No Knead Bread Baking Method

On this page, you will find both the short and long version videos of a basic no knead bread baking technique. See these variations of no knead recipe too.

Before we get started, I wanted to share an email I received from Leanna who says more for the benefits of the no knead method than I could ever convey. She says…

Love This Method

I’ve been baking bread for 40 years and this method has turned my bread baking upside down. I even had kneading down to an art. My dough had to feel just right. My ingredients had to be the best. Now I just throw these four items into a bowl and with no effort on my part, I end up with perfection. I take care of a lady with handicaps and bake it for her too. She has a gas oven and mine at home is electric. I have had no problems with this method. I used to have a sourdough starter but several moves ago, I discarded it. Now with your starter I am back in business. I can hardly wait for my first loaf of NK sourdough bread.

6 min. 40 sec.

12 min. long

Ingredients for basic yeasted No Knead Method:

3 cups bread flour (the above video used 1 cup (5 oz.) whole wheat flour and 2 cups (10 1/2 oz.) white bread flour
1/4 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups purified or spring water

  • Mix together the dry ingredients.
  • Mix in water until the water is incorporated.
  • Cover with plastic and let sit 12-18 hours.
  • Follow video instruction for folding.
  • Cover loosely with plastic and rest for 15 minutes.
  • Transfer to well floured towel or proofing basket. Cover with towel and let rise about 1 1/2 hours.
  • Bake in covered La Cloche or Dutch oven preheated to 500 degrees for 30 minutes.
  • Remove cover; reduce heat to 450 degrees and bake an additional 15 minutes.
  • Let cool completely on rack.
  • Consume bread, be happy.

Note: Regarding the 15 minute rest after the long proofing period; it’s a habit of mine from working with “regular” dough where it helps to have the dough rest after folding in order to relax it so it’s easier to shape for the final rise. With the wet no knead dough recipes, I’ve been skipping it and haven’t noticed any difference in the results.

No Knead Revisited – A Three Year Check Up

The original New York Times no knead bread recipe was published in 2006, about the same time Breadtopia was born. By far the most common difficulty people write or call in about is with the dough being too wet to handle at the end of the long first proofing period and also when it’s time to place the dough into a covered vessel to bake at the end of the second rise.

When you run into this, there’s not a whole lot you can do about it other than attempt to follow through on the instructions and ultimately wrest the dough into your heated baker and into the oven. Your “mistake” may turn out better than you expected and if nothing else, you’ll learn from it. The next time around you can do one or a combination of a couple things differently.

  1. Add more flour and/or use less water than you did the first time. Dough has a way of getting more slack as it sits for many hours so if you start off with the dough being a little stiffer than you think it should be, that’s fine and maybe it’ll be easier to handle later.
  2. Consider reducing the long proofing time by several hours. Don’t get stuck on the idea of 18 hours. Depending on your room temperature and humidity, 18 hours may result in over proofing. When dough proofs too long, the gluten breaks down, the yeast looses some oomph and it can just get downright soupy. Most of the time, I find 12-14 hours to be about right (and sometimes even 9-10 hours during very warm weather). If you want or need to prolong the proofing time, but don’t want to risk over proofing, stick the dough in the fridge for several hours or overnight. That will slow things down a lot. Then resume proofing at room temp until it’s ready to bake.

The same principle holds true on the second rise. While 1-2 hours is the suggested range, I’m almost always at about 60 to 75 minutes.

Another concern we hear a lot is about the dough not rising much during that second short proofing period. I don’t see mine rise much then either and it doesn’t matter so long as you see a good rise during the first several minutes that the dough is in the oven. That’s called oven spring and it’s a very good thing. By keeping your proofing periods on the shorter side, you’re more likely to get good oven spring from the still vigorous yeast or sourdough starter.

Of course all of the above is assuming your yeast or sourdough starter is fresh and viable to start with.

In summary, most problems can be helped or solved by stiffening the dough a little and/or shortening the rising times.

If you’re new to bread baking, don’t think from reading this that it’s difficult or tricky to get great results. Most people find it a breeze and enjoy success right out of the blocks. Others may find it takes a few tries. It’s important to have fun with it and don’t worry about bombing. There’s no significant downside to bread baking but the upside can be fabulous. Enjoy!

This method of baking is quite forgiving if you alter the ingredients and proportions. One of the great things about a bread recipe that is so easy and involves just one loaf at a time is you don’t feel like you’re risking a lot if your experimenting goes awry.

Try using different flours and/or different proportions of flour and play around with the water measurement a little.

We’d would love to hear from anyone with their experiences using this technique, both successful and otherwise. Please share your experiences below.

Note: Here are some great dough handling tips from Breadtopia reader Mark Liptak. Also, check out these no knead baking techniques by Margaret Ball.

