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.

{ 1631 comments… read them below or add one }

Ivana Berger September 28, 2010 at 4:32 am

I am currently taking up a training program and it’s killing me! I love your website and how you make all this bread :D.
I am not allowed to eat much bread at the moment because of my diet. But wow your amazing.

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Richard September 27, 2010 at 10:42 am

Hi Eric -
I am baking one-and-a-half pound loaves in the long sassafras baker. I make straight Sourdough loaves and some of the variations from the site. I follow the recipe but generally with shorter times for the long rise, maybe 10 hours. I do the final rise in the bottom of the baker, while the top heats up with the oven. They come out with good taste and texture, and with what I think is a good crust.

But… despite using a lame to make three diagonal cuts, the loaves quite often also split along the sides and don’t look so good. This is quite extreme when I use some wholewheat spelt flour in the dough. Is there something I should – or shouldn’t – be doing?

Richard

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Fred C September 27, 2010 at 9:00 am

to hedge my bet, i did one bread instead of two and used the narrow cloche. even though i think its seasoned, i still had terrible sticking on the bottom which caused a long strip sticking on the bottom. the sides i was able to loosen without damage but didnt have a tool for the bottom. finally used a silicone spatula underneath to wedge it free but that loaf didnt win any beauty contests . Next night went back to parchmet pper with a little pam on it and worked out fine. maybe because im using a wetter dough, i’m open to suggestions.? thank you.

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Maria September 20, 2010 at 10:36 am

@FredC: I’ve never had a problem with the dough sticking to the cloche, and I have not ever used parchment paper. See my post from April 22, 2010 RE: some dough-handling techniques: http://www.breadtopia.com/2008/09/16/its-bread-baking-season/. Others have also posted their tips for handling the dough, although most of the photo links demonstrating results have been removed.

@Nan Walther: We live at 8,200 feet, also in Colorado. When using the indoor oven (propane) I generally boost the temperature about 25 degrees F, and keep the baking times the same. I have used a sundry of suitable baking dishes – enameled cast iron, stoneware, Pyrex, etc. Lately, in the oven, I have been using the loaf-shaped unglazed clay cloche found on this website with very good results. I also have been getting good results with a locally-produced wheat flour with a high gluten content that is grown and milled in Questa, New Mexico. In the summer, I generally plop the dough “free from” on my propane grill, using a baking stone with a heat deflector, and a stainless steel mixing bowl as the “lid” with great results. Beats heating the kitchen up in the summer. Those results are also posted here somewhere on this website. Good luck!

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Freddc September 17, 2010 at 8:06 am

hi
lately i’m having terrible sticking problem with the parchment paper. Ive been using it to carry to final dough to set into the hot cloche. The paper is just fused to the bottom of the bread. I’ve tried different brands and same results. Never had that problem when i used the large enameled cast iron pots. last night i even sprinkled some cornmeal on the paper but still stuck. i was able to scrape of bottom of finished bread but was a real pain.
i’m only using it because im afraid bread might stick to the hot cloche and i wont be able to get it out. i had that happen a few times with the cast iron pots without parchment paper and whole bottom stuck to pot.
are people just dumping the dough on the hot cloche and its not sticking or something else. Comments suggestions appreciated. thanks. fred

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Nan Walther September 16, 2010 at 4:18 pm

We live in Colorado at 8,000 ft above sea level — should we make any adjustments in ingredients, temperature or baking time? Thanks!!

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cris September 13, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Hi. I’m a beginner at baking, especially breads. Can the original recipe be used to bake the bread in mini loaf pans? Will the baking time need to be reduced?

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Breadtopia September 13, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Hi Cris,

Yes and yes. I can’t recall how much I reduced the time last time I made mini loaves, but I’d check to see how they’re coming along after about 25 – 30 minutes.

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Fred C September 13, 2010 at 10:16 am

hi eric
thanks for quick response. i actuall bought the lineres from breadtopia but havent used them yet (duh!!!). i do like final product with the wetter dough produces so thats good advice and I appreciate it.

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Breadtopia September 13, 2010 at 9:46 am

Hi Fred,

For sticking, you might try rice flour or a combination of rice flour and regular flour. If you’re dough is so wet that it sticks to the basket even with a generous sprinkling of flour, then you really need to go with a cloth liner. If you use a liner and work a good bit of flour (rice is best) into the fabric, even the wettest doughs won’t stick. And with subsequent uses, only a small amount of additional flour is required.

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Fred C September 13, 2010 at 9:06 am

thiss weekend i split the wheat portion 50:50 with rye flour keeping the bread flour the same. also added 4 onces of raisins plus extra tablespoons of water. at the end of the rise i folded it a few times in the same rising bowl with hand hands then put into the baskes for final rise. im still having a problem with sticking when i invert the basket even though there’s a good coating of cornmeal. my round loaves are flatter than video but i assume that because my dough is wetter? sticking at bottom basket (top of bread) is still bugging me big time!!

