No-Knead Bread Recipe

Le Pain qu’on ne pétrit pas

Complete fiascoes are few and far between in my kitchen. I’m not sure whom to thank for this — my lucky star, my karma, my mom? — but the fact is that the things I cook or bake very rarely end up in the trash. I have disappointments of course, dishes that turn out a bit meh despite my high hopes, but nothing quite as débâcle-like as when I tried my hand at the recipe everyone has been raving about lately, stressing how laughably easy and forgiving it is: Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread.

As laughably easy and forgiving as it may be, it did take me three trials and three days to get it to work. What went wrong, you ask?

Problem number one: the consistency of the dough. The New York Times recipe gave the amount of flour in cups: this introduces a considerable bias depending on how one measures (spooning vs. scooping), a bias that is further multiplied by the fact that the recipe calls for three cups of flour. I used the generally accepted volume-to-weight conversion for flour (one cup = 120 grams), and this produced a dough that was so soupy — more like a batter, really — I found it impossible to work with as instructed. This problem was solved by turning to C&Z readers and then bread experts, who had kindly calculated the right weight of flour based on the target hydration of the dough.

Problem number two, my stupid fault entirely. I own a sugar thermometer, an oven thermometer, and a medical thermometer, but I don’t own a thermometer that will measure the temperature of a room and I have no notion whatsoever of how warm my apartment is. So when the recipe said, “warm room temperature, about 70°F,” I decided that it meant, “on top of the radiator.” The unfortunate consequence of this — and it took me two failed attempts but just one question to Maxence to realize my blunder — was that the dough overproofed like mad. By the time I was supposed to fold it and gather it into a ball (try shaping soup into a ball, it’s fun), its peak state of proofing was a distant memory: it played dead during the second rise, and baked into a gummy pancake so sorry-looking that even Parisian pigeons would have turned their beak up, and those guys will eat anything.

Embitter or discourage me these failures did not. Judging by the number of happy customers it had garnered, the recipe had to have something going for it, and by Toutatis I was determined to catch the magic by its fluttering wings and slam it down on my kitchen counter. So on day three I prepared a new loaf, and this one turned out to be so astonishingly successful it was worth every single minute and every single gram of flour sacrificed in the process.

My third loaf was baked late on Sunday evening in my chick yellow Coquelle, and this gave it a nice shape not unlike that of the Scrameustache’s space shuttle.

Our neighbors happened to drop by for a drink and a chat just as I was taking it out of the oven (I suspect they just followed the smell from the landing); we murmured words of support to one another during the forty-five excruciating minutes it took for the bread to cool down properly. And when the time had finally come for me to slice it and we each tried a few bites (with and without demi-sel butter), I just about fainted from the combination of joy, pride, and sensory bliss.

A golden crust of ideal thickness and consistency, offering just the right amount of crisp ridges and chewy valleys, a crumb so supple and fleshy it almost felt alive, and a subtle complexity of scent and flavor that wasn’t so assertive as to overwhelm what you’d serve the bread with — this was a loaf I would be more than willing to pay good money for at the boulangerie. By the following morning it had developed the faintest hint of a hazelnut smell — this went remarkably well with a good spread of macadamia butter — and it kept very well for the two days it took us to munch our way through it.

I haven’t yet had time to start a fourth loaf, but I plan to sometime over the weekend. I feel reasonably confident about it (whichever way you look at it, there is no way my one successful loaf in three could have been beginner’s luck), and I am curious to try using a bit of chestnut flour this time and to follow Sam Fromartz’s advice to set 1/4 cup of the dough aside, let it develop in the fridge for two days, and use it for extra flavor in the next loaf.

No-Knead Bread

No-Knead Bread Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 14 hours

One loaf.

No-Knead Bread Recipe

Ingredients

  • 470 grams (16 1/2 ounces) bread flour (I used a mix of 300 grams T65 flour + 170 grams organic T110 flour)
  • 10 grams (1/3 ounce) salt (I used coarse grey salt from Guérande)
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (I used Francine Levure Boulangère instantanée "Spéciale Pain")
  • 350 grams (12 1/3 ounces) water, at room temperature
  • Cornmeal or extra flour for dusting

