Faster and Easier No-Knead Bread

by Alice Currah on November 16, 2011. Updated August 7, 2013

I missed the the No-Knead bread phenomena in 2006 when Mark Bittman posted Jim Lahey’s recipe for No-Knead Bread in the New York Times.  Lahey’s ridiculously easy method for mixing bread dough and his method for baking it in a pot went viral as people around the world discovered they could, too, bake beautiful crusty artisan rustic bread at home without the fuss.  It wasn’t until a couple years ago I heard about No-Knead bread when my neighbor brought over a loaf and we ended up sharing slices of yummy white bread slathered in buter and jam.

When Sarah told me how easy it was to make bread at home I didn’t believe her.  I thought she was joking because I believe in the saying, if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is.  But it was gloriously true.  And since then I have become a convert.

I’ve always hesitated to write about this bread because it’s already been done.  What left can be said about this bread?  However, I’ve been baking two loaves every other day the last couple months and I thought it would be a great idea to share with you how I like to make this bread because it is faster and easier than Lahey’s original way of doing it.

 

To make the bread is fairly simple.  You mix luke warm water, flour, yeast, and salt in a bowl with a spoon unil the dry ingredients have been completed mixed with the water. It takes less than one minute.  From there you cover the bowl with a wet  kitchen towel, plastic wrap, or foil.  You let the dough rest overnight.  This is where I do things a little bit different than Lahey.  The original recipe calls for folding the dough and letting it go a second rise in a cloth generously covered in flour.  When it comes time to bake, you preheat a cast-iron pot with the lid on.  When the oven is ready, you are suppose to carefully remove the lid and transfer the bread into the hot pot without burning yourself.

I had multiple issues with doing it this way.  Often times my bread would stick to the cloth – a bread baking no-no.  I hated having to pull dough from the cloth and then throwing the cloth away because I was always afraid to wash it with my other laundry.  Then there was the whole issue I had with making sure I didn’t burn myself when transferring the dough to the hot pot.  This was a source of some bread baking anxiety that often occured for me.  Sometimes the bottom crust of the bread would burn but I still found baking this bread worth it.  That is, until I discovered a few tips and tricks to make it so easy, it’s practically fail proof.

The way I make No-Bread is by mixing the ingredients like the original method and letting it rest overnight.  The next day when I’m ready to bake, I line the bottom of my pots (1 cast iron and the other one a normal non-stick soup pot) with a small square of parchment paper.  Instead of punching the dough down for a second rise, I add just enough flour to the bubbly looking dough (because I make two at a time) so I can scoop the dough from the bowl without it sticking too much to my hands.  From there I place the loosely formed dough ball in the center of each pot.  I cover the pots with lids and stick them both in my cold oven.  I set the oven temperature to 450 degrees F. and my kitchen timer for 30 minutes.  When my timer goes off I carefully open the oven door and remove both lids and close the oven door for the bread to continue to bake. I set my timer for another 30 minutes.  When the timer rings, I carefully remove the pots from the oven.

Inside the pots are beautiful, rustic, artisan-like bread which can only be described as glorious.  I grab clean kitchen towels and tongs carefully removing the loaves from the pots.  The smell of warm yeasted bread wafting throughout the house is incredible.  As far as the flavor and texture, I can only describe it as glorious.  Beautiful, glorious bread with no burned bottom crust.

My mother has taken to making bread almost daily.  I converted her.  And trust me, if she can do it, you can do it, too.  This easier way of baking this bread is a game changer.  You’ll want to bake bread all the time and I don’t blame you one bit.  You’ll never want to buy artisan bread again.

Tips:  If you have two pots with oven safe lids that can fit in your oven, make two batchs of this at the same time and bake both loaves at the same time.  The baking times are the same and you’ll be happy to have two loaves because the first one always disapears so quickly.  Any leftover bread can be stored in a ziplock bag.  The crust will soften a bit in a ziplock bag but it makes for excellent sandwich bread, toast, and for making croutons.

 

 

Faster and Easier No-Knead Bread
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Faster, Easier No Knead Rustic Bread
Ingredients
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1½ cup luke warm water
Instructions
  1. In a medium large bowl, mix the flour, salt, and yeast together. Pour the water over the flour mixture and mix with a spoon until the flour is absorbed and the mixture resembles wet sticky dough. Cover the bowl with either plastic wrap, foil, or a clean, wet, kitchen towel. Place the bowl in a warm place.
  2. Allow the dough to rest overnight.
  3. Cut a piece of parchment paper slightly smaller than the base of the pot. Place the parchment paper inside the pot.
  4. Sprinkle just enough flour on the dough to be able to scoop the dough out with your hand without being too sticky. Place the loosely form dough ball in the center of the pot, on top of the parchment paper. Place a oven-safe lid on top of the pot and place it in the cold oven.
  5. Turn the oven on to 450 degrees F and set a kitchen timer for 30 minutes.
  6. After 30 minutes, carefully remove the lid from the pot and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Remove the pot from the oven and carefully remove loaf from the pot.
  7. Allow the bread to rest for 5 minutes before cutting into slices.
Notes
If using a convection oven, bake for 30 minutes with the lid covered and 15 minutes without the lid.
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{ 107 comments… read them below or add one }

John T November 3, 2012 at 9:30 am

Wow, so simple, teh crust is what I’ve been looking for. Thanks.

