Cook’s Illustrated Almost No Knead

A Clever Variation of an “Old” Theme

My hat is off to for formulating a worthy variation to the now famous New York Times no knead recipe. They call it their “Almost No Knead” bread since it involves a bit of light kneading, but another key step in the process is streamlined so overall their recipe is still a cinch to make.

If you’re already familiar with the “traditional” no knead recipe, I think you will find the final results of this one significantly different in almost all respects. This crust has a nice crunch to it but is much thinner and easier to chew and the interior crumb is tighter (smaller holes) and softer. I wouldn’t classify this bread as “rustic” like I would the NYT version.

But what really sets this recipe apart is its flavor. The addition of a few ounces of beer and a tablespoon of white vinegar creates a unique and pleasing flavor all its own.

In these videos I cover the Cooks Illustrated plain white flour and whole wheat flour versions.

This recipe also converts extremely well to sandwich loaf bread. In the third video below, I do just that.

I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of this bread – please leave your comments below.

Update: See Virginia’s comment post of 8/22/08. She made a few changes to get great results with a rye version (click link) of this recipe.

White Flour Recipe:

3 cups (15 ounces) all purpose or bread flour
1/4 tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. (7 ounces) water at room temp
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. (3 ounces) mild flavored lager
1 Tbs. white vinegar

Whole Wheat Recipe:

2 cups (10 ounces) all purpose or bread flour
1 cup (5 ounces) whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. honey (I used 2 Tbs. raw sugar)
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. (7 ounces) water at room temp
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. (3 ounces) mild flavored lager
1 Tbs. white vinegar

Note: The beer can be non-alcoholic.
Also, regarding the use of sugar and the ratio of white to whole wheat flour in the ‘Whole Wheat’ recipe, see the post from Beatrix below. She used 2 cups of whole wheat flour and 1 of white and it still came out light.

Baking Instructions: For both these recipes, preheat your oven with Dutch oven or Cloche inside to 500 degrees. Reduce temperature to 425 when the bread dough goes in and bake covered for 30 minutes. Then remove cover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until the internal bread temperature reaches about 200 degrees.

Almost No Knead

Almost No Knead

Almost No Knead Sandwich Loaf Recipe

The thinner crust and softer, tighter crumb of the Almost No Knead recipe, combined with its subtle flavors, makes it a nice candidate for a sandwich loaf. Here’s a video of the process with the the adjusted ingredient quantities.

18 ounces (~3 2/3 cups) flour. Use all white or a combination of white and up to 6 ounces whole wheat.
1 3/4 tsp salt
3/8 tsp. instant yeast

1 cup (8 ounces) water
1/2 cup (4 ounces) beer

1 1/4 Tbs white vinegar
2 1/2 Tbs honey
(I use raw sugar instead). The honey is suggested only when baking the whole wheat version of this recipe.

Baking Instructions: Preheat oven to 425. Place bread pan with risen dough in oven and reduce temperature to 350. Bake for 55 minutes or until internal bread temperature is about 200 degrees. Note that in the video I’m using a Pyrex bread pan. A metal bread pan would probably bake a few minutes faster.

Note: some have reported an issue with the loaf sticking to the bread pan. After buttering/oiling the baking pans, cornmeal can be sprinkled liberally on the insides and bottom of the pans. This eliminates the bread sticking to the sides while baking. Thanks to Tom & Melody DeGraziano for this tip.

{ 622 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeffrey August 24, 2008 at 1:16 pm

Hi, Beth

From your post, I couldn’t tell exactly how your dough sits in your dutch oven when you bake it. I noticed that in the video, when Eric puts the dough into his La Cloche bakers, the parchment paper forms a kind of cradle, which will help support the sides of the bread and give it more upward support.

Other than that, I have a few generalized comments about getting free-standing breads to stand up and not spread out, which is based on my own experience and reading books by Peter Reinhart and Maggie Glezer.

One of the first reasons that some doughs don’t stand up is “over-proofing”: the dough is allowed to ferment too long. The fermentation process causes the gluten in bread to develop, so that it forms the nice crumb structure and shape – but then, if continued too long, causes the gluten to weaken so that it lacks the tensile strength necessary for a nice free-standing shape and upward rise. Over-proofing can also cause the yeast to become exhausted, so that there’s little or no oven-spring when you put the dough into the hot oven.

Another reason for spread and instead of lift is using lower-gluten flour. If you’re using all-purpose flour, try using bread flour instead. For the whole wheat recipe, try using some high-gluten flour (like 1/2 to 1 cup or so, substituted for 1/2 to 1 cup of white flour). Shaping is also important: the process in the video where Eric pulls the dough up to the top and pinches it in order to create a lot of surface tension, making the “skin” of the dough tight. This step is extremely important to aid in upward lift.