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and yeast. Pour in the water, and mix with your hand or a wooden spoon until combined. The dough should feel wetter than ordinary bread doughs, but it should come together into a shaggy ball. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature (about 20°C or 70°F) for 12 to 18 hours (some extend that time to 20 or even 24 hours with good results). The dough is ready when it has roughly doubled in size and the surface is covered with little bubbles. When you tip the bowl gently to one side, the dough should slide slowly and have a stringy consistency.
  2. Turn the dough out on a well-floured surface. Pull gently on both sides and gather the flaps one over the other to fold the dough in three. Give it a quarter of a turn and fold it in three again. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 15 minutes as you clean the mixing-bowl and grease it lightly. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in the greased mixing-bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for another 2 hours.
  3. Place a medium cast-iron pot in the oven (use a pot with a handle that can take the heat without melting) and preheat to 230°C (450°F) at least 30 minutes before baking. When the dough has finished its second rise, remove the pot from the oven (does anyone need to be reminded that hot oven = hot pot?), remove the lid (hot pot = hot lid), and sprinkle flour or cornmeal over the bottom of the pot. Transfer the dough into the pot, sprinkle the top with flour or cornmeal, cover with the lid, and return to the oven.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid, remove the (hot) lid, and bake for another 15 minutes, until beautiful and golden and irresistible. Transfer to a rack to cool for about 45 minutes before slicing (the water content needs to settle evenly throughout the loaf: if you slice it too soon, the crumb may be rubbery).

Notes

  • Adapted from a recipe by Jim Lahey written up by Mark Bittman in the New York Times on November 8, 2006.
  • Do watch the accompanying video.
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  • http://inmolaraan.blogspot.com the chocolate lady (eve)

    Delightful!

    This is very like what happened to me. I first assumed four ounces per cup of flour, and my apartment is much warmer than 70F. If not for hosts of valiant food bloggers, I would not have tried again (I love food bloggers).
    I love your courage in the face of smelly soupy dough. I am also glad I was not the only onewho needed a few tried to get this bread right.

  • http://mitainecarlate.canalblog.com Ninnie

    Déjà essayé et adopté!

  • C

    Based on your observations, how do you think the dough would fare baked on a pizza stone instead of in the pot? I haven’t tried this recipe yet because I don’t own an oven-safe pot and can’t justify buying one just for this purpose. Being able to bake perfect bread might be worth it though!

  • Piper

    I have been meaning to try this recipe for awhile and now will definitely try your version (thanks to all the early adapters who will allow me to learn from their mishaps!) I also just had to mention that I got a chuckle out of the “hot oven=hot pot” and “hot oven=hot lid” annotations…I have lost count of the number of times I have forgotten that crucial fact when reaching for the cast iron pot in the oven…

  • Elizabeth

    Yeah!!!!!! It hadn’t occured to me that temperature would be a problem; if without, do put a digital probe thermometer on your list since it’s pretty good at gauging your environment’s temperature and not just the internal temperature of the fully baked loaf. During my one and only execution of the recipe, I used the top of the refrigerator and had either the oven on or something in the stockpot to keep my kitchen warm. So glad you persevered and found online resources of as much use as your beloved Staub.

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    C – Since the dough is very soft, I would worry that a pizza stone would allow it to spread far too much before the oven spring happens, thus resulting in a very flat loaf. Additionally, the bread needs to start its baking in a closed dish to develop a good crust.

    I agree that buying any tool for just one recipe is difficult to justify, but a cast-iron pot is a great investement. It does a ton of other things perfectly (soups, stews, roasted poultry, etc.) and will last several lifetimes. I personally have two, and use both of them several times a week.

  • http://achickenineverygrannycart.wordpress.com/ ann

    I went out and bought a sporty, Ferrari red Emile Henry tuscan clay pot to make my bread, and I have to say, it was worth every dollar over $100 that I spent!
    I justify it this way: The flour and yeast cost $8 and will make approximately 10 loaves. A boule at my favorite bakery costs about $4 so, I only have to make around 30 loaves to make my money back.
    I’ve done 2 (3 if you count the one destroyed by the FDNY) so only 27 to go.
    I think i can do that!
    so C, what I think we’re all saying is that, it’s a good investment… just think of the bread and roasted chickens to come!

  • http://www.xanga.com/chef_kayenne kayenne

    i was just laughing! your account is just so funny! oh well, glad it worked out for you! good luck on the fourth loaf! how about mixing in a handful of chopped nuts with the last rise?

  • http://blue-kitchen.com Terry B

    Clotilde, your Chick Yellow Coquelle looks wonderfully retro. We’re HUGE fans of another French cookware maker, Staub. We got a large, blue La Cocotte oval roasting pan a couple of years ago. It cooks food beautifully and cleans up much easier than the Le Creuset pots I’ve worked with in the past. And they are gorgeous!

  • cc

    How funny you decided to post about Jim Lahey’s bread–I just happened to give this recipe to my mother over the phone yesterday. She’s been itching to try her hand at baking a whole loaf of bread since she made her first sucessful batch of dinner rolls for Thanksgiving. I’ll make sure to read her your account, she’ll get a kick out of it.

  • Beth

    Congratulations on your successful loaf! I made bread from the same recipe for Thanksgiving, and got spectacular results after very little attention. Re: proofing temperatures, I have found that an unheated oven with the light on (or a vigorous pilot light) work well. I used to have a light bulb socket wired onto the end of a power cord so I could leave a light in the oven. Unfortunately, my oven was pre-occupied this Thanksgiving and the dough was evicted to a colder home, but the bread was still impressive!

    Re: the pizza stone question, I don’t think it will work to develop that fantastic crust (even if you could persuade the dough to stay on it). The article seemed to say that the closed pot helped generate and capture the steam required for the crust. However, although prices for the traditional enamelware like Le Creuset have become stratospheric, there are now (at least in the US) some excellent imitations for much less. If you do pick one up, you can make it earn its keep by starting to braise things in it :-)

    Beth

  • http://www.whatgeekseat.com Vanessa

    Clotilde, you are so valiant for persevering. I tried the Jim Lahey method after I read it in the NY Times. I didn’t wait for others, I just plowed into it and failed so miserably. My experience was exactly like your first scenario. I’ve since gone back to my tried and true technique with absolutely no regrets. I love your blog, thanks for writing so well.

  • Noknok

    I’ve happily made this 2x now, and have a few suggestions:

    1) Even with the correct hydration, this dough is really sticky. So, when you turn the 18-hour dough out onto a floured surface, line that surface first with parchment paper to keep everything from making a super mess in your kitchen.

    2) Bran flour works wonderfully well to line the floured towel on the second rise, and gives the finished dough a nice finish.

    3) Try mixing in rosemary before the first 18-hour rise; and fold in olives before the second rise. It is divine!

  • nikki

    I am sorry you had trouble, but also so relieved to hear of your challenges with this recipe – they said a 6 year old could do it, but I too had soup. Twice. Meanwhile, a friend has made it over and over and at last report, was adding figs and anise. I’m waiting for the weekend and tackling it again, until I succeed! And then we’re going to make some chocolate bliss, too, our xocopili just arrived….

  • http://www.estouest.blog.lemonde.fr estouest

    gosh! what an adventure, well done! I will try this around Christmas, when I have three days free in a row.

  • Lynn

    I had EXACTLY the same problem with soupy dough, and just about threw it out before the second rise. Good thing I didn’t – the crust was amazing – I plan to make it again just for that. I’ll try waiting 45 minutes for it to cool as well – the crumb is rubbery if you don’t wait.

  • Veron

    Bravo Clotilde, the bread is definitely worth it. I’m making it again this weekend.

  • a devoted reader

    Clothide, you are deservedly known as the most fabulous food blogger in the world. Long may you write – your posts are always fantastic, but this is really a gem. I love your style!

  • cocoaloco

    Loaf #4: Now in the oven and the entire house smells fantastic — perfect ambience for the winter storm soon to arrive. For this loaf, I used bread flour and a bit of sourdough starter given by a friend. Measurements were not very exact, but I knew the consistency of dough that was desired and I just added until it felt right. This morning I thought it had over proofed, but I added some flour and it rose yet more. It looks nice and tall baking in the oven.
    My experiences:
    Loaf #1: A little flat, probably owing to the fact that I used King Arthur whole wheat flour.

    Loaf #2: Perfect. Used King Arthur all purpose flour. I used half the loaf to make a yummy chestnut-mushroom stuffing for Thanksgiving.

    Loaf #3: I used the dough for a beautiful foccacia. Pressed it out flat on a sheet and brushed liberally with olive oil, rosemary and sea salt. Next time a pizza.

  • http://www.winosandfoodies.typepad.com barbara

    Thanks for providing the exact measurements. Although mine took so long to rise it did taste fantastic. I’m not sure when I’ll make it again. I like it with butter and I just know I would get so fat so quickly if I eat it too often.

  • Julia

    I’ve had a great time following this recipe since it came out in the Times. I love the crumb and crust but the taste seemed somewhat bland until I realized that I miss the tang that a starter imparts. When I touched on your comment about reserving a quarter of the dough to incorporate in a future loaf, it occurred to me that this might be the way of adding the tang.

    My question is at what point does one reserve the dough: before the initial long rising or right after it?

  • Betsy

    Sadly, yes, I did need to be reminded that a hot pot looks exactly like a cold pot. The blister is just going away now.

    However, the bread was delicious. And I’ve used 1/3 whole wheat or graham flour, with delicious results – a whole-wheat loaf that is springy and light, instead of a stolidly good-for-you doorstop!

  • http://www.serriste.de/foodblog Anne

    Okay, this is it! I must try the no-knead bread.

    I have heard so much about it, but this entry convinced me. Too bad the dough needs to rise for 12 to 18 hours, because I can be so impatient when it comes to cooking and baking.

    And thank you so much for European measurements. Now I don’t even need to fiddle with conversions.

  • Judy

    Hi, Clothilde, and congratulations on your success with this great loaf!

    I suggest you take a look at Rose Levy Beranbaum’s blog,Real Baking with Rose, in the entry where she made this loaf: The entry is called holy bread.

    She fixed the “soupy dough” problem and, as always, is most generous in sharing what she knows. And frankly, what Rose doesn’t know about baking isn’t worth knowing.

    I love your blog, and can’t wait for your book (already pre-ordered!)

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Terry B – I’m with you, my other cocotte is a Staub!

    Julia – Do note that it is 1/4 cup of the dough that you should retain (not a quarter of the dough), and I believe you should retain it before the first (long) rise. Sam also suggests that if you don’t use it within two days, you should “feed” it by adding flour and water to double its size.

    Judy – Thank you! If you look at the links behind “bread experts” in my account above, you’ll see that Rose’s post is indeed one of the resources I turned to. I should get her book though!

  • http://amyspickles.wordpress.com/ Amy

    I made the bread for the first time three days ago and I think I was lucky because it worked out on the first try. I’m now trying a loaf that is half whole wheat, so I had to adjust the hydration level. I’m hoping it turns out as well.

    I still can’t believe that I made bread that was that good.

  • http://www.cforcooking.com Jeff

    Man…all the cool kids are making this!

  • http://www.gottula.com Sharon

    Hi Clotilde, Alton Brown has a great method for proofing if your appt. is too cold. He uses a heating pad underneath the bowl, I can’t remember if he had a towel between or not. My house is extremely cold in the winter and I have yet to try it, but, I might with this recipe.

  • http://www.blueVicar.com blueVicar

    Sounds great…even if you did have to “try and try again”…but those efforts make the best stories!

    Meilleurs voeux!

  • Annie Nielsen

    Clothilde,

    This recipe has really created quite a buzz on Craigslist.com; an individual going by stevieBcanyon successful made it and a cheese version with wonderful photos. Thank you for give weight measurements. I haven’t been able to bake any other way since purchasing my kitchen scale!

  • http://pensivefrog.com Megan

    And I thought I was the only one who didn’t like this recipe! I’ve been baking since I was knee-high and there are so many recipes better than this one.

  • Jennifer

    Merci Clotilde!!! I tried this recipe, myself, after the NYT published it. Disaster, much like yours. Soup, soup, soup. No rising. Disaster. And I sacrificed the handle on my Le Creuset cocotte in the process. (I now know that when Mark Bittman wrote “an old Le Creuset,” he wasn”t being cute, just typically Bittman-esque vague. The older Le Creusets have a handle that can handle temperatures above 400. Mine, circa 2000, cannot.) Bittman”s recipe was a mess—and in contradiction to the proportions offered by Jim Lehey in his video on the NYT website. I, like you, rarely have un-savable kitchen catastrophes, and I was not pleased.

    I have yet to find the time to try the recipe again. Now, thanks to your research and careful measurements, I can make a better informed attempt. Merci, merci, merci.

  • Eileen

    In the recipe I printed off, it called for 1 5/8 cups water. In the video, Jim Lahey said 1 1/2 cups water. What I do is measure out my water, but add sparingly until I reach the “shaggy mass” mentioