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.

{ 1639 comments… read them below or add one }

rob430 March 2, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Hi All,

Marsha, I actually do one of 2 things with dough/bread and both work. I learned that you can refrigerate the dough so I make a double batch, bake a loaf of bread and put the other half in the fridge to use within a few days. That would be doubling the recipe with 6 cups of flour. The other is I bake a large loaf, 4 cups of flour, and bake a loaf. The same day I freeze half the loaf for another time. I make a variety of breads as the boule, ciabatta, baguette, sandwich bread so I have to do this. I purchased a small freezer to accommodate this and my trips to Costco……lol.

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Greg Schultz March 2, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Marsha (and others)
You may want to look into Peter Reinhart’s new book “Artisan Breads Every Day”. It deals primarily with strategies for delaying the rise through refrigeration and making batches containing several days-worth of dough so you can just pull a chunk out and bake it with no further ado. Traditional recipes, just a different way of managing them.

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Marsha March 2, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Hi, I love making the no-knead steel cut oats recipe from this website. I make it often using a 5 qt lodge cast iron pot, works fantastic every time. My only issue with this is that it makes about twice as much bread as me and my husband can consume before it gets too hard & dry. I would like to try to make the recipe, and split it into half, so that I can cook it in 2 seperate loaves. Any ideas of what to use as a pot, how to adjust cooking time, and also whether I can just punch down the second half in my refridgerator and use it a day or two later? Any advice or thoughts on this would be appreciated!
Thanks!

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Breadtopia March 2, 2010 at 6:05 am

Additionally, look to good oven spring to blast your bread into full bloom, producing the wide open cracks you want. Oven spring is what it sounds like – the doughs rapid rise during the first few minutes after it hits the hot baking surface and before the yeast dies and the bread takes its final shape.

Assuming your yeast (or starter) is viable and robust, you’ll get good oven spring if you bake your bread before it’s reached its full rise outside the oven. In other words, don’t necessarily wait for your dough to double before baking. (Quite often your dough won’t double anyway no matter how much time you give it). “Err” on baking it on the early side while the dough is still on the rise and not peaked out. Let the oven do the last part of the lifting. Like everything, getting the timing right gets easier with practice.

Everyone’s experience seems to differ on this, but I typically go about an hour to an hour and a 15 minutes (if the room is very cool) max on the final rise before baking. And I rarely go much more than 12-14 hours on the first rise. I want my yeast to have plenty of oomph left for the oven spring. It’s all about oomph.

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WoundedEgo March 2, 2010 at 5:18 am

Many people score their bread, however I get a nicely cracked top without scoring. I’m wondering if it is because of the folds I do before the second rise, creating taut strands of gluten. I fold it as recommended by Fahey. You stretch the dough, then fold one third over the center, then the far side over the center, then, stretch the other way and fold in half.

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George Nolta March 1, 2010 at 10:33 pm

I’m no expert, but I think the answer to getting a cracked top is to score the top of the loaf with a razor blade right before you bake it. Take that as tentative advice until you hear something authoritative from a real baker.

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Sissyll March 1, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Having made only 2 NKB loaves, and feeling that I am following the video recipe, I need help with getting a good cracked top. I do get good crunch top and bottom using a La Cloche, but no natural cracks. Can someone advise me where in the process I might be faultering?

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Barbara February 28, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Meant to say I had to try Eric’s version of the Seeded Sour.

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Barbara February 28, 2010 at 6:51 pm

Being a big fan of Nancy Silverton’s bread, I had to try Eric’s no knead version. It’s fabulous! Did the first one with instant yeast, but will also try it with sourdough starter. Curious, though: the amount of seeds for the topping seems way too much. A lot fell off and i’m saving them for other uses! Thanks, Eric.

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Rob February 28, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Thanks Wil for your comment. This is the basic “no knead” recipe replacing 1/2 cup water with 1/2 cup plain pumpkin puree, and adding a pinch of pumpkin spice to the dry ingredients. I added pumpkin and sunflower seeds also. The final proofing was done in a proofing basket purchased from here. I baked it in my cast iron pot. The crumb turned out real nice.