One of the things I have found in my bread-making is that free-standing loaves with a very open crumb require a very delicate balance among hydration (how much liquid compared to how much flour), gluten content and development, fermentation time, and
the level of physical effort involved in the creating the final dough. The no-knead bread, for instance, has a high hydration (78% by my calculations; french baguettes are about 65-70%). and the very long fermentation period gives the gluten in the dough opportunity to develop. (Gluten development in part is a product of enzyme activity, which is why the no-knead method works so well – the enzymes have time to develop the gluten.) For very high hydration breads like ciabatta, extensive kneading is usually required in addition to long fermentation. Perhaps one of the more significant facts which derives from these relationships is that, if after long fermentation the dough is too wet (and thus too slack), adding flour shortly before bake-time in an effort to make the dough drier isn’t going to improve the gluten structure very much – isn’t going to help that much with oven-lift, because the gluten in the added flour hasn’t had enough time to fully develop. You don’t want to knead bread (to develop gluten of the added flour) that is already mostly rising, because doing so will release too much gas that’s trapped in the feremented dough. You don’t want to give the dough much more time to ferment (again to develop the gluten in the added flour) because then the yeast will become exhausted and the already-developed gluten will weaken. Adding lots of flour after fermentation is mostly done also makes the dough taste too “floury”.

Conclusion: It’s important to get the flour/water ratio right before fermentation begins, not after it’s mostly finished, which takes some experience. Any flour added after fermentation is simply to aid in handling the dough, not to contribute to it’s structure and taste.

Based on your post, it really sounds like you’re using the right amount of water, but the gluten level of your flour is too low. Also, you might not be getting enough tension on the skin when shaping the loaf for the 2nd rise.


Ephrim Schwartz October 12, 2014 at 8:27 am

To keep the shape of a well-hydrated round, free-standing bread I use the baker’s couch from King Arthur. I fan fold it to about 1.5 to 2 inches high, create a circle held together with a rubber band. I flour the inside that comes in contact with the dough. I use a Cloche so I cut a round of parchment paper to fit inside the Cloche when rady to bake. When I cut out the paper I don’t make a perfect circle. Instead on two side I extend the paper to form two handles. I place the boule inside the circle, on top of the circle of parchment paper, adjusting the clothe couche until it almost touches the loaf. Cover the whole thing with a big bowl.
When ready to bake, I uncover the big bowl, move close to the oven, quickly cUT or remove rubber band to remove couch and using handle of parchment paper slide dough into cloche, cover with Cloche top. Voila, usually it maintains its shape. As they say, it’s all in the wrists.
Try it.


Beth August 23, 2008 at 4:42 pm

My dough is coming out very soft. won’t hold a shape, just sort of spreads to cover the bottom of the dutch oven.
At the first mixing stage, it looks just like the video. A little stiff. But, by the time the first 15-18 hours is done, it’s very spongy. I knead it just a few times (10-12) adding just a sprinkling of flour, and form it into a shape, but it is soft and kind of slowly fills up the pan I’m using for the 2nd rising.
Then, it rises, very nicely, but I have to bake it in the pan, or grab all the corners of the parchment paper and put the whole thing into the dutch oven. It then spreads to fill up the bottom of the dutch oven.
Should I shorten the 1st rising?
Should I just bake it in a slightly smaller dutch oven? A 5 qt would make the loaf taller.

The first time I used the straight white flour recipe.
Next I tried the larger WW/White combo (2 C WW and 1 C white) recipe

The white flour in the house is Pillsbury unbleached.
I bought a bag of KA whole wheat for the 2nd attempt.

I am visiting my parents house in Florida. It’s very humid, but the house is AC’d.
I’ve weighed the ingredients.
I’d like a more shape holding dough to bake, so I can bake some loaf shapes, instead of all round.

The taste and texture of the bread is wonderful. Nice chewy and bubbly interior and very close or even identical to a good sourdough.
As soon as I can find some rye flour around here, I’m going to try a caraway sour rye.

thanks for any insights!


breadtopia August 23, 2008 at 5:31 am

That sounds great, Virginia. I just put a link with the main recipe (above) to direct interested people to your post.


Virginia August 22, 2008 at 4:13 pm

I just made a sour rye using the Cook’s Illustrated Almost No Knead method and it’s wonderful. My company raved about it. I used the Whole Wheat recipe and substituted Bob’s Red Mill organic dark rye for the whole wheat flour (5 ounces). I also used 1/4 cup of sourdough starter (purchased from Breadtopia) instead of the instant yeast. Everything else was done the same — I used honey, not sugar as you did. Also I only baked it an additional 10 minutes with the cover off my LaCloche. It got slightly dark but I like it that way. It was fantastic. Thanks for a great website.


Alma D.V. August 20, 2008 at 4:06 pm

PLEASE DON’T USE FLOWER POTS before checking for lead content!