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Gary form Wisconsin September 11, 2010 at 6:44 pm

New York magazine has a recipe in this week’s issue “Where to Eat” section called “Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Pizza Margherita”. I have the dough rising in the microwave oven now and will attempt to make the pizza tommorow during the Packers game.

Has anyone tried this before?

http://nymag.com/restaurants/cheapeats/2009/57899/

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Sal September 11, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Santa Maria,

I usually leave the cover on for the entire time…mine seems to brown beautifully. Try it both ways. All oven are different and that could account for the differences.

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Santa Maria September 10, 2010 at 11:55 am

Sal,

when you place it in the over for 70 minutes, are you removing lid for last 15 of that? Are most bakers using 1 1/2 cups of water or 1 1/3. I use the lesser amount and it’s much easier to work with. I bought Jim Lahey’s cookbook and that’s what he uses in his recipes now.

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Sal September 9, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Hi Fred C no problem with the “oven Spring” NK bread is a wet dough, and the Dutch oven capturesz this moisture and provides the “oven spring”. My finished loaves measure approx. 6 inches high at center.

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FredC September 9, 2010 at 7:45 am

hi sal
while i’ve had good results with the covered dutch oven and cold oven, i’ve never had the bread give me a good rise in the center. while it domes initially seems to settle down for a relatively flat top. have you been getting a nice round top with your method? thanks

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Sal September 8, 2010 at 3:17 pm

I let the final proofing happen in the vessel I am going to bake it it. Place vessel in a COLD oven set at 425 degrees for rompfertop or 450 degrees for dutch oven. Set the timer for 70 min and let ur rip! Results perfectly baked bread with a brown crust and internaal temperature of 210 degrees. I place a sheet of parchment paper in bottom of vessel.

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freddc1 September 8, 2010 at 1:42 pm

i agree that even wth gloves can be challenge. thats why i purchased the round cloche, no high walls. also the gloves are much better than mitts at removing the lid. i bought both from the site, nice products an very reasonable $$$.

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Fred Mesgar September 7, 2010 at 8:16 pm

I baked this bread couple time the challenge for me is to drop this wet dough into a hot dutch oven pot which has high wall, do you think I can use baking stone instead of dutch oven ?

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Eric (another one) September 7, 2010 at 6:21 pm

I don’t know why, but it has always been an hour for me. I get good uneven crumb, and the crumb is still slightly moist, so I don’t think it is overbaked. My notes say that I used to preheat to a higher temp, then lower the heat a bit to bake… maybe I’ll try that again and see if it makes a thinner crust. Also, I’ll use your timing.

The good news is that even my not perfect loaves are better than store-bought.

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Freddc1 September 7, 2010 at 7:36 am

ok, did a double batch with round clay and long clay dishes and came out wonderful. Lately I’ve been adding a little extra water so dough is very difficult to handle getting into the proofing basket, and also hates to let go when i invert it onto the pot. However, I like the bread resulsts with the extra water. Have been using parchment paper to help me transfer the dought as its hard to shape with the oblong pot. Also, some paper got into a couple nooks and crannies and needed to be pulled out but added to its rustic appearance – not a big deal!!!! Tried dried cranberry and baby sunflower seeds. As to temps, been following the basis temps from the recipe.

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Breadtopia September 7, 2010 at 4:28 am

Hi other Eric,

I bake for about 30 with the lid on and 10-15 with the lid off. Not sure why it’s taking an hour to bake your bread at 475. Something strange about that.

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RQ September 7, 2010 at 12:26 am

Tried this no-knead method for the first time today and it turned out pretty impressive. The dough after final proofing was still wet and sticky. As advised, I disregarded it but had difficulty flipping it into the clay pot without messing up the side of the pot and the even spread of the linseed and sesame seed coating at the top ofthe dough. I was very glad that the chinese clay pot served just as well as the la cloche dutch oven. End result – crusty outside and soft inside. Lessons learnt : use more flour or less water or proof for 12-14 hours instead of 18 hours. I am now more confident to try the other variations. Thanks.

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Eric (another one) September 5, 2010 at 8:21 pm

I have been successfully making sourdough NKB for a year and a half now, but have one issue: I am increasingly finding that my crusts are too thick. I bake my bread in a La Cloche in the oven set at 450 (but the oven runs hot, so more like 475) for 45 min, then uncovered for another 15 min. Internal temp is between 200-203.

I am wondering whether to reduce a) covered baking time, b) covered baking temperature, c) uncovered baking time, or d) uncovered baking temperature.

Any comments, or suggestions would be appreciated.

thanks.