[img]1_PumpkinBread.JPG[/img]

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Wil February 28, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Rob, that is one of the most appealing pictures of a bead I’ve seen on here! Makes you want to have a slice. Is that recipe on here or is it yours?
Wil

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Rob February 28, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Wil, you are correct. By letting it relax, it does what you said, otherwise the dough cannot be stretched or formed.

Ever make pizza and want to stretch the dough out, but it keeps resisting. Just let it rest a while and it should be fine. This is an example.

I’ve included a pic of my pumpkin bread.

[img]PumpkinBread.JPG[/img]

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Wil February 28, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Hi George,
I’ll take a stab at it but it is only a guess. Maybe someone else will know for sure. Anyhow, when you remove the dough from your 12 hr proof bowl on to your counter or board, then spreading it and then folding it, this is quite trumatic for the dough’s gluten matrix. When you let it rest for 15 minutes, the gluten gets a chance to relax. The next thing you are going to do is disturb the dough some more by picking it up and shaping it to put in the proofing basket. Being rested, the gluten should not fight back against the rise you want to achive while it is in the proofing basket. Have you ever tried to roll out dough and it will not stay rolled, but it keeps wanting to go back to the original shape? Then you go back about 10 minutes or so and it will roll out and stay there? It is the same thing. That is what I think the reason may be. Again, Eric might have to come on and save me.

When you let dough rest, the gluten has a chance to relax. If you then put that rested dough in the oven, the gluten won’t fight back against the oven spring, so you should get better spring

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George Nolta February 28, 2010 at 1:33 pm

After the dough has proofed for 12-18 hours, what’s the purpose of “letting it rest” for 15 minutes before putting it in the proofing bowl for 1.5 or 2 hours? I don’t understand what the 15 minute rest and the 2-hour final proofing is doing. Nothing is being added to the dough, so what is changing?

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Andy February 26, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Thanks! To be clear, I had the dough out fermenting for 26 hours. My schedule for my day changed. I put the dough into the fridge when I got home last night. I plan on letting it short proof as you said in your reply and bake it tonight. Thanks for the tips! I love the no knead bread!

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Wil February 26, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Hi Andy,
I am not sure you are saying you proofed your dough for 24hrs then put it in the refrigerator or it has been in the refrigerator for some hours for a total of 24. Many of us have kept dough in the frige for days then take it out and bake after a short proof. I would suggest taking it out and doing a short proof of 40 mins to 1 hour and bake your bread. It should be OK. Wil

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Andy February 26, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Need some assistance. I was unable to bake the bread after a 24 proof period. I put the dough in the fridge last night. Any chance of bringing it out and letting it proof for the two hours and baking it off?

Thanks!

Andy

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Joan February 25, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Tara–I have well water and have exactly the same results if I don’t use bottled water.

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WoundedEgo February 25, 2010 at 5:12 pm

I always use bread flour, even though I’ve heard that you can use all purpose flour.

Note that if you have any residue of bleach whatsoever, it will kill the yeast. I suggest using filtered water, or non-chlorinated water.

Also, salt retards yeast activity while sugar stimulates it.

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Lara February 25, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Tara-
Lets go through this systemically. Start with the yeast. Rather than adding it to the flour, mix it with luke-warm water and let it sit for 5 minutes. Do you see bubbles forming? If not, your yeast is dead… buy a different brand or from a different store. Next, what temperature did you keep you dough? It should be at a comfortable room temp – 73ish degrees. I often keep a heat-lamp next to my dough during the winter. Finally, did you use a scale to weigh your flour? If your dough was super sticky, you might not have added enough flour. Weighing your ingredients leads to more accurate results. Good luck! You’ll get it I promise!! And yes, it will be worth the effort :)

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rob430 February 25, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Hi Tara, I’ve been making this bread for over a year with great results per the basic instructions. I proof 18 hours and final 2 hrs. After the initial 18 hrs, I remove the sticky glob and do the stretch and fold technique incorporating more flour before shaping. Something is wrong if it didn’t proof either time.