Take it from experience. I just spent a whole week researching this because I was in love with the idea of buying a terra cotta pot at Home Depot with a base for a few bucks and making it my version of the (expensive) Le Coche. Well, I had this question bugging me as to whether it was safe to cook in. Everything on the internet says that UNGLAZED clay is safe. But a friend suggested I call the manufacturer. The employee at Home Depot told me it was a company out of CA called NorCal Pottery. Found them, called them and they said they did sell to HD and that ALL their pots, even unglazed, contained lead. I never told them I was planning on cooking on it, since I figured they would tell me it wasn’t made for it. But I called them because I happened to have a lead test kit at home, and came out basically positive, so I had to call to be sure. So make sure you are absolutely sure of this before you make your precious loaf of bread in a lead pot. :-(.


breadtopia August 15, 2008 at 9:24 am

Hi Coyotewoman,

Here are several links that will take you directly to comments left by others who bake at high altitute…
Baking at High Altitudes
Baking at High Altitudes
Baking at High Altitudes
Baking at High Altitudes
Baking at High Altitudes
Baking at High Altitudes

White whole wheat, honey, molasses – – all worth a try.


coyotewoman August 13, 2008 at 11:10 am

I’m very interested in trying the whole wheat sandwich loaf – any changes recommended for high altitude (7,200 ft) in dry dry Coyote, New Mexico? I’ve used Lahey’s NKB without changes moderate “oven spring” but makes great pizza dough but I want a WW sandwich loaf and the beer intrigues in the recipe me.
Ever tried White whole wheat on this recipe?
Tried any substitutes for sugar like molasses or honey? great videos and website.


Roy Dankman August 12, 2008 at 11:48 am

I was experimenting with the recipe that Malcom Kronby posted on 2-29-08 using a poolish for the first batch and then using a part of the first batch as “old dough” poolish in the second batch.

The first batch was bread flour and white whole wheat. The bread was fine as to looks and crumb, but I thought it was tasteless . I used 150 grams of that batch as the “poolish” for the second batch.

I used bread flour and dark rye pus some fennel seed, caraway seed and some King Arthur rye flavoring. The bread was bake to 204 degrees internal tempature. This bread tasted great, however, the was a crust problem.

When the bread came out of the oven the crust was hard , but when it cooled off the crust was very soft.

Do you have any idea why the crust would get soft as the bread cooled?

The recipe was:

The 150 grams of poolish (old dough), plus
900 grams of flour: ( 600 g of white bread flour and 300 grams dark rye.)
675 grams of water, plus
1 TBS malt or balsamic vinegar, and
1 TBS barley malt extract
1 tsp of instant yeast
1 TBS of sea salt
3 Tb fennel seed
3 Tb caraway seed
1 Tb King Arthur Deli Rye Flavor.


Roy Dankman August 12, 2008 at 11:26 am

I would appreciate your telling us what the brand name is of the convection toaster oven.

The idea of baking out side it great. I live North of Sacramento , Ca and at this time of year 95-100 F is pretty typical. Not heating the kitchen would help with the AC bills.

Eric’s edit: It’s an Emerson, model TOR23. Currently available at Target stores and Target web site.


Jeffrey August 11, 2008 at 12:54 pm

Marilyn B

The Ed Wood book is a soft-cover book, which may explain why it’s not in the lending section of the Library.


Marilyn B. August 11, 2008 at 10:51 am

Eric, great idea to bake outside. My little electric toaster oven is pretty small and they warn you not to try to cook anythng that would be tall enough to touch any of the elements. It might do for a few bagels!

Jeffrey, I located Ed Wood’s book at the library, online, but they tell me it is “not available for request,” whatever that means. Since the library is 25 miles away, it will have to wait till next time I go down to the flatlands and into town. They do not have Glezer’s book in the catalog, but Amazon has it, and many others. I read the customer reviews and there is much interesting disagreement as to whose book has the best directions, the fewest directions, etc. My, my, my!

No, Malcolm, I do not have a barbecue of any kind, but your idea is terrific. I assume you are talking about the kind that has a fold-down lid. The bricks would really turn it into kind of an oven, wouldn’t they? Very clever.

Thank you all for your consideration and suggestions.


Malcolm Kronby August 10, 2008 at 5:44 am

To Marilyn B:

Do you have a gas or propane barbecue ?

In hot weather i use a gas barbecue rather than bake in the house.

I put four bricks – ordinary solid construction bricks – on the grill to protect the clay baker or stone from direct heat.

It works perfectly.



Jeffrey August 9, 2008 at 10:18 pm

My wife bought a counter-top convection oven, but it never occurred to me to use it outside during the summer. Call me Duh-umbo. One thing about small ovens: they act somewhat like La Cloche, in that the small space traps more moisture as it bakes out of the bread. When I do try out the convection oven, I’ll be interested to see if there’s a difference between baking in convection mode and regular mode.

If all you’re looking for is sandwich bread, then just using loaf-pans in the oven, preheated for a shorter period of time, would do fine. I always preferred heavy glass loaf-pans over thin metal ones, but have never used heavy metal pans.

Some thoughts on sourdough (which I have come to prefer over commercially-yeasted breads):

While Dr. Wood’s book is truly a must-have for the care and feeding of sourdough cultures, I find the recipes in Glezer’s _Artisan Baking_ to be easier to follow – more directive, if you will – more detail in the steps to be taken. They make more sense to me.