{ 1592 comments… read them below or add one }

Lynn March 31, 2014 at 3:05 am

Well, I have made my first starter using this method and my first ‘No Kneed Bread’ and it was a big success. I was afraid to try any bread baking because I do not have the ‘equipment’ and feel that I live in Italy where some of the best bread in the world is made so why try? Glad I did. No need for lots of expensive extras I just used my Italian terracotta tegame as my cloche and it came out beautifully. So note to any who may be a bit timid – go for it, you will be so happy. Thank you Harvey for these videos and posts.

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ptw March 28, 2014 at 8:26 am

8 years I’ve been baking bread – all types, including sourdough with my own starters – and today I attempted this no-knead thingy. Well goodness me; 1st class, and the best bread I’ve made to date. Scrumptious. Thank you from Scotland…

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Susan Ottwell March 16, 2014 at 1:31 am

Just a general note about flours and bread. Bread flour is made from hard (winter) wheat, while pastry or cake flour is made from soft (spring) wheat. All-purpose flour is a blend of the two. The softer the flour, the less liquid it needs; hard bread flour will absorb more water. Whole-grain flour will also absorb more water. This difference in the characteristics of the different types of flour could account for dough that is too wet and sticky. If you are using all-purpose flour, and little or no whole-grain flour, try with 1/4 cup less water for 3-4 cups of flour.

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Eva February 17, 2014 at 9:22 am

I bake mine in the la cloche and get great crumb and taste. The only problem I have is: my crust is perfect when it comes out of the oven but softens up as it is cooling down. How do I keep my crust from softening up? Please help!

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Harvey Cohen February 17, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Put the loaf on the oven rack, prop open the oven door an inch or two, and leave it alone until the oven and bread cool down. Crust will stay crisp for a day or so. Past that, slice and toast, or slice and panini press, or re-warm the loaf in the oven.

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Eva Holmes February 18, 2014 at 10:42 am

Thank you-Harvey! Your timing was perfect as I was just putting a loaf of whole wheat sourdough in the oven. I did try your method and it helped a great deal. The loaf did soften up just a tad but did have crunch to the crust at dinner time. THANK YOU! One more question- I noticed in the blog below you say you bake at 450 instead of 500 for 30 min. I bake at 500 in my la cloche for 30 min and take the lid off for 5 min and bake at 450. Should I bake the whole time at 450?

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Harvey Cohen February 18, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Ovens and recipes vary so much that 450 versus 500 may be just a religious argument. I’m trying to balance crust burning versus center of loaf doneness, and 500 preheat + 450 bake works for me. YMMV.
I’m glad the oven cool-down works for you.

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Fred Melnick February 19, 2014 at 7:39 am

450 or 500 isn’t critical at all, but 5 minutes with the lid off is not nearly enough. I bake my boules in a pot for 30 minutes with the lid on and 20 minutes with the lid off.

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Lisa February 4, 2014 at 5:41 pm

I would like to try the no knead bread in my clay pot instead of the cast iron. The clay pot instructions for bread say to soak the pot (normal for all uses) but then to put the bread in (after it rises) then turn on the oven. The no knead instructions call for putting the dough in a hot pot. So which method should I use? I do not want to break the clay pot.
Thanks!

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Harvey S. Cohen February 4, 2014 at 8:41 pm

I normally bake bread in my La Cloche clay bakers (round and rectangular). I can’t see any reason to soak, and you want the pot at oven temp for oven spring. I proof the loaf in a parchment paper lined brotform, but IMHO any container that matches the shape of the baker would be OK. For no-knead, preheat oven and baker to 500 F for an hour (so the baker is at full temp), then dust the loaf with flour, slash, and transfer it *in the parchment* to the baker. Cover the baker and reduce temp to 450 F. Uncover after about 30 minutes.
Here’s a pic of a kneaded beer rye I made in the rectangular baker at 350 F for one hour. Great oven spring, and super crust.

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Maxina February 4, 2014 at 10:00 pm

Harvey. Interesting addition to this technique. I do my no-knead bread fairly close to the breadtopia technique with my own tweaks. Your idea of using the parchment paper is very cool. I love parchment paper – use it for a ton of other things. So am I correct in understanding that you bake it IN the parchment paper? Does this ease up on the need for flour? I make my dough so wet it’s difficult to handle but that’s what gives me the results I like best. Your idea of parchment could really help if I’m understanding correctly.

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Fred February 4, 2014 at 10:11 pm

I put two strips of parchment paper, each about 4 inches wide, crossways in the bowl where I will be proofing the dough. I place the dough in the bowl on top of the parchment paper and when it is time to put it in the oven, I lift the dough by holding the ends of the parchment paper and place it, paper and all into the baking dish, pot, or whatever I am using. Parchment paper has a tendency to curl up, so I gently crumple it and then it lays flat when I lay it in the bowl.

