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 }

Shannon February 23, 2011 at 2:50 pm

I just made my first loaf of NK bread. Since we are having spaghetti tonight I decided to add some seasonings as indicated in other posts. I was afraid to overseason so I just sprinkled a little of what I wanted (oregano, thyme, basil, granulated garlic and onion powder) into the dry ingredients. I also did not have a La Cloche and our dutch oven is inaccessible. Based on some other readings I used my pizza stone sprinkled with cornmeal and then covered it with a 10.5 inch terra cotta azalea pot (it’s shorter than most terra cotta pots) and plugged the hole with aluminum foil. After 20 minutes at 500 degrees I removed the pot and reduced the temp to 450 for the remaining 25 minutes. Let me just say – WONDERFUL, MARVELOUS, AMAZING. It came out with a nice, crunchy crust but a surprisingly soft, slightly chewy, texture inside and lots of open holes which I have not been able to achieve in any of the other breads I’ve tried recently. Thanks for this site!

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Breadtopia February 23, 2011 at 4:08 pm

That’s awesome, Shannon. Great story.

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Steve K in California February 17, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Tips & Alerts:

Look for and use Reynolds non-stick aluminum foil. I use it to line the the dough in the proofing basket. I don’t bother to tip the loaf as it goes into the clay baker cuz I am klutzy on occasion and don’t want the dough to fall. So I lift the dough out using the foil as handles and plop it into the clay baker. Easy to reuse the foil too.

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Jack Hibler February 16, 2011 at 8:36 am

I have Your Claybaker & verias other supplys from You,
the Bread comes out good, but I have trouble finding
Caraway seeds here locally ……….Please advice……..
Thanks

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Cathy February 8, 2011 at 8:30 am

Sandy – I know you didn’t mean oil in the recipe, I have seen recipes that use oil instead of flour for the outside of the dough. I have tried that, but didn’t like that the bread had a greasy feel plus when I put them in brown paper bags before giving them away, the paper gets greasy. I just think it’s unnecessary. No health issues just looking for less grease in food in general. Plus, I don’t think I should be greasing the cloche… Thank you so much anyway.

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sandy February 7, 2011 at 4:37 pm

mitch…………actually it does sizzle for a few seconds, but no harm is done. I actually have been useing the spray can of olive oil just before I drop the dough in. and I use a cast iron pot and it works wonderfully for me. try it, you might like it.

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sandy February 7, 2011 at 4:32 pm

cathy………….I didn’t mean oil in the recipe. I meant oil or butter your baking vessel………….your baked loaf then falls right out. it is a minimal amount if you are concerned with any health issues???

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Cathy February 7, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Mitch – Thank you! I may just have to go back to parchment if the corn meal routine doesn’t work. Nothing lost, just into the visuals… :)

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Cathy February 7, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Breadtopia mentors – Both pots have been broken in, the Emile Henry for a year, the cloche since Christmas. And I bake bread about 2-3x a week (I love making it so much that I give it away to my neighbors). They are coming out of a screaming 450º oven, the temp that works best for me. However, lately I have also been keeping the dough in the same bowl that it rose in for 18 hours, and just do a light fold with a spatula, that turns it to silk and somehow I get more rise out of the bread, less degassing, (no extra flour or on the table for the 2 folds) let rise 2 hours and then scrape into the pots. I am going to try sprinkling corn meal, I can’t imagine that that wouldn’t work. Thank you soo much for the brilliant idea… I will keep you posted.

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Cathy February 7, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Sandy – I haven’t used oil… I like making my bread without it. I have seen it mentioned in other bread recipes, maybe I should try that sometime….
Thank you for the thought.