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Sherald Friend April 8, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Try breaking the dough down into multiple loaves. I break mine into four min-loaves. More crust is just what I was looking for. Unfortunately, my dutch oven will only accommodate two loaves at a time, but so be it!! I get the enjoyment of all that additional crust. Dunking is for real bread lovers!!!

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Trish December 2, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. I have been baking bread off an on for a couple of years and I have baked very good loaves, but couldn’t master baking very wet (70%+) doughs in my convection oven, even with the closed environment of a Dutch oven. Your single instruction of starting with a cold oven has solved my wet dough challenge. My first post-instruction loaf (the Tartine Baguette recipe from wild year starter and poolish, only 64% hydration but I’ve had issues with it) is singing on my counter as I type, a gorgeous, amber-crusted loaf that sounds as hollow as a cheap pine door.

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Alice Currah December 3, 2012 at 12:03 am

I love that you described the sound as a cheap pine door. Love!!

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Marie M January 7, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Could you divide this amount of dough and bake two small loaves instead of one big one? Would the baking time be the same? Thank you.

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Sherald Friend April 8, 2013 at 6:50 pm

I just posted below a pice concerning smaller loaves. I actually divide the dough into fourths so I get smaller loaves. I love the smaller loaves, as it gives me more crust to munch on. My cast iron dutch oven will only accommodate two at a time, but so be it!!

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Dave February 21, 2014 at 7:21 pm

The question was does the baking time change when you make a smaller loaf?

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Katie February 22, 2014 at 10:26 pm

The first time I made this recipe I followed the exact directions and it came out really well. However, being single, I wasn’t able to eat the entire loaf before it went bad (I know I had options such as freezing, turning into croutons, or toasting but I ended up feeding the ducks).

The second time, I halved the recipe and added 1/8 tsp. of sugar. I also let it rise for around 24 hours (not on purpose). I researched online and it said to keep the baking temp/time the same even if the recipe was halved so I did. This smaller loaf came out much crispier, but there were spots on the bottom where it was slightly burnt. However, that didn’t affect the taste or anything. The inside of the bread was also full of more holes so I don’t know if that was due to the sugar I added or the longer rise.

The third time (today), I made the normal batch but halved the dough and put the other half in the fridge. This time, I used the full amount of ingredients, added 1/4 tsp. of sugar, and let it rise for around 20 hours. Again, I kept the baking temp/time the same and even took it out a few minutes early. Again, the loaf is extra crispy on the outside and spongy and full of holes on the inside. However, the bottom was much more burnt/harder than the last 2 loaves. It still tastes good, but it is a bit more difficult to eat since the bottom is so hard. There’s no burnt taste, but it’s darker than I like.

I’m going to make the refrigerated dough tomorrow evening (and that will be an experiment by itself!) and I might experiment with a shorter baking time at the same temp. Maybe 20 minutes with the lid on, 20 minutes off.

Great recipe though! Tonight I cut a large piece of bread in half, put a bit of butter and garlic powder on it, put some fresh mozzarella on top, and stuck it in the oven to broil. Cheesy garlic bread – just what I’d been craving!

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Lisa January 7, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Can I use active dry yeast instead? I don’t have instant yeast.

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Lisa January 10, 2013 at 10:12 am

Found I had instant yeast (saf-yeast). Two tsp of salt was too much. Only use 1 tsp and it was better. I also made this with gluten free bread. Cut salt down to 1/2 tsp for gluten free or it is like eating a salt lick.

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Lisa January 10, 2013 at 10:14 am

Also, 60 minutes was too long for this bread. I baked it 30 with lid, 15 without and it was still burnt. Last night did it 15 and 15, and it was not burnt, and still had good loaves.

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Sandra January 25, 2013 at 5:45 pm

I have not baked bread for many years. My daughter shared this recipe with me over the holidays and now I bake bread once or even twice a week.i’m hooked and have experimented with different variaitons, whole wheat flour, herbs, raisens are next. I even used my old corning ware dish as well as a cast iron pot. No difference in results, both came out perfect! Keep the hints comimg……..

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Meryl January 30, 2013 at 10:30 pm

I love this recipe and now make it almost daily but although the proportions are a bit forgiving, you actually get quite different results therefore I think it is useful to note quantities by measurement. In Laheys book “My Bread” he gives these as :
Flour 3 cups (400g)
Salt 1+1/2 teaspoons (8g)
Yeast 1/4 tsp (1g)
Cool water 1+1/3 cup (300g)
Like you, I was using 1+1/2 cup water but I actually find this Lahey update of his recipe superior in structure. I sometime add 1/4 cup sourdough starter to the recipe to boost the sour flavour.

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Meryl January 30, 2013 at 10:35 pm

Sorry, that was 1+1/4 tsp salt (8g).

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Meryl January 30, 2013 at 10:32 pm

PS. In his book he also avocates using bread flour. That makes a difference too.

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Kelley February 13, 2013 at 11:04 pm

I made this bread for dinner tonight…HOLY SNAP. It was by far the most delicious bread I have ever made. When my husband saw the golden brown loaf, he said “wow, that looks really pro.” Then we ate the entire thing in one sitting.

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Sherald Friend April 8, 2013 at 6:43 pm

I have been making this awesome bread fro about 8months now for my wife and I. We sometimes do not finish the loaf for health reasons before it goes bad. What I have learned to do, is once I have the finished dough ready for the pot, I cut and seal the dough in 4 equal parts. I now bake 4 small loaves that come out scrumptious, and I never have to throw any away. Besides, I love the crust best anyway!!! Enjoy!! I hope this helps some others out there.

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Dave February 21, 2014 at 8:03 pm

It is helpful, yes, but what would be even more helpful is to tell us if you changed the baking time for these smaller loaves.

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belama May 26, 2013 at 11:30 pm

It sure would be nice not to have to do the second-rise thing. I have been making no knead bread for a few years now and timing the shaping/second rise can be inconvenient. I’m actually a bit skeptical about your short-cut (because the dough does change during th 2nd rise wrapped in a cloth) – - and alatho I have a ton of questions. I guess I should jump in and try it!!!!!!! Thanks for thesuggestion. Wish me luck!!!

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Christine B. May 28, 2013 at 12:36 pm

LOVE. I am in love. I doubled the recipe last night but when I went to bake it this morning, tall husband and son had left for the day and my casserole dishes where still on top of the cabinets where I can’t/won’t reach. (I’ don’t like my step stool) So I faked it with a pasta pot and a crockpot insert (both covered with foil). Everything came out wonderfully. Only change is that I will grease the sides of the insert next time.
Timing was perfect in my oven. I would suggest that the lady who had trouble with the timing (Lisa?) get her oven checked or use an oven thermometer. Our house came with an old oven that lied about the temperature so I used a thermometer until we replaced it.

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Heather June 12, 2013 at 2:49 am

Could you make this with whole wheat flour?

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Alice Currah June 21, 2013 at 1:50 am

Hi, yes! However I use half and half.

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Lynnae July 18, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Can’t you just let the dough rise in the cast iron so you don’t have to transfer it after it’s risen?

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Alice Currah August 7, 2013 at 3:21 am

Hi Lynnae,
Well it’s a bubbling soupy mess, so I suppose you could try it the way you suggested but it won’t be a loaf, maybe more of a flat bread. Not only that, it you could have it sticking to the parchment.

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Jill July 30, 2013 at 1:34 pm

We live on no-knead bread around here. When you make multiple small loaves, do you put them all in the same dutch oven? Do they stay separate, or do you have to break them apart? Thanks in advance.

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Alice Currah August 7, 2013 at 3:23 am

Hi Jill,
I have baked two small loaves in the same pot before. They bake together and do touch, like a 2 ball snowman. You would have to pull them apart. Otherwise you can just bake them in 2 separate pots.

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Preeti September 4, 2013 at 9:34 pm

Hey, thank u sooo much for this recipe and method. I tried it just this morn and we have lovely bread for breakfast. What a wonderful suggestion abt putting the bread inside a cold oven. I did sometimes think abt it but always thought it was a no-no

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Jennifer October 8, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Thanks for the recipe! I just tried it, and the bread looks awesome. I haven’t cut into it yet, but it looks very promising. :) The first recipe I used for no-knead bread says to stab the loaf in several places after removing from the dutch oven, to let steam escape. Do you do that? I did this time, just to be safe…but if it makes no difference, I’d rather skip that step. I also made it into a tighter ball than you say. It looks just like a loaf I used to buy in Berkeley, which makes me very happy.

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Valerie November 14, 2013 at 10:19 am

I have been making Jim Lahey’s bread for years. Totally agree with you about letting it raise on towels. Washed them with clothes and got little cement balls. I now let it raise the second time on cutting board, then scoop up with bench dough scraper. This dough scraper has been a lifesaver for any dough (scones, bisquits, bread, etc.) I use it for the kneeding before the second rise, then to scoop and throw into hot pot.

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Alice Currah November 17, 2013 at 1:49 am

Hi Valerie,
After trying this bread both ways I have to say that I love this method. No second rise and no ruined dish balls. Have you tried this way of making the bread? It was such a revelation to me after making it the original way. Would love to know your thoughts.

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rod February 8, 2014 at 6:50 am

try baking 40 min. covered 10 uncovered

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kivircik April 23, 2014 at 5:44 am

Thank you so much for this recipe. My DH made this this morning, we cooked on 210 fan for 30 minutes then 25 with the lid off. He cooked 2 pods of bread at the same time. Fab.

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kivircik April 23, 2014 at 8:58 am

Just wondering if it will be ok to add couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the dough. ( They say oil will make the bread last longer without going bad.)

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Nana November 8, 2014 at 9:06 am

Thank you so much for this nice recipe.

Reply

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