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Maxina February 4, 2014 at 11:32 pm

That won’t work for me. My proofed dough is too floppy for that; not with gaps…. I’ve got it where I get great bubbles, but its got to be well hydrated…. But thank you.

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Shabnam Akram February 5, 2014 at 5:44 am

I use parchment paper to line… It really helps as the bread just slides out, no need for spraying and /or dusting. The other advantage(for some totally unknown reason) is that I get an even and prettier crust colour.

Harvey S. Cohen February 5, 2014 at 8:32 am

Maxina, I just use enough parchment paper to completely support the dough and give me a few inches to grip. A single sheet of 15-inch-width paper usually works fine. When I put the dough in the baker, I bend the top edges of the paper outward so that the cover traps it and keeps in off the top of the dough. I don’t flour or grease the paper or the baker, but I may flour the dough for shaping more than you do. YMMV.

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Sue Clamp February 5, 2014 at 12:50 am

I use a clay pot (Roemertopf). At first I used to saok the pot but then tried it dry. It made little difference to the result so now I use it dry. As stated, it needs to be very hot before you put the dough in. I always use baking parchment to line it, which also acts as a means of lowering the dough into the pot without burning me!

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Lisa February 6, 2014 at 9:55 am

Thanks Everyone! This is very helpful. I had planned on using parchment paper. I have used parchment to get flat bread to my baking steel at 500 deg. The bread bakes just fine on the parchment.

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Pat January 21, 2014 at 4:52 pm

I have used both this method as well as the traditional method. I’ve been baking bread now for about 4 years. I used to use just a rounded loaf on a silpat sheet on a baking sheet popped onto a pizza stone. I recently got tired of loaves spread out too flat and purchased a rounded aluminum pan with teflon interior and enamel exterior. (Imusa) The loaves were perfect and the pans released great (I did spray with a cooking spray inside), NO burnt crusts. I bake at 400 degrees for 10 min and then reduce to 375 degrees for the last 30 to 35 min. I bake by temperature to 210 degrees interior temp. I love making San Francisco Sourdough with fresh Rosemary inside and coarse salt on the exterior.

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freddc1 January 21, 2014 at 8:23 pm

rosemary is a nice flavor. i bake much higher at 475 both covered and uncovered. i’ll get sticking, so i use sprayed parchment liner on the cooking container. i make a wet loaf plus some sugars such as barley syrup or dried fruit. i don’t want the surface covered in flour or grains, etc to serve as the release agent.. the parchment works well but is a chore. i saw the pots you refer but am looking for smaller, eg. think giant baked potato size!!

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Freddc1 January 19, 2014 at 12:56 pm

i have been using the lacloches (round and loaf) and tend to make large breads with some fruit and nuts, or onion and chive, etc. i can fit 2 or 3 in the oven but now looking for vessels to make smaller loaves, say half pound or so and perhaps 4 or 5 mini-breads. I’m wondering how others are handling this, and, how are you covering them, i.e., individually or with some type of large dome device like inverted ss salad bowl, etc. any suggestion would be appreciated. thank you

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David January 19, 2014 at 5:21 pm

I use a pizza stone, and prefer it over a do…………….but then, I dom’t do no knead anymore as I would rather do it the old fashion way since I do biga’s etc………….

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Loan January 13, 2014 at 12:45 am

I love this easy and tasty bread. For garlic bread, I add a head of garlic, toss with olive oil and Italian seasoning and zap this in the microwave for one minute, then spinkle this mixture just before folding.

I use a kitchen scale and tare/zero out the dry ingredients and pour 12 oz. of water. It seems simpler than measuring 1.5 cups of water.

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Ellen January 2, 2014 at 7:01 am

Lauren you can bake this in a variety of vessels as long as they have a lid. I have used corning-ware, clay pot(Römer-topf), glass-ware, cast-iron pot even stainless steel frying pan with lid. All different size and shapes producing from oblong to square and high to round and flatter bread. The crust varies a little in denseness but the taste of the bread remains fabulous. I have decr the oven temp to 450F or 200c as esp with the cast iron the crust often burnt a bit on the bottom and also became too shatteringly hard. I find the bread is great for 2-3 days, excellent toasted. Great for croutons or in a bread soup or panzanella salad. Have a double recipe proofing right now!

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Sally December 27, 2013 at 1:16 pm

I have made this recipe several times, and the bottom of my bread ends up tough and overdone, any suggestions? I have used my Grandmother’s, Eternity Ware Hammered Aluminum Dutch Oven.