One of the techniques described in Dr. Wood’s book is “washing” the starter, where a really old starter is rejuvenated by seriously diluting it in water, then feeding it. I’ve used this technique several times to rejuvenate some starter that had been sitting in the refrigerator for about a year, maybe more, without feeding or care. It came right back to life. Also, I bought a mild French starter from Dr. Wood, which I really like. Never had much luck getting my own starter going.

What’s the difference between using a liquid, poolish-style sourdough starter and a firm, Biga-style starter: depends on the book you’re reading. Dr. Wood says the result is pretty much the same; Peter Reinhart in _Crust and Crumb_ says liquid is more sour, while in _Bread Baker’s Apprentice_ says firm is more sour; Maggie Glezer says that firm starters activated and nurtured in cool temperatures are more sour, while warmer more liquid starters are less sour, and that retarding sourdoughs in the refrigerator increases sourness.


breadtopia August 9, 2008 at 4:37 pm

Hi Marilyn,

I’m with you on baking indoors when it’s baking hot outdoors. We’re on propane too. Denyce and I recently purchased a convection toaster oven at Target for about $70 and it actually seems pretty well made (Emerson model TOR23). It’s large enough to fit a 4 quart Dutch oven or a 12″ pizza stone for medium size pizza. Denyce has already baked eggplant lasagna and brownies in it with results as good as a regular oven when used in convection mode. My bread doesn’t know the difference from our oven.

The kicker is that we did all this baking on our outdoor back deck. The oven is very light to carry. I can’t believe we didn’t do this ages ago as we had talked about it casually. Just thought I’d mention it here.

BTW – here’s a little write up on Ed Wood’s book Classic Sourdoughs


Marilyn B. August 9, 2008 at 3:22 pm

A BIG thank you to Jeffrey and Malcolm. Glad to have all those French phrases translated and explained, for one thing, since I know nothing about European breads, never heard of artisan breads before coming upon Breadtopia (still not sure what constitutes “artisan”—big holes, crust you have to cut with a fine hacksaw?).

I might be in the wrong place, because I can hardly lift a cast iron anything and hate the idea of heating the oven to 500 degrees when it’s 100 outside (and the price of propane is tied to the price of oil and gas). I thought not having to knead would be great, but actually I kind of enjoy it. All I really want to do is make sourdough loaves shaped like sandwich bread, so I can make toast with squarish pieces.

But I have enjoyed the conversations on this site, especially the courteous and friendly way in which you all have shared your knowledge and experience. I will definitely look up Ed Wood’s book. Thanks again.

Marilyn B.


breadtopia August 9, 2008 at 1:01 pm

Malcolm’s Reply…

The answer is yes, but….

I usually prepare enough dough for three loaves, keep it refrigerated, and bake as much as I need when I need it.

The amount of poolish for this mix is 150-200 grams, whatever is left from the last batch. This enough for dough to make one loaf, but not, I think, for three.

So I use the poolish with my basic three-loaf mix, which is:

1000 grams of flour
750 (or slightly less) grams of water
1 1/2 teaspoons of instant dry yeas
3 teaspoons of sea salt

The amount of dough for one loaf is 550-600 grams, so after harvesting enough for three loaves, there’s 150-200 grams left over. That’s the next poolish.

The precise amount of water is matter of feel, and is variable depending on the type of flour or flour mix.

Hope this helps.



Jeffrey August 8, 2008 at 9:31 pm

There seems to be some vagueness about terminology on this thread, so I thought I’d throw in some info gleaned from Maggie Glezer’s book _Artisan Baking_

First of all, there are several types of yeasted pre-ferments which are used in kneaded bread making both to improve flavor and strengthen bread structure:
Poolish, Biga, Pate Fermente (aka scrap dough aka old dough), Sponge (aka Levain-leveur), and Mixed Started (aka levain de pate, travail sur rafraichi, or travail mixte).

Poolish is made of flour, lots of water and yeast, and is quite batter-like in consistency; Biga is made of flour, yeast and considerably less water, and is quite stiff. Both are allowed to ferment for a fairly long time before combining with more flour and other ingredients to make the final dough. Neither Poolsih or Biga contain salt, which is added later. Technically speaking, if it contains salt, it isn’t Poolish or Biga, but rather is probably Pate fermente – a scrap of the final dough, containing everything the dough does, including salt.

Neither Sponge or Mixed Starters seem to be used in the Glezer recipes. Sponge may or may not contain salt. Mixed Starter seems to be an actual leavening agent built from a piece of scrap dough, but I can’t be certain. I’m ignoring these two.

Anyway, in the Glezer recipes, whenever a Biga, Poolish or Pate Ferement is used, the final dough also includes additional yeast. That’s probably why they’re called “pre-ferements” rather than “starters” – you can’t rely on them exclusively to leaven the bread. In addition, once they get a little age on them, using them as such would be unreliable, because the kind of yeast will have lost it’s potency. They’d still be good for flavor, just not leavening action.

It’s quite possible that, if you were making bread every day, you could use a piece of dough from yesterday’s batch to start a new dough (a Mixed Starter), it would work – there’d be enough yeast still active to do the job. Otherwise, you’d have to add yeast to make it work well.