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Mitch February 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm

If you look in Jim Lahey’s “Bread” book, he does not grease any of the vessels in which he bakes. In fact, how would one grease a cast iron pot, let alone a terra cotta baker, that’s been preheated to 450F-500F? It seems that the grease would sizzle on the cast iron (or Pyrex or Corning Ware for that matter) and the dough in contact with that surface would start frying. As far as terra cotta is concerned it seems any grease would possible absorb into the terra cotta. And what about when baking on a pizza stone and covering the dough with some kind of vessel. We surely aren’t greasing the pizza stone before laying the dough on it. If anything, I think the sticking might be occurring because the surface the dough is sitting on wasn’t hot enough when it hit that surface. When I bake in my Terra cotta I do transfer the dough using parchment and ignore whatever creases result because to me the taste is everything — and it never sticks as a result.

Anyway, that’s just my two cents worth. :-)

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Breadtopia February 7, 2011 at 12:46 pm

It’s a strange thing. I never have a problem with sticking in a cloche, Emile Henry, whatever. Very wet dough, dry dough, doesn’t matter. I don’t grease anything. I don’t use parchment paper. Yet I do hear of people having the problem from time to time.

I’ve just assumed it was because the pots were new and for some weird reason required a bit of a break in period. If the pot is not preheated to a high temp before putting the dough in, it will surely stick, but some people are seeing sticking even when preheating first. So for new pots, I’ve been in the habit of recommending sprinkling some flour in the pot just prior to plopping the dough in.

I’d love to get to the bottom of the sticking issue one of these days. Not having the problem myself makes testing solutions rather difficult.

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sandy February 7, 2011 at 12:34 pm

cathy………….silly question……but I assume you are greasing your vessel really well?

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Cathy February 7, 2011 at 11:11 am

Help! I used to be a parchment junkie with no problems sticking etc… However, I decided for the “look” of the loaf (less paper wrinkles) to try going without.
I had a lot of success pouring it into my long cloche and my Emile Henry pot. (I make two loaves at a shot) However, in the last couple of weeks of baking the bread is now sticking to both pots! I have scrubbed them, not sure what to do, but it’s making me sad…. maybe I need to go back to the parchment routine?
Any thoughts out there? No and it’s not a wetness thing… Today’s batch was on the drier side.

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KXJ February 6, 2011 at 3:04 am

Thanks — 17 hours later and it does look slightly more like the photo but pretty dry. I’m in the proofing stage now and will let you know how it comes out. I think the problem is that I used measuring cups and not a scale (even though I have one!) plus we’re at a higher altitude (4200 feet).

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Wil February 5, 2011 at 2:02 pm

KXJ, I would just go with what you have, cover it and put it in the refrigerator for a day at least. It will turn a little wetter. Then take it out, shape, and let set on the counter for about an hour then bake. The next time, add a little water when you are mixing your dough. It should be tacky almost stickey.

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KXJ February 5, 2011 at 11:19 am

Thanks guys — this is all very, very helpful as I’m a total newbie and any information is good information. My original sourdough starter was very wet which I gather from reading below caused the foamy bubbles. Yesterday I thickened it up substantially and it looks more like the starters in the photos (with lots of bubbles in a very wet dough). I just mixed up the sourdough no-knead dough according to the recipe given here on Breadtopia and it’s awfully dry. It’s not even really tacky at all. I finished it about an hour ago and it hasn’t risen much (and maybe it’s not yet since we’re supposed to give it 18 hours) and is not spreading.

Should I add a Tablespoon or so of water?

Thanks, KXJ

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Mitch February 4, 2011 at 12:30 pm

KXJ,

I’m afraid I might have led you astray. When I earlier referred you to the photo of what the bubbles should look like was showing you what the top of the bread dough should look like when it has finished fermenting after 12-18 hours. But in looking at your photo again it seems that I was looking at the surface of your sourdough starter, not your bread dough. In fact, I was going to say to you that there were so many bubbles, your dough looked more like a very active sourdough starter rather than a fermented bread dough. Sorry if I confused you.

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Wil February 4, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Yeast gives you bubbles (gas) which gives rise to your starter and bread dough. I wouldn’t worry to much about bacteria. A mature sourdough starter is hardy stuff which has the ability to kill off other bad bacteria, all on it’s own. That’s why a good starter will last so long. Now mold is a different story. A good starter will have a balance of yeast and good symbiotic bacteria, notably the lactobacillus. If the yeast colonies in your starter gets depleted, from infrequent feeding, you will not get so much fermentation, thus fewer bubbles or less rise to your dough. Once the yeasties roar back to life and start growing again, you’ll be back in business. Some people will complain their starter is sour enough, but their bread doesn’t rise. To much lacto, not enough yeast. Or, bread rises but it is not sour. To much yeast, not enough lacto. A good, well fed starter will be in balance and nearly indestructible. As far as your well water foam goes, I have no idea. A good fermentation will cause zillions of tiny bubbles, depending on how wet your starter is. I keep my starter kind of thick, like a thick pancake batter. It does not show a lot of bubbles but it will double in volume, on the counter in about 2 hours, in the refrigerator in about a day.

Wil

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KXJ February 4, 2011 at 10:31 am

Thanks Wil — I’ll try these things out. As an aside today when I fed the sourdough starter I used bottled mineral water instead of borehole water (I gather a borehole here is like a well in the states) and it didn’t foam up like previous days, which made me wonder if the borehole contains some bacteria contributing to the foam.

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Wil February 4, 2011 at 9:19 am

The way to a sour, sourdough starter is to store your starter in the refrigerator when not using. It is cold that develops the Lactobacillus that gives you the sour. If you don’t bake each week, take your starter out of the refrigerator, remove an amount of starter, replace it with an equal amount of water and flour, stir and put back into the refrigerator. It also helps to use an amount of rye and/or whole wheat flour. It will get sour, I assure you. Another way to develop a sourdough bread, commented on earlier, is through a long slow fermentation. Again, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, with peak flavor being reached on day 3. Even a dough made with just instant yeast will developed a nice sourdough flavor. Time, temperature and a no-knead consistency is the successful equation. Hope this helps.

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KXJ February 3, 2011 at 11:08 pm

Hi Mitch — ohhh! I did misunderstand you. Thanks for the clarification. Also, I didn’t know that the more you add the less the sourdough flavor and I probably added way too much (I even topped it off with a few more sourdough starter when I thought it wasn’t working). Again, thanks for the info! Re Zambia, we moved here on a university-related research project for a 2-5 year stint. Our youngest child just graduated from high school so we thought, why not?!

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Mitch February 3, 2011 at 10:54 pm

KXJ,

I’m not sure I’m following you when you say “I think you’re point about just starting a regular starter is good.”
I’m not starting a regular starter (whatever that means). If you are thinking that I am making a starter by using yeast instead of doing it the conventional way, that is not at all what I’m doing. What I’m doing is using a small quantity of yeast in the formula instead instead of using a sourdough. There are videos right here on this site that show how to do that. Also, if you go to YouTube and type in Jim Lahey you’ll see how he does his no knead method, using yeast and not sourdough. But, if you must have that sourdough taste you’ll have to keep experimenting with it.
If I recall correctly, the more sourdough starter you use, the less of a sourdough taste you will get. And judging by those bubbles in you photo, it suggests you used too much sourdough starter, which may well account for the lack of sourdough taste you reported in your last post.
Question, if you don’t mind: How did you wind up moving from Michigan to Zambia? Is this permanent or temporary? :-)

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KXJ February 3, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Thanks Mitch! This is great. It is about 76-79 degrees here during the day, pretty humid, and we’re at 4200 feet (we’ve just moved from Michigan to Lusaka, Zambia). I think all of those things contribute to a faster fermentation/rise? I have to say while today’s bread came out great, it really didn’t have a sourdough flavor so I think you’re point about just starting a regular starter is good. (and all of that effort for a sourdough! :/

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Mitch February 3, 2011 at 11:20 am

KXJ,

Please take a look at this video to get a better idea of what those bubble should look like.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FG19qS_IL2s

Perhaps you’re using too much starter, and/or you’re fermenting the dough too long, and/or you’re in a room that’s warmer than 70-72 F. I stopped using sourdough starter because I found it to much of a bother and prefer the consistency I get using instant yeast. Also, the flavor develops so beautifully over the long fermentation time that I don’t feel that I’m missing anything using the yeast rather than the sourdough starter. Of course it’s all a matter of taste.