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David December 28, 2013 at 9:02 am

One, make sure that you do not overcook it. If using sourdough starter, the internal temp needs to be no higher than 190, yeast between 200-205. Second, don’t put the dutch oven on a lower shelf or heat it up prior to putting in the dough. Thirdly, and I do this with this recipe as well as others, cook it on a cookie sheet that is not heated and add a heated pan with ice cubes in it at the beginning to generate steam, which will allow the crust to be softer, maybe not the bottom so much. Personally, I’ve given up cooking in a DO all the time, and now use a pizza stone more with or without the steam, depending on how I want the crust.

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Joy February 25, 2014 at 7:42 pm

I put a baking tray/sheet under the the Dutch oven to stop the bottom burning and it works for me.

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Susan December 17, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Have a 3qt. cast iron pot with lid, 4 1/4″ tall, 8″ across at the top. Will a 1/2 recipe of no-knead dough work in this pot? Do I need to alter the cook time or temp?

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David December 17, 2013 at 7:28 pm

I would think so. You might have to cook a tad less so I would check the internal temp five minutes or so before the suggested time, which is close for me in a cast iron dutch, but depending on where I place it, it might cook the bottom crust too much………you might have to try a few times to get what is right for your DO and oven………..no matter, I’m sure it will be good…

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Susan Finlay December 5, 2013 at 11:22 am

I’ve enjoyed this no knead bread making to no end and my husband and I buy next to no bread now. I use 2 cups of spelt and 1 cup unbleached white flour. It’s nice and brown and slightly nutty tasting:) Sue.

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Aeesha December 5, 2013 at 10:00 am

Well done

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Matoca December 1, 2013 at 5:04 pm

In case you are having trouble with getting the correct temperature for the 12-18 hr rising, here is what has worked for years for me.

Bring water to a boil in two glass corning pots. Place inside the oven in the back. Place a regular room thermometer inside. Turn your oven light on. Place the bowl with dough covered with plastic wrap inside.

It will maintain a steady 70-72 degrees for at least 12 hours. No peaking, just set the therm near the window where you can see it. If it does drop, just pull out one pot and heat it up.

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David November 12, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Seems I can only do one at a time so here.s the final product. I might also add that you mentioned that one could use corning ware to cook in if one did not have a dutch over. The company says not to go that high, especially with the newer stuff…

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David November 12, 2013 at 7:33 pm

I did this no knead for the first time today. First off, I used sourdough starter and left it in the fridge for about 21 hours before removing to a warmer spot. After about 10 hours it was fully risen, but due to circumstances I could not bake it then, so I put it back into the fridge to retard. Took it out the following morning before going to the gym so that it would be back at room temp to proof.

It had stayed at the same general area of level where it had risen after the night in the fridge and rose a bit more at room temp. So the whole process started on a Sat. and ended on Tuesday. My goal was to get more flavor into the bread. It was a bit on the soupy side but I managed to proof it and then into my iron dutch oven at 500 degree’s for 30 and then without top for 15, dropping down to 450. It came out looking really great and had a nice oven spring,…..wife felt she was back in France…..though I’m not sure she ever saw a loaf like this when we visited France this past summer.

Taste wise, it was good, but not as good as I had hoped. Years ago, I used to bake plain old white flour bread in a tin, and it smelled so good and tasted so good when hot and buttered. This loaf did not have that great smell. However, it was good. In fact, I buttered some and then toasted in the counter top over and ate it with a nice plate of Bolognese and it was even better.

One technical problem I found was that the crust separated from the loaf in a few places and had some nice open holes throughout the bread. I remember reading that if the crust separates from the loaf than one needs to knead the bread for a bit before the second rise.so I will give that a try next time..

I will try to upload a few pictures in the oven at the 30 minute mark, the end, and one after cutting.

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Gary (the other one) November 11, 2013 at 4:16 pm

There is a tall, covered loaf pan…. pain de mie, or pullman loaf pan. The Pullman loaf pan is constructed of commercial, heavy weight aluminized steel with a sliding cover. Not sure if it right for this type of baking, though… Anyone ever try…?

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Julie November 11, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Can this method be used to make a “loaf” of bread? If so, how would it be baked?

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Chris November 11, 2013 at 4:00 pm

I think “loafing” it would be difficult, as it’s the thermal mass of heavy-duty cast iron or dense crockery that makes this work so well. But if there’s such a thing as a covered, cast iron loaf pan out there it might work.

You might be able to shape the raw dough into a loaf-like shape before putting it in an iron crockery pot but that could be difficult. Good luck!

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Lauren November 6, 2013 at 11:25 pm

I don’t have a cast iron dutch oven or a la cloche, but I have a stoneware pot. Would that work?

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David November 12, 2013 at 7:42 pm

I saw a utube of this and he just put it on a cookie sheet and cooked it…..looked fine.

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