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Hi, I'm Jaden, a professional recipe developer, food columnist and food photographer specializing in fast, fresh and easy recipes for the home cook. Most of my recipes are modern Asian! About meFast, fresh & easy recipes for the home cook.

Monday, September 10, 2007

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.

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




1,307 Responses to “No Knead Bread: so easy a 4-yr old can make it!”

  1. Nicole — 12/3/11 @ 5:08 pm

    Thanks for this amazing bread recipe! This is definitely my new go-to bread! I didn’t have the covered pot, and when I told my cousin the only reason I wanted it was to make this bread, she bought me one for my birthday, yay! Now my family and I enjoy this loaf at least once a week! Thanks!

  2. richard — 12/8/11 @ 12:04 pm

    Good stuff

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  4. Van Lee — 12/12/11 @ 3:20 pm

    I haven’t tried this recipe yet,but I had a kick looking at the pics. Job well done!

  5. Becca — 12/14/11 @ 5:48 pm

    Wow. I’ve never read such an easy recipe!
    I literally just whipped up 4 loaves. Added some poppy seeds, thyme, and rosemary. Thanks!!

  6. val — 12/15/11 @ 12:16 pm

    This is the perfect bread to make if you are going on the low iodine diet required before an I-131 radioactive scan for thyroid cancer. Just be sure to use non-iodized salt and you are set!

  7. Kate — 12/18/11 @ 2:22 pm

    My husband was born in Europe and for 20+ years has complained about American bread. When we lived in the city getting crusty bread was not an issue, now that we have moved to a very small rural town to retire, 27 miles to the nearest grocery store, bread has been a real problem.
    I started making this recipe a few weeks ago and we haven’t bought a loaf of American “cake” bread since. Thank you for sharing this simple, crusty loaf recipe.
    ps. I keep my floured towel in a ziplock bag in the freezer so I don’t have to keep washing the towel. My black cast iron dutch oven is wiped out and sitting ready for the next loaf.

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  9. Maria Bell — 12/22/11 @ 1:12 pm

    The dough stuck in the towl when I was cooking it. I supposed to cook it in the pot with the towel covered, right? Then uncover, remove it from the towel turn it upside down and cook it uncovered.
    What did I do wrong?

  10. Jessica — 12/22/11 @ 4:20 pm

    i haven’t made this yet, but i cant wait to try! I need to borrow a pot though because i dont have anything big enough. Maria–dump it from the towel into the heated pan. do NOT put the towel in the oven. Bake it with the cover, then take the cover off so the top greats crisp.

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  12. JRock — 12/25/11 @ 1:00 pm

    Maria, you are suppose to dump the dough into the pot without the towel. (see the beginning of step 3) I had trouble with some of the dough sticking to the towel on this step. I will try to flour the towel even more next time. However, the dough washed out with just water. I did that right away. Good luck on your next try.
    :)

  13. JRock — 12/25/11 @ 2:57 pm

    I have made this recipe 3 times and thankfully it is very forgiving on the rising time. My family loves this recipe though my end result comes out flatter like focaccia. I cannot not get the dough into a nice smooth ball like your pictures. I used all purpose flour instead of bread flour, as I have seen many of the same recipe w/this being the only difference. Will using bread flour fix the problem?

  14. sharon — 12/27/11 @ 8:29 pm

    No Maria, remove from towel b4 baking. ;)

  15. Stacey — 12/28/11 @ 11:08 am

    Wonderful bread! I have made it many times. I am visiting my in laws and want to make it for them but they only have regular flour not bread flour. Will the recipe still work? Thanks!!

  16. Bill Baumann — 12/28/11 @ 7:38 pm

    Maybe a 4 yr old can do it but when one attains age 58, obviously other issues enter in!
    I ended up after 24 hours with a runny mess. No way could I make it into a blob to be moved to a floured towel… it was the consistency of shampoo.
    I’m thinking my troubles began when I used 1/4 tsp of Fleischmann’s active dry yeast rather than 1/4 tsp of instant yeast. I’m not sure I even know what “instant” yeast is…
    So, my solution was to incorporate a little more flour (maybe 1/4 cup) along with another heaping 1/4 tsp of active dry yeast. It’s now back in the warm place where, if it’s going to do something, it should now.
    I think there was some yeast-action – there were small bubbles – just not enough.
    We’ll see what happens next!

  17. Dana — 12/29/11 @ 4:21 pm

    Has anyone tried this recipe with whole wheat bread flour, quinoa flour or any other non-refined whole grain flour??