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Tara February 25, 2010 at 11:18 am

Help! I tried to bake my first bread loaf ever with Lahey’s method, which I followed exactly except for the following: I let the bread proof for about 22 hours instead of 18, I had trouble folding the dough due to the stickiness- it was kind of a mess. The second proofing was an hour and a half. Although I had used brand new yeast (and all purpose flour) the bread never rose at all during either proofing. I baked it in a pre-heated all-clad pot with a lid and the result was a small-hard hockey puck. Is there an obvious mistake I made or am I just cursed?

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Breadtopia February 25, 2010 at 11:27 am

Hi Tara,

The 22 hour proof is a huge “except”. Even 18 hours is often too long. Go with 12-14 hours on the first rise and an hour or a little more on the second rise and that alone should help a lot.

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gyongyi February 22, 2010 at 11:33 pm

Lara, you might consider re-seasoning your dutch oven after the clean-up.

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WoundedEgo February 22, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Try soaking the dutch oven in a vinegar solution. I’ve been able to restore a pretty grungy pot to a new-ish state via the acid in vinegar.

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Lara February 22, 2010 at 9:44 pm

towards the bottom, and i see what you’re getting at! thank you – that should certainly resolve my burning problem – ill be sure to put the shelf as high as possible next time, since the heat comes from the bottom. thank you… i cant wait to keep making this wonderful bread! my fiance is extremely impressed – except that he has been scrubbing for a while to clean up my big mess :)

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WoundedEgo February 22, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Re: the burning

Which shelf should the bread/dutch oven be place on? Top? Middle? Bottom?

[img]WoundedEgo100.gif[/img]

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Lara February 22, 2010 at 9:06 pm

I just made this recipe for the first time… with disastrous results! The bread burned horribly to the bottom of my dutch oven. Even when I transferred it out onto a cookie sheet after half an hour, the new bottom surface burned again. Also, my dutch oven is now covered in black stuff on the outside (I guess I need to clean my oven? How do I get this off?) However, the resulting bread is the BEST i’ve ever made… it is quite spectacular! Please help me overcome the burning issue!

[img]bread.jpg[/img]

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Ruth February 21, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Wow!! This technique really works. My family loves the bread. I use a cast iron deeper fryer and cast iron lid. The whole wheat adds great taste.

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ivy axenty February 20, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Hello,
I was just wondering what you prefer using when baking bread, the La Cloche or the clay baking dish.
Thanks, Ivy Axenty, Blackfoot, ID

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Rob February 18, 2010 at 10:48 am

I remove the dough from the first rise bowl so I can stretch & fold better and to form it either in a boule or batard shape. Secondly, I second proof it in floured flour sack towels as this is the way the Italians do it for a crunchier crust , an Old World process. With a high hydratoin dough, I use plenty of flour or wheat bran and never had a problem sticking.

The original no knead recipe also has it going into a floured towel. Then I take the formed dough in the towel and lay it in a round or long basket for second proofing. I found in some cases, eliminating a step in baking is not good.

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Joe February 18, 2010 at 6:39 am

gary,
i have thought of using the same bowl for the second rise. what always stopped me was i thought the dough would stick to the bowl.

did you have that problem?

joe

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Gary February 17, 2010 at 10:31 pm

Today I made my 5th loaf of NKB. All but one have come out fantastic. The only dud was when I used a different yeast that I had in the pantry. Today though I used a slightly different method that makes the process even easier than it already is. After the first 18 hour rise, instead of taking the dough out of the stainless steel bowl and sprinkling it with flour and folding it several times before the second rise, I just used a spatula and turned the dough over in the bowl several times, making sure I scraped the sides. I let the dough rise for an hour and then dumped into the Pyrex bowl with pie plate lid to cook. And the finished bread was exactly the same great loaf I always get. And no counter, cutting board, and wax paper to clean up.