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Breadtopia September 5, 2010 at 7:17 pm

Hi Tom,

Here are a couple of comments from Breadtopia readers who have had success with preventing burnt bottoms.

From Mike –
Several people have suggested using a cookie sheet to deflect radiant heat from the element on the bottom of an electric oven – some (like Bette) suggest placing the cookie sheet directly under the pot; others on the rack just below the rack holding the pot; others still on the bottom-most rack, directly above the heating element. I’ve tried all three and they all prevent a burnt bottom. However, in my experience, placing a shiny aluminum cookie sheet on the bottom-most rack covering the element is the most effective solution.

From Fred –
I may have inadvertently stumbled on a solution for scorched and burned bottom crusts. I was about to put the dough onto a piece of parchment paper and realized that there was too much paper for my proofing bowl, which makes it awkward to handle when putting it into a hot cloche. So I cut the paper in half and put both pieces in crossways to each other. After I baked the bread at 500 for 30 min with the lid and 20 min at 425 without the lid, the crust came out looking great – and the bottom looks great also. The interior temp was 210 when I took it out of the oven. I am wondering whether the two layers of parchment paper did the job.

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Tom L September 5, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Does anybody experience a burnt bottom crust? I did my first lof today and the bottom was so burnt I had to cut it off. The remaining bread was great!!! I noticed in one video on baking silician bread there was a foil pan on the bottom rack, can I assume that is water in there to create steam? Do you do this for all breads? Should I use this technique with the standard no-knead recipe?

Thanks for your site it is such a great resource!!!

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Gary..... the other one September 4, 2010 at 10:43 pm

I use my La Cloche in a 450 degree oven… it’s in there when I turn my oven on…. no soaking. I let the oven come to temp, wait 15 minutes (just because) then in goes the dough… 35 minutes covered, 10 uncovered… YUM… !

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gyongyi September 4, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Thanks for the quick reply, now, I suppose then that you would not soak the romertopf either. Am I wrong? Thanks.

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Breadtopia September 5, 2010 at 4:43 am

I don’t soak my Romertopf (or cloches) either. Not for bread baking. My wife uses the same Romertopf for some other stewy type dishes and soaks it before hand.

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Breadtopia September 4, 2010 at 8:09 pm

I use mine all the time at 475 – 500.

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gyongyi September 4, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Just wonder if anyone used the romertopf at 500F? I never used my clay pots in hot oven, I set the baker in the cold oven and go from there. I would love to hear your experience with this. Thanks.

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freddc1 August 25, 2010 at 9:36 am

hi
this string caused me to do some investigating. i currently let my dough rise all day in the cold oven but with the light on. last night i put a thermometer in there and temp was 87-88 degrees which i believe is too warm and may be causing my bread to over proof. i get rounded top but bread often has flattened a little whle its baking. crumb is good but prefer a rounder top. not sure if thats the reason but this morning i put a dough to rise with no light on so we’ll see what happens tonight.
Also, any suggestion on “flattening tops” would be appreciated.
fred

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Santa Maria August 24, 2010 at 8:58 pm

I hear ya. I’m also from Canada and our home can get down to 13 degrees C during the night. I usually wrap my bowls with tea towels. I will also put them on the stovetop under the microwave light or right in the microwave (low light on or off depending on the temp. outside) and take it out once we get home from work and the house has warmed up. RighThis time of year my first rise is 12 hours but in the winter it’s more like 24 so I mix it up in the evening. By the time I shape the dough for the second rise, the house is warm.

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Maria August 24, 2010 at 6:04 pm

@ Christina – Have you tried covering it loosely (I use a plastic produce bag from the grocery store) and just putting it in the oven? Oven turned off of course. We do this, and it seems to work fine. The oven keeps it out of drafts, etc.

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christina August 24, 2010 at 4:42 pm

I love this website, by the way. And my husband loves the bread! :) I wanted to see if anyone has any great ideas how to find a warm place overnight to let the dough rise? I live in Canada and we’re a bit cheap so we turn down the heat overnight, and it’s way too cold for the poor dough. Any ideas?

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Santa Maria August 23, 2010 at 11:20 pm

When increasing fermentation time for NK sourdough bread (and decreasing starter from 1/2 to 1/4 cup) to increase the sourness of the bread, when is the dough refrigerated. In this summer weather I’ve been letting my dough rise about 12 hourse and then 2 hours for the second rise but that’s been with yeast not starter so not sure if the dough will rise enough in 12 hours as I’ve only tried the sourdough recipe twice and that was back in late winter. Thanks for any suggestions.

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Margaret August 11, 2010 at 1:54 pm

I just made my first loaf of NKB. I’m so excited! I haven’t tasted it yet (it’s cooling on the rack as I type) and it didn’t really “straighten out” during the baking process like the Bittman article says it would.