  18. Phytonym — 12/29/11 @ 5:57 pm

    Great recipe, making it for the second time right now. I just put it in the oven.
    Bread was great last time (If a bit overcooked, but that’s not the recipe’s fault.) Despite a few burnt bits on the bottom everyone loved it. (Even my little sister: “It tastes like /real/ bread!”)
    This time the dough was wetter, but I’m hoping that doesn’t make too big a difference.

    The only change I made was to substitute Traditional Active Dry Yeast instead of instant. 1/4 tsp still works, but you need to change the steps a bit. Instead of mixing the ingredients together at once, mix the water (maybe about 105F, slightly warm) and yeast together and let sit for 10 minutes before adding the other ingredients.

  19. Bill Baumann — 12/29/11 @ 7:21 pm

    Well, I ended up with a foccacia-like loaf that was incredibly crunchy and chewy. It had great flavor and the kids managed to make it disappear quickly. They are still asking for a loaf that’s “more like french bread” though.
    So I’m giving it another go.

  20. Bill Baumann — 12/30/11 @ 5:12 pm

    I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. My second attempt ended up with runny dough too. I carefully measured 3 cups flour and 1 1/2 cups water… I’m thinking for my next try I’ll only use one cup of water.. or maybe 1 1/4….
    It’s baking now but I’m sure it will be very similar to the first one: foccacia bread.
    The one major learning I’ve taken from this is that in order to get the nice bubbles in French bread, I need to work with dough that is much wetter than I normally use…. but finding that happy medium of the right “wet” still eludes me.

  21. Ev Waldron — 1/1/12 @ 2:44 pm

    I’m looking to try this out, but I don’t have something like that to bake it in. Could I use 2 loaf pans and not cover them?

  22. Sacha — 1/1/12 @ 5:45 pm

    Tried this yesterday, it was so easy and turned out great! we loved it, so tasty, will make again.

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  24. stephi — 1/2/12 @ 2:11 pm

    mine tasted great except the interior of the bread seems raw -put it back in the oven(after it cooled and we cut it to find the rawish center)for 5 minutes….doing it again. anyone find the baking time for this is too short?

  25. Amy Neal — 1/2/12 @ 6:42 pm

    this is the best loaf I have ever made! My husband and I ate way too much bread when it was finally cool enough to cut. The waiting was torture.
    My husband is a potter who makes functional pieces, and I used a covered casserole dish that he makes. It worked beautifully. I was a little afraid when the parchment paper slipped a bit when I put in the dough, but it did not stick at all to the crock.
    Thanks so much for the easy and enjoyable recipe!

  26. daffymommy — 1/8/12 @ 12:38 am

    Bread flour has more gluten in it like wheat flour, but not as much as wheat flour. It makes the bread more stretchy than all purpose flour and helps hold the bread in shape. Give it a go!

  27. Neha — 1/8/12 @ 9:42 pm

    I have a non-bread baking question ….
    how do i clean the tea towel after baking the bread ?

  28. Janet Macaulay — 1/9/12 @ 9:27 pm

    Oh my goodness! I am in love. I don’t know if I should know how easy this is, because I would weight 300 lbs if this was on regular rotation in my kitchen. Thank you for making this failed bread baker a super star. Now help me pay for the personal trainer to work this bread off! ;D

    p.s. Also, how DOES one clean the tea towel after baking the bread? I am tempted to throw it out, it is such a mess.

  29. robin — 1/10/12 @ 12:29 pm

    not sure if you are serious or not, but if you are, please re-read the directions. you take it out of the towel BEFORE you bake it. It’s the pot that must be covered (for the first 30 min) because you need the 70% humidity to get the steam moving.

    Maybe you should go watch the youtube videos so you see exactly what to do. look up no-knead bread. there are lots of videos to watch.

    good luck!!! it is worth trying again!

  30. Janet Macaulay — 1/10/12 @ 6:10 pm

    LOL! I DID remove the loaf from the towel before I baked it! I was simply referring to the gooey mess that is left in the towel after it has risen a second time. The bread turned out fantastic, thanks.

  31. Emma — 1/10/12 @ 8:12 pm

    Bill, mine vas very runny too – when cooked it resembled foccacia (flat and dense)and was not cooked properly inside, still doughy. My mistake was the yeast – after I’d mixed it all I realised it had expired, so the next day I went and bought more fresh instant dried yeast, added it to the re-warmed the dough and left for another 18 hours, so really my dough sat for 2 days with the two attempts! It bubbled up nicely, but was very runny when I tried to put it in the teatowel – no way I could make a ball shape. It didn’t smell yummy while it was cooking. A disappointment, but wholly my mistake. I will keep trying this until I get it as I really want to make a simple home made bread!