Sourdough starters are different. They are usually Poolish-like or Biga-like (with no salt in either style), and are always used to build the leavening agent for the dough, first by “activating” the starter, then adding more flour and water to the activated start to create the leavening for the dough. I keep my sourdough starters fed on a fairly regular basis, whether or not I’m making bread from them. And when I make sourdough, I use what starter I need from my store, and then separately feed the starter. A great rerference work for sourdough is Dr. Ed Wood’s book, Classic Sourdoughs. Dr. Wood uses two styles of starter which he terms “liquid” (Poolish-style) and “Sponge” (Biga-style).


Marilyn B. August 8, 2008 at 4:39 pm

So, Malcolm, do I understand that once you have a poolish going you don’t need to keep babying starter? Or using yeast at all? Excuse me if this has already been asked; I thought I saw such a question, but can’t find it on any of the breadtopia sections. Would poolish work as leaven in oldl-fashioned kneaded bread?
Thank you.
Marilyn B.


ApologiesToTheQue August 6, 2008 at 4:03 am


Awesome site, and thanks so much for this particular video. I’d done the no-knead several times, but I think yesterday’s effort on the ‘almost-no-knead’ came out even better. Very moreish. (photos here

(Also some pizza photos under the food category – might give your recipe a run on the weekend!)


breadtopia August 5, 2008 at 8:47 am

Hey Mary,

Glad things are going well. Now I’m trying to remember how I came up with 5 oz to a cup. I know King Arthur teaches to really fluff up your flour before gently sprinkling it into a measuring cup. Then run a bench knife over the rim of the cup to perfectly level it out. This is great advise. So I just came back from the kitchen were I did just that and the cup weighed 4.5 ounces. The extra .25 ounces could be from the higher humidity of our lovely suffocating weather lately. (we do run a/c, but still…)

So now I’m thinking that the 5 ounces comes from how I usually measure flour when I’m not using a scale, and that’s by dipping my measuring cup directly into the flour canister and shaking it level. Definitely NOT great advice.

I, too, have become a die-hard scale user. :)


Mary August 5, 2008 at 8:16 am

Howdy Eric,

I, too, am making my way through all the recipes/variations on your website. I am achieving great results following your instructions and also suggestions of other readers. I have been converted to a die-hard scale user and am getting excellent/consistent results. I tell you this so you know that my question is strictly for curiosity and not because I am having any problems. Would you tell me how you arrived at the 5 oz. – one cup determination? I notice that King Arthur thinks that 4.25 ounces is a cup. So, I was just wondering how you came to make it 5 oz? It works – it works! So, I’m just asking – – –

Thanks again for a terrific site! Mary


breadtopia July 30, 2008 at 11:10 pm

Hi Marianne,

The amaranth and the millet in the Seeded Sour recipe are both in the whole granular form. Not flour.

It’s one of my all time favorite breads. Good luck with it.


Marianne July 30, 2008 at 7:09 pm

Hi Eric,

I am working my way through your variation recipes and have a question about the Seeded Sour Bread, particularly the amaranth and millet. I found both in our local health food store, amaranth flour and millet flour, also millet in granular form. Does your recipe call for the flour form or the granular form? Does amaranth come in a granular form? Wanted to ask before I bought the wrong thing.

Love my new hobby!



breadtopia July 24, 2008 at 10:40 am

Hi Marilyn,

Now that is one great story! I love it.

btw – the round cloche weighs 8 lbs.


Marilyn B. July 21, 2008 at 8:19 pm

Eric, first, thank you for calling me back the other day. This method is a godsend.Talk about forgiving! Awesome! As I told you, I don’t have a cloche or any form of Dutch oven or even a heavy casserole, and my previous attempts at sourdough were all hockey pucks. I just discovered this site after a friend showed me her fantastic NKB’s. (She has a Dutch oven).She’d got the recipe from Mother Earth News, and that article pointed one to Breadtopia, thank goodness. I wanted to try the sandwich bread version of ANK, but being confused between sourdough vs. regular NKB, I ended up with a hybrid experiment. Used 1/4 cup starter (my own), a combo of white AP flour and whole wheat I ground myself (the 6 oz. I weighed out seemed like too much, so I put some back and made up the difference with white, but don’t ask me what the final ratio was)! Don’t keep beer around, so used water, but did put in both the vinegar and the honey. Put it in the fridge for about 18 hours, certainly not two days, per Rhine’s method, took it out last evening and let it sit covered till I got around to doing something about it today. It rose and got little bubbles, so I sort of punched it down gently and folded it over in the bowl and let it rest. Then I had to wrestle this unruly blob into my buttered ancient aluminum (eek!) bread pan. It kept changing shape! Worried that I was handling it too much, I finally put the loaf pan face down over the blob and inverted the breadboard and all in one neat swoop. Put it in the oven with just the light on for about two hours, when it rose to somewhere near the top of the pan I decided that was enough, heated the oven to 425 and put it back in, turned it down to 350, baked it for about 45 min., didn’t seem quite done, internal temp about 190, put it back in for somewhere between 7 and 10 200. Result: Not the highest loaf, but definitely light–not an anvil! Lovely texture inside, even a couple of those big holes so many of you seem to favor, wonderful fllavor (a little too much, might leave out the vinegar next time), crust a little hard, but I buttered it while hot, hope it will soften. I cut into it after about 45 min. (devil made me do it!). There’s light at the end of the tunnel!


Katerina July 16, 2008 at 9:20 am

I too am obsessed with “almost no-knead bread making” I created my first batch of the ‘traditional – white’ this morning. However, I threw the dry ingredients in a bowl and realized my yeast wasn’t “instant yeast”, but “active dry yeast” and I didn’t proof it in water like I should have. So my question is when I get back home today 10 hours later, do you think my dough will have risen? Or will I have to start all over again? Has anyone else made this mistake?


Carolyn July 15, 2008 at 11:51 am

Since you have a pizza stone, I have a suggestion. Go to the garden dept. of your favorite store (for me it was wal-mart) and buy a plain terra cotta pot that will fit the dimension of your pizza stone. I chose an “azalea pot” which is shorter. Plug the hole with ball of alum. foil. I flatten the ball of foil after insertion so it won’t fall thru. I call this my “frugal cloche”! My only caution is to get a pot wide enough so it goes clear to the edge of the stone — you DON’T want the pot to accidentally sit on the edge of your bread dough. Trust me, I know — it’s one of my funniest stories ever!

I’ve been experimenting with a variety of methods including a dutch oven, terra cotta pots, and no cover plus a tray with water (as described in the book “Artisan Bread in 5-minutes A Day”). My favorite is a terra cotta tray & terra cotta flower pot (above). I had some dough that had set in my fridge for 14 full days, it was beginning to weep. So I divided it into 2 loaves and cooked them both at the same time – one in my dutch oven, the other in the terra cotta tray & pot. The loaf in the terra cotta came out MUCH nicer.

I hope this helps.


Nico July 15, 2008 at 11:21 am

This is an amazing site and I really look forward to completing this recipe! I’ve never made bread before but hope to make a hobby out of it.

Just one question – how necessary is the dutch oven? I don’t have one and I’m wondering what I would be compromising or if it is even possible to complete this recipe w/o one. I do have a cast-iron skillet and one of those pizza-stones that doubles as a bread making surface (also, I have corning-ware that has a lid that’s supposed to be oven-safe, is that an option?). Can I just set the loaf on one of these, or will the effect of not having that extra enclosed space turn the bread for the worse?

Again, congrats on this site, it is awesome!


breadtopia July 6, 2008 at 6:03 am

Hi Eva,

Sounds like you’re pretty close on everything and that you just need to keep doing what you’re doing before you land on what works best for your circumstances. There’s nothing like trial and error to learn quickly and obviously you’re not afraid to try new things.


breadtopia July 6, 2008 at 5:22 am

Hi Elaine,

I’m not sure where the confusion is. If the above recipe isn’t working for you, I guess you could just play around with the quantities until you find what does work for you.


Elaine Wei July 3, 2008 at 9:58 am

Why is your 3 cups of flour only 15 ounces? I thought a standard one cup measures 8 oz. So I started the 3 cups totalling 24 oz. and the dough looked too dry. I rewatched your video, found out the discrepancy, did another dough using 15 oz. only and the dough looked too watery. Results: the one with 24 oz. looked fabulous. the 15 oz. one was quite flat like a disc.
(Your recipe measurement for liquids is based on 1 cup=8 oz.)
Am I missing something?


Eva June 30, 2008 at 11:44 am

Hi Eric,
My first loaf I baked at 410F for 30 Min with lid and 25 Min without the lid. The crust was also very hard in the beginning and the center was very moist and “doughy”. I had cut into the freshly baked bread while it was barely cool. (Needed “instant” gratification :) )

My second loaf ( 1 1/2 recipes) I baked at 425F for 35 Min with the lid and 30 Min uncovered. The crust was darker and very hard and the center was still moist. Again, I had cut into the loaf early.

My third loaf ( double the recipe ; I like this quantity very much) I baked – as described above – at 450F for 45 Min with lid and 50 Min uncovered. This time the crust was to thick and to hard and it was close to burning, I guess.

The crust on my frist loaf tasted and looked the best.

Could it be that the center of the bread would dry out sufficiently if I left it uncut for a day?

The reason why I increased the time and temp is that since I moved to this new location ( only about 40 Min away from the old one) a few years ago and had a new oven, that I have to increase my baking times very much for just about everything. It’s quite frustrating since I had not had any problems for the previous 30+ years of baking in general. (In those days I tried to bake Potatobread and it always came out to heavy) Yes, we did exchange the new oven and still have the problem!!

I’ll keep trying; just hope that in the lenghty process we do not gain excessive weight :).

Do you think that I should keep the water in the oven while baking and should I brush the loaf with warm water prior to baking? So far I had just dusted the loaf with flour and scored the top.