With the dough bubbling away like that, I wouldn’t prolong the time and I’d move on to the next step. What’s so much fun about all of this is that no matter what, you almost always get to eat your mistakes. In over a year of doing this there was just one bread I made that I wasn’t thrilled with, and I ate it anyway because it was still too good to throw away. :-)

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KXJ February 3, 2011 at 9:29 am

Thanks Mitch. I’m brand new to this and actually just used the starter for the first time today to make a loaf (and I still have an hour of proofing to go before baking). The bread is rising. What should be done in cases like this (foamy feeds). Thanks for your help.

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Mitch February 3, 2011 at 9:24 am

KXJ,

Sorry, I meant to say the amount and “type” of bubbles. Regarding the type, yours look as though they are overactive and about to pop, which implies quite a bit more activity than one normally sees at the surface of the dough using this method.

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Mitch February 3, 2011 at 9:19 am

KXJ,

Actually, in my humble opinion, the amount and number of bubbles you show in that photo wouldn’t be considered “normal” compared to photos from other sources as well as from my own experience, but if this is giving you the results that you like then that’s the important thing. :-)

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KXJ February 2, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Hey–I discovered what the problem was. I wasn’t feeding it enough given the humidity and warmth here. When I increased the feedings it went crazy like mad. Is it normal to have almost foam-like bubbles in it like the photo?

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KXJ January 30, 2011 at 6:06 am

thanks for the quick reply — I should also mention that we’re about 4200 feet, humid, with temps ranging from 71-78 in the kitchen. Will the altitude, temperature and humidity have any impact on the starter? How long should I give it?

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KXJ January 30, 2011 at 5:38 am

Greetings from Zambia! We just moved here 3 weeks ago and I was eager to get a new sourdough starter going. I used your dry flakes with the proper mixture and all was well the first day, but then when I added in the extra water/flour it seemed to stop all action. I tried adding a few more dry flakes this morning and more water/flour and it has very small bubbles but no large active ones yet. The water I’m using is bottled mineral water (that’s as close to purified as they have). We’re on a well here that’s heavy in lime but potable that I could use as well. thanks.

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Breadtopia January 30, 2011 at 5:46 am

Bottled mineral water is good to use. May just need some more time.

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Breadtopia January 23, 2011 at 11:15 am

It’s not necessary.

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Karen January 23, 2011 at 10:23 am

Should the rolls be baked in a heated covered baker, just as the bread is?

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Breadtopia January 22, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Hi Karen,

I’ve made some pretty crusty rolls by just following the recipe as is only forming small balls of dough and baking for a much shorter time. I can’t recall what that time is but guessing it was around 20 minutes.

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Karen January 22, 2011 at 3:49 pm

How can I make crusty rolls the no-knead way?

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Terri January 19, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Thanks to all of you who responded for the very helpful suggestions regarding the overly brown crust. You’ve giving me hope that I too will achieve that perfect loaf of bread.

Thank you again.

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sandy January 19, 2011 at 1:01 pm

wil………..thank you. will try that in the morning.

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Wil January 19, 2011 at 12:59 pm

For a golden brown, done in the middle loaf; after putting your dough in the baker, turn the oven down to 425 and bake with the cover on for 35-40 minutes. Using a good thermometer check at 35 minutes. It should be around 200 degrees. Works every time for me with a clay baker. The key is to leave the cover on at a lower temp for the entire baking time.

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ann wank January 19, 2011 at 9:36 am

Well here is what I did to achieve a really nice loaf without any burnt bottom:
As some of you have suggested, I moved the rack up to a higher position. I also put a pizza stone on the rack and preheated to 500 for 30 minutes, but instead of using my nice Le Creuset, I tried using a Corning Ware casserole like the one rainyb posted on 1/13/11. I did use the parchment, too. I cooked for 30 min with the lid on and 20 with it off. My internal temp measured 206. This was the best loaf I ever achieved. I think the combo of my oven with the intensity of the Le Creuset’s heat was just too much.

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sandy January 19, 2011 at 9:24 am

My two cents too!! I like the golden brown color also. I am going to try cooking the whole time with the cover on.

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Gary from Wisconsin January 19, 2011 at 8:46 am

To Terri who said, “the bread is a beautiful light golden color. Once cover is removed, it quickly (10 minutes) turns quite brown, starting to burn.”

I have stopped cooking with the dutch oven’s cover off altogether. I feel if the internal temperature is right, 200 degs F is what I use, then the bread is done. I like the light golden brown color. So stick a meat temperature probe in after your 30 minutes and see. If at 200 you think the middle is undone, go to 205 the next time.

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Fred January 18, 2011 at 9:03 pm

<> – that is, use less water.

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Fred January 18, 2011 at 9:01 pm

You can and you should. Nothing is written in stone. Ovens differ in their baking, even if the temperature is the same. Your measurements may be different. Play around with it – see what happens. I have found that using a less hydrated dough produces a higher, less darkened loaf.

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Terri January 18, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Please help. I make the bread in an enameled, cast-iron dutch oven. When I remove the lid after the initial 30-minute baking period, the bread is a beautiful light golden color. Once cover is removed, it quickly (10 minutes) turns quite brown, starting to burn. Thus, the inside is still slightly spongy with the crust being too dark (bottom and top of bread). Still tastes very good, but the inside is not baked quite enough. Should I leave the lid on longer with a shorter uncovered baking time? So frustrated since I purchased what I believe to a very good dutch oven. Thank you for any help you can give me.

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Wil January 17, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Hi Margie, if your starter doesn’t look right or smell right, it probably isn’t. Cold would not be the culprit, more likely a mold has settled on top. You may be able to salvage it without starting all over. Carefully scrape some of the top away and with another spoon, scoop out about 2 tabls of starter from near the bottom. Mix this with 2 tbls of flour and an equal amount of water. When it is bubbling good. Do the same thing again. One more time and you should be good to make whatever quantiy you normally manage. Good luck.

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Margie Sweetland January 17, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Hello I have a question. I left my sour dough starter out on the sink for a week
and I went this morning to feed it and it has an orange/pink hugh to it and the
bubbles on the top look like they have bursted. It also has a different aroma.
Sort of like Gym Socks. HA Can you tell me what this is and what I could have
done wrong. I usually keep it in the ice box but it has been quite cool here in the
kitchen on the Sile Stone so I thought that would be good enough. I used it
last week and fed it then, but not since then. I am assuming I should throw this
stuff out.

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Cathy January 16, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Ann,
I am wondering if you are placing the Le Creuset closer to the bottom of the oven, try moving it up higher. My thinking is that the heat may be emanating from the bottom, as mine does. Hope this helps.

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sandy January 16, 2011 at 2:06 pm

ann………….I took my silicone cookie sheet and cut a round out of it to fit the bottom of my dutch oven and that solved the black bottoms!! you can also cut a round of parchment and it does the same thing. drop the round of whatever you use after your dutch oven is heated and you are ready to drop in your bread. drop the round in first and then drop in your bread. have fun.

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Breadtopia January 16, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Hi Ann,

Try placing your Le Cruset on a cookie sheet next time. Those thicker insulated cookie sheets work best, but any aught to help.

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Breadtopia January 16, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Hi Karen,

No need to soak before preheating for bread baking.

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ann wank January 15, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Why did the bottom of my no knead burn? My oven is at the right temp, I followed the directions exactly. I used a Le Cruset dutch oven. The loaf looks beautiful until you turn it over. I’ll just cut off the bottom and I’m sure it will taste good, but it’s kind of a bummer when you spend so much time on this.

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