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Iara Bachmann February 14, 2010 at 11:45 am

This is the best bread recipe I ever try!! I have been doing bread for almost a year! I know is not much. I do produce my own starter and try different methods to improve my loafs. This recipe is really the closest to European bread.
I do use the Cast iron dutch oven, I haven’t try to baked it with a clay one. Reading the comment above I do have a hard crust at the bottom as well. Could it be the salt content? I know this contributes to the crust formation. has any one try to reduce the salt?
I do adjust the recipe to 3/4 so it fits in the small 5quart dutch oven, and has space to grow. here is the proportions I make:
9-1/2 ounce bread flour (King’s Arthur)
3/16 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/8 tsp. salt (I use sea salt)
1 1/8 cups purified water

[img]P1070158.JPG[/img][img]P1070153.JPG[/img]

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Barbara February 11, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Fred, here’s a link for a terrific recipe for no knead, in small loaf form. this recipe is my favorite for the basic white no knead.
http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/2007/01/baby_breada_great_new_techniqu.html

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Fred Atkins February 11, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Has anyone ever tried separating the dough into 2 smaller loaves, or even into dinner rolls? I would imagine you’d want to reduce cooking time.

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Rob February 1, 2010 at 6:25 pm

Hi, I’ve been using the no knead method for over a year with great success. I use either a cast iron pot or the la cloche. My question is with the Romertopf Clay Bread Pan, I can’t proof a sandwich loaf in that and put it in a 450deg oven, because of temp shock, correct? Normally with metal bread pans you would proof and bake in the same pan. So with the Romertopf Clay Bread Pan, how would you use it to bake a no knead sandwich loaf?

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Barbara January 31, 2010 at 12:51 pm

about crust being too hard… a friend of mine felt his bottom crust was too hard. here’s what he’s done to soften it a bit. He “left the lid on @500 for 10-15mins, then backed the oven down to 400 for 15-20mins then took the lid off for 10. I think this made for a lighter crust. The bottom crust can get a bit too thick for me and I think it is the high temp in the dutch oven that does that.”

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Gina January 31, 2010 at 12:46 pm

I’ll be following this thread because I’ve been having problems with thick, hard crusts lately too.

Gina

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Laura January 31, 2010 at 11:53 am

Hi, just made my first loaf of No Knead Bread and it seems to have turned out really well except the crust is really really hard, should i reduce the baking time and take it out when the crust is a bit lighter? The bread inside is wonderful, but I had hoped be able to slice it a bit more easily. Any suggestions??

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Jim Roe January 27, 2010 at 10:52 pm

I came across this tip and tried it. It works!

” Leonard and private chef Paige Vandegrift, who also teaches classes at the Merc, are happy to share their top tips for home bakers.

Wash your hands in water. Leonard explains that rather than adding more flour to prevent the dough from sticking while kneading, keep a bowl of water handy and get your fingers wet while working the dough.”

If the dough begins to stick, wet you hands again and shake off the excess water.

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Jim Roe January 27, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Gean:

The first video on Breadtopia’s home page explains it all

First, you have to have a clean “canvas” to work on. Drawing up the sides of the dough ball and pinching it stretces the underside to a relatively smooth unblemished surface. The pinched side goes in the pot first.

At the start of the two hour resting with the smooth side up on the patchment paper, sprinkle some flour on it and oil spray the top, locking the flour in place.

Just before dropping it in the pan oil a sharp knife and make a few decorative cuts about 1/4″ deep. During baking the rising bread will stretch apart the cut.

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Jean January 27, 2010 at 5:14 pm

I am new at bread baking and just love the no knead method. I would now like to have a fancier top to my loaves. What is the secret?

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Hans January 27, 2010 at 9:04 am

Gina, Thanks for your comment. I certainly will try that. I can see that I will have to adjust the temperature somewhat.