Thanks again for your response and suggestion.


breadtopia June 30, 2008 at 9:26 am

Hi Eva,

I could be wrong here, (it wouldn’t be the first time ;), but that seems like too much time to be baking your bread and might account for the hard crust. Since 200 degrees internal temperature should be fine, maybe you can cut back some on the total time and temp and still get good results. May be worth a try anyway.

Thanks for the nice post and recipe variation.


Eva June 29, 2008 at 8:55 am

Thank you for your reply Eric. Will probably try a sandwich loaf as soon as we have eaten the Ryebread.
For my last loaf I used double the recipe in a 5 qt “Lodge Logic” Dutch oven. The loaf gives nicer/bigger slices of bread. Only trouble was, that I had problems reaching the internal temp. of 210F and the crust turned too dark and is tasting too sharp. I had pre-heated the pot at 500F. Baked with the lid on at 450F for 45 Min. then 40 Min uncovered in the pot and another 10 Min uncovered out of the pot. I was not sure if it would have been a good idea to leave the loaf inside the turned off oven to reach a higher internal temp.
My double recipe for “Almost No Knead Bread”
1 1/2 cups Rye
1 1/2 cups 10 Grain
3 cups unbleached Breadflour
1/2 t. Instant yeast
3 t. salt ( I use a little less)
14 oz warm Water
6 oz Beer ( I used 7 oz to empty the bottle)
2 T white vinegar

I let the dough rise over-night; probably about 14 hours or so. For kneading I like to use a little “very light olive oil” on my hands. That way the dough does not stick too much and I wont be tempted to use too much flour. I also slightly oil the whole loaf before placing it on oiled Parchment Paper (in a bowl) and let it rise another two hours.
For baking I also put a pan with very hot water in the oven. I am not sure if it serves any purpose while baking the loaf with the lid on the pot??

The bread tastes super good ( without anything on it) and my husband likes it also.
I just can’t make myself wait a day or so before cutting into the loaf. The crust is extremely hard the first day; but, it softens more and more as the days go by. I cut the loaf in half. Double bag each loaf in zip-lock bags and I freeze one half.

Can’t wait to try your Parmesan-Olive Bread.

Thanks for having such a wonderful site and sharing your ideas with us


breadtopia June 29, 2008 at 4:33 am

Hi Eva,

I use a 9 x 5 pan for that one.

200 degrees should be fine. How did the bread turn out?


Eva June 28, 2008 at 9:39 pm

Hi Eric,
could you please let me know the measurements of your loaf pan ( for the Almost No Knead Sandwich version). I have all different size pans and don’t want to use anything too large or too small.
Also, I don’t seem to be able to get the internal temp. of my WholeWheat(+Rye) Recipe past the 200 degrees mark (should be 210?).
I really enjoy all your postings and hope to perfect this breadbaking soon :)
Thank you, Eva


breadtopia June 27, 2008 at 8:20 am

Hi Beatrix. Thanks for the follow up. That’s particularly interesting about your mistake on the flour switch. It’s those “mistakes” that often lead to nice discoveries. I’ve added a note to the above instructions mentioning your finding. A lot of people would rather use more whole wheat flour without risking the proverbial “door stop” loaves.


Beatrix June 27, 2008 at 7:34 am

(follow-up to June 18th)

Hi Eric,

I baked the whole wheat bread without sugar and it came out very well. By mistake I reversed the amount of whole wheat to bread flour and used 2 cups whole wheat and 1 cup bread flour and it still came out nice and light. I guess the sugar is not necessary, it just depends what flavour you want.
Thanks for your help.



Jane December 21, 2011 at 7:56 am

This is especially nice to know as I want to make whole wheat bread but don’t like it sweet. I’ll plan to lessen or eliminate the honey and not worry too much about it!


breadtopia June 24, 2008 at 7:15 pm

That’s great, Marianne.

It’s a nice addiction fortunately!


Marianne June 24, 2008 at 6:36 pm

Dear Eric

I am sooo excited! I challenged myself to learn to bake artisan bread and am so pleased with the results. My order from Breadtopia arrived yesterday, my treat to myself for my upcoming 70th birthday. Many thanks for the most informative videos, Eric. I also want to thank Bruce, my brother in law and a great baker, who has been my mentor and told me about Breadtopia.

My creative instincts are at work and I look forward to enjoying my new hobby, or is it becoming an addiction?

Happy baking,


breadtopia June 18, 2008 at 1:21 pm

Hi Beatrix,

In a recent baking of the whole wheat almost no knead bread, I accidentally left out the sugar and it came out fine. Of course the bread didn’t have the slight sweetness to it (that I kinda like in this recipe), but otherwise it performed pretty much the same as far as I could tell. It’s possible the crust didn’t brown up as much as if I had remembered the sugar, but the difference was slight and inconsequential anyway.

So, skip the sugar, but please peek back in and let us know how it went for you.


Beatrix June 18, 2008 at 1:08 pm

Hi Eric,

thanks for getting me back into bread baking! What a wonderful and helpful site!