I didn’t use anything other than cornmeal and it fell right out of my Crueset.

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Breadtopia August 9, 2010 at 5:55 am

Hi Gary,

Yes you can, but since one of the signature techniques of no knead baking is to bake the dough in covered vessels to better develop the crust, what I’ve done is inverted two of the mini pans to cover the other two. Or you could tent them with foil.

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Gary from Wisconsin August 8, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Can NK bread be made in the Romertopf Mini Loaf Pans that are sold on this web site. My wife and I saw mini dutch ovens at William Sonoma this weekend and thought it would be nice to make small NK breads. But a set of 3 of these mini dutch ovens were $99. So has anyone made NK bread this way?

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Gary from Wisconsin August 8, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Fred,

I just made a double (6 cups of flour) loaf of NK bread this morning using the cold start method. So after letting the dough rise for a second time in my dutch oven. I put the dutch oven in the oven turned on warm until the oven was preheated for 1/2 an hour. Then I turn the oven on to 500 deg F with the bread in the oven until the oven beeps that it is 500 degs and then turn it down to 450. After 50 minutes covered, I uncover for 5 minutes and then check the temp. The temp is always right at 200 and the I then dump the loaf out.

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Fred August 7, 2010 at 5:50 am

Thanks Gary.
i tried it by the book and let it proof in a parchment lined frying pan then dropped it into the preheated 500 pot. Removed lid after half for final 15 minutes uncovered. my timer stopped so i had to guesstimate. when i checked the internal was 207 but everything was good.
With the cold start, do you remove the lid at some point and cookd uncovered?

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Gary from Wisconsin August 6, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Hey freddc1,

I have used both the hot pot and cold pot method. The only difference is the cold pot take a little longer to cook. For either method I use a meat themometer to make sure the bread is 200 deg F before I take it out of the oven. So after the time you cook the bread in the hot pot start checking the temp until it is 200.

The cold pot method is quite a bit easier for me. I actually do the 2nd rise in the same pot that I use to cook the bread.

The bread comes out great using either method.

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freddc1 August 6, 2010 at 1:07 pm

thank you. i would think the baking time would be longer with cold pot going into the cold oven versus the preheated pot and oven.

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Sheila August 6, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Freddc1,

I bake the same amount of time but I do use parchment paper to avoid any sticking problem.

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freddc1 August 6, 2010 at 12:11 pm

I’ve been making the NK breads for few months and have question on cold start vs. hot pot. i’ve seen similar recipe but starting with cold oven. Are there any (dis)advantages to either method. For instance, is there a cold start formula rather than your method of 30 minutes into hot pot/hot oven and 15 uncovered. i’d appreciate any help. thank you.

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Dave August 3, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Mary Beeth, yeast for bread machines (usually in a jar) works well. I use regular dry yeast and it works fine for me.

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The original Gary :) July 31, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Mary Beeth,

You can purchase the SAF – Instant yeast here on the website… however, with shipping, it may be more than you’re willing to pay….

Here in Southern California, I found it at Smart & Final stores… around $4.00 for the 1 pound package…. let us know where you’re located.

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Mary Beeth July 31, 2010 at 12:56 pm

The video and details in this posting resulted in my first successful attempt at no knead bread. It was perfect! One dilemma was my lack of “instant” yeast–none of the stores here carry it. However, I used active dry and reconstituted it per the package directions and the dough rose perfectly, both times. Where can I get instant yeast??

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Joe Detrano July 28, 2010 at 5:10 am

Joe and Sheila,

Thanks for the info. I will try it this weekend.

I have been using a bowl sprayed with olive oil and coated lightly with Wondra flour for the second rise. I could never get the towel and flour system to work, especially with really wet dough. The bowl works fine for me but i’d love to get rid of having to clean that bowl:-)!

I have been making NKB ever since the Bittman article in the New York Times. i live in Florida where getting good bread is not easy. this bread is fantastic. and Breadtopia is a great place to learn.

Joe

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Cullen S July 27, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Here is my experience with making a larger loaf:

I took the weight ingredients provided by Lahey and multiplied everything by 1.6. 640g flour, 480g water, and about 1/2 cup of sourdough starter. I baked it at 460 for 35 minutes covered, and about 18 minutes uncovered. It seemed to work well.

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Gary July 27, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Hey Joe,

About the second rise in the dutch oven. Before I put the dough in I sprayed the dutch oven with pam and sprinkled corn meal on the bottom. The loaf fell right out when done.

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Sheila July 27, 2010 at 11:11 am

Joe,
I have started using parchment paper in addition to oiling to avoid the sticking problem as I start from a cold oven. I have an oblong cloche and a covered loaf pyrex that I bake in.

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