  32. Neha — 1/10/12 @ 10:11 pm

    Hello… thanks so much for this wonderful recipe…and the visual presentation…
    we made this bread last night…and it turned out amazing…

  33. Ramona — 1/10/12 @ 10:22 pm

    I’ve used with wheat flour only, all-purpose flour, and mixed. I’ve added slice garlic stuffed olives and sliced jalepeno olives. I’ve let it rise 8 – 24 hours. I’ve learned to add more yeast…up to 2 tsp. Fresh Rosemary is waiting for the next batch. This is a very forgiving recipe. Even mistakes taste good with butter!

  34. Jenn — 1/10/12 @ 11:52 pm

    Just had to say, the photo of your son giving the bread a goodnight kiss is just so cute!~

    By the way, great recipe…always good with a lot of butter. :D

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  36. Tina — 1/13/12 @ 7:11 pm

    I have 5 minutes left on my first attempt. It smells so good. Is it suppose to smell like sourdough?

  37. Tina — 1/13/12 @ 7:20 pm

    The crust is actually crackling!

  38. rachel méndez-barrios — 1/14/12 @ 5:05 pm

    WOW.

    thank you thank you thank you THANK YOU!!!!!!!

    i have enjoyed your blog for awhile now. my husband and i have been wanting to try making bread forever, and after coming across this recipe, the pictures sold me. we followed your directions to the letter, and it came out FLAWLESS.

    we just made 3 loaves, have decided there is basically no reason to buy bread again.

    seriously. it’s that good.

    we also splurged on the butter, as directed.

    amazing.

    thanks again!! :D

    - rachel & rené

  39. addie — 1/14/12 @ 8:48 pm

    I can’t wait to try the recipe, but I have a question: could I use a loaf pan?

  40. Sandi — 1/15/12 @ 9:40 pm

    I’m sure this is a tasty loaf of bread, but why all the wailing and teeth gnashing about the ‘difficulties’ of kneading and shaping the loaf? That’s the most ridiculous thing I ever heard. I can have half a dozen different breads out of the oven in the 20 hours you wait on this stuff, and that includes all my regular tasks getting done and a good night’s sleep. No, I am not a pro, the only training I’ve every had was 9th grade home ec. If you quit making real, homemade food sound SO HARD, maybe more people would quit eating processed dreck and try real food.

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  44. Damjana — 1/17/12 @ 3:23 pm

    Thanks a lot for the recipe. Yesterday I was looking for a simple recipe for bread and I immediately tried yours. As I don’t have an oven, I baked it in a pan. I miss the crunchy crust yet the structure is still great.

  45. Tracey — 1/18/12 @ 11:38 am

    I have one hour left until my first batch of this will go into the oven. :)

    I just realized “I” made a mistake…. Jaden, I used active “dry” yeast, do you think this make for a flatter bread and have you used the active dry before and did you do anything different when you did? All steps up till now (I have about another hour of the second rise to go) including first raise after 14 hrs. or so, transferring, etc. all look JUST like your pictures! Was just curious about the yeast question.

    I’ve been baking our own sandwhich bread for a long time now and a rustic crunchy artisan bread was lacking, I think this will fit the bill nicely though.!

    I’ll let you know how it turns out using the yeast that I did.

    Thank You for a great recipe!

    Tracey

  46. Tracey — 1/18/12 @ 2:28 pm

    It was wonderful and perfect! My daughter loved listening to the bread “crackle” when it first came out of the oven! lol My hubby said, “this is JUST like the Bread Company bread”! :)

    Thanks again!

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  49. Shannon M — 1/22/12 @ 1:24 pm

    I just made this and it came out perfectly on my first try!!! Even my DH enjoyed it and he very picky. I added dried herbs and it came out full of flavor. By the way, I have a Le Creust Dutch oven as well and I removed the top knob so i didn’t have to worry about it melting. :-) thanks for posting this!!

  50. Jeff F — 1/22/12 @ 9:08 pm

    I make this recipe at least one a week nowadays, always with the picture of the adorable little tatooed dude in my head.
    Try this- instead of butter, try dipping it in extra virgin olive oil (Trader Joe’s garlic oil if there’s one near you) with plain ol’ dried Italian herbs added while the bread is baking. With a little wine and salad….

    Best,
    Jeff

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