So far I have had success with the NYT yeast NK method, but my sourdough attempts have been disasters, not even fit to give to the squirrels. Now I want to try the Almost NK method, saving myself the fight with the sourdough in the current heat and humidity.

I have a question with regard to the whole wheat version of the ANK. The recipe calls for honey. Does the bread taste sweet because of it? Do I really need to include sugar or honey? I don’t like sweet bread and the NYT NK method doesn’t call for sugar in the whole wheat recipe. Also, my traditional bread recipes never call for sugar. I don’t want to cause failure by leaving out the sugar, but I also don’t want to end up with a bread I don’t like.

Thanks for your help! Great site!

Best, Beatrix


Karil June 9, 2008 at 5:34 am

Hi Sharon
I soak wheatberries overnight (or about 12 hours), rinse them in cool water and sprout them for about two days (out of direct sunlight), until about a millimeter or so of the tiny sprout begins to show. While they are sprouting, rinse them in cool water twice a day and allow them to drain while sprouting. From this point on they are ready to use in dough, salad, whatever.You can even chop them up a bit. You can sprout other seeds or grains, too. Greetings, Karil


breadtopia June 9, 2008 at 3:43 am

You can mix some in with your bread dough before a long proofing period so they have time to absorb some moisture.


Sharon Cox June 7, 2008 at 11:01 pm

I’ve never cooked wheat berries. How do you go about doing that?


Dale June 6, 2008 at 6:08 pm

This reply is to June’s post dated may 26, 2008:

I am trying your method of the baguette NK recipe tomorrow. I live outside of New Orleans and buy at least 1 loaf of good New Orleans French bread every week.

NOONE has the recipe to this wonderful delicate french bread, light, airy, with a flaky crust Many have tried to duplicate it. My first few attempts came out more like baseball bats, lol.

Anyway, your desciption of light and airy baguettes is worth me trying it.

Will let you know how they came out.



breadtopia May 27, 2008 at 4:53 am

Thanks Malcolm. Typo corrected.


Malcolm Kronby May 27, 2008 at 4:30 am

Yeast-risen Corn Bread (Correction)

Just noticed a typo in the recipe posted on Feb. 29, 2008. The amount of water was wrongly stated to be 275 g.

These are the correct proportions for one loaf:

240 g unbleached white flour
100 g cornmeal
2 tsp vital wheat gluten
260 g water
1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt


June May 26, 2008 at 6:43 pm

I just performed 2 experiments using the NK dough to make baguettes and it worked! The first batch I let the dough rise undisturbed for 18 hours, split the dough into 2 baguette-ish shapes and let them rise on flour-covered napkins, since I have no couche. After their rise I turned them onto my 2-baguette pan and popped them into the oven. I spritzed the loaves and the oven liberally with water several times. I ended up with 2 decent loaves with great color, crust, and crumb- airy and light. Today I used the same dough but twice during its rise I plopped it out on the counter and did the envelope fold. It grew up like crazy after the first fold so I did it again- I think it rose even faster after that! Once again I baked them in the baguette pan- and there was definitely more mass than the first batch. Hmmmm. I also slashed (or rather, cut with a pair of kitchen shears) and once again did the steam-making thing. The second batch is a full 25% larger than the first batch. Go figure. Of course on most days I am not here to give the bread 2 or 3 folds during its rise, but it sure made a difference in the final product. And the second batch was a different color than the first- more tannish than white.
They both taste great- I just made hot sammies with pieces of each- Italian beef with caramelized onions and au jus. The crust held up well with the juicy meat- no leak-throughs.
Next I will try making buns with the dough- or how about focaccia?? Stay tuned…



Malcolm Kronby May 23, 2008 at 10:00 am

Excuse the delayed reply. I’ve been out of the country for the past three weeks.


Thanks for your kind comments.

Beth in UT:

Freezing the dough is OK.

Recalculation of Recipe:

I’ve been making enough dough for three loaves, and leaving it refrigerated until ready to use, as set out in previous posts: see, for example Feb. 29, 2008.

These quantities are easier to work with:

Poolish, say 100 g rye flour, 100 g water, 1 tsp instant yeast

1000 g flour, whatever you like, but adding 1 tbs of vital wheat gluten for every 200 g of low-gluten flour such as rye or spelt or whole-wheat. My basic mix is 600 g of unbleached stone-ground organic white flour, and 400 g of Robin Hood MultiGrain, a Canadian flour that behaves like any bread flour and thus needs no extra gluten.

750 g water. This is slightly variable depending on the protein content of the flour and ambient humidity, so I usually start with 700 g and add more as needed until all the dry flour is hydrated.

2 tsp instant yeast

3 tsp sea salt

Optional: vinegar and malt mix; see Feb. 29 post

Mix up the dough, and refrigerate until needed. Then, you can cut off 550 g at a time, the amount amount for one good-sized loaf (550 g is just about 1 1/4 pounds).

After making three loaves, you should have about 200 g of dough left over. That becomes the poolish for your next batch.




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