinoa flour* and 1/4 C. flax flour**.
    *Quinoa is considered the "mother of all grains". Very good for you. BUT, you have to rinse the seeds, dry them and then grind them into flour (I use a coffee grinder).
    **Flax has a 'shelf-life', in the shell of up to 9,000 years but loses nutrients when ground (and not refrigerated) so, I grind mine, as above, just before using.
    Everything else is the same.

    I have had nothing but positive feedback with the results...maybe because I give it away.

    This recipe has incredible lateral movement. You can make a LOT of mistakes and still have an edible bread.

  • At 8/8/08 19:27, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My apologies for posting 'anonymous'. I'm the artist who posted the 'deli bread' recipe. I'm also new to this forum and don't know how things work.
    If anyone wants to 'get back' to me (or at me), I THINK, I've made my availability public.
    If you have any questions as to what I've tried...lemmie know.

  • At 14/3/09 14:09, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    I have been wanting to make this bread, and have a Le Creuset pan like yours. I am afraid to put the lid in the oven though since it says it is rated to 200C (395 f)
    I don't want to ruin the pan, but if you didn't have a problem, then I will try it. Thanks.


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