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Gina January 27, 2010 at 6:05 am

Hans, I used to have this problem and found that if I check the inside temperature with a thermometer and it hasn’t reached 210 degrees, it’s not cooked enough inside. I use a little chef’s thermometer and insert it as far as the center of the loaf. I’ve had to adjust my temperature and cooking time but now I longer get raw bread.

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Hans January 25, 2010 at 11:31 am

I recently ran into a snag making my variation on a multigrain knb. I used 10 oz ap flour, 1.5 oz rye, 1.5 oz dark spelt, 3oz flaxseed and oats ground up, 12 0z water, 1/4 tsp yeast, 1.5 tsp salt. I go thru all the steps, put it in a preheated 475 degree oven, covered clay pot, let it bake for 1/2 hour, take cover off and let it bake for another 15 min or until the temp is at least 200 degree. Turn oven off, let bread sit in oven for another 15 min after I remove it. But it is still kind of sticky inside. Sticks a little to my palate when I eat it. Very puzzled.

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Ruth Hurst January 20, 2010 at 11:16 am

After making a ton of the lovely NK SD loaves I decided to try this yeast version. I bravely doubled it and they turned out to be my best breads EVER in my yeasted high hydration dutch oven line up!

The crust was thin & chewy, color was perfect. The crumb was soft, a little chewy and was open just enough to look fabulous and make the best toast & sandwiches.

This is a new go to recipe.

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Julie Holcomb January 15, 2010 at 7:09 pm

I’d like to recommend the Chantal Make & Take 3 1/2 covered round casserole for making no-knead bread. It’s perfect for proofing the dough, and also for baking it. The glazed clay casserole has a lid that has a silicone gasket, so it makes a tight seal, and you don’t have to use plastic wrap. The gasket is dishwasher safe and oven safe, but only up to 425°, so I use the lid without the gasket for the baking. The shape of the dish is perfect -round, flat on the bottom, with pretty straight sides – a lot like a dutch oven. It works great. I like it better than my dutch oven for baking the bread, and it’s certainly lighter. I love not using plastic wrap. And I love having one item with multiple uses.

I wish Chantal would make a deep rectangular dish like this for marinating. The have an 8″ x 8″ baker that’s a little too small and shallow for marinating. The round casserole will work for many things , but not everything.

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ray January 9, 2010 at 3:25 pm

JIM,many thanks for the web page
thanks ray

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Jim Roe January 8, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Ray:

I came across the detailed method of baking the bread mentioned in my January 5, 2010 note:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102124561

It is a copy of the recipe in her Kneadlessly Simple book. Her web site is also an interesting read.

I use a 10 hour first rise, 18 hours for the second rise(with the optional stirring), and 2 hours for the final rise. With the lid off I use a continuous read-out thermometer turning the oven off at 210F. I go for an extra 10 minutes before removing the pot just to ensure it is fully baked.

I am not a fan of a hard crust or large holes in the crumb so these are not a consideration for me. I would call the browing of the bread medium brown.

I had one miserable failure in about 10 tries. I do not know what I did wrong. . .

Once I have a fool-proof procedure I will individually experiment with the use of additives such as powdered milk, gluten, Vitamin C, and Vitamin A. All this is absolutely unnecessary but it is fun to experiment.

Both Lahey’s and Cook’s methods taste great but Baggett’s tastes better to me. The no mess feature is just a bonus. I would go for the mess if it meant better taste.

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JIm Roe January 5, 2010 at 11:52 pm

Ray:
The actual recipe is copyrighed. Any complete recipe of hers on the net always notes that it is published with her permission. I never asked permission and I respect the copyright.

My brief, and very incomplete, explaination was meant to illustrate an impressive mess free NKB method and not to provide the recipe and procedure.

I suggest you visit a library or purchase the book.

[img]NoMessNoKneadBread003.jpg[/img][img]1_NoMessNoKneadBread003.jpg[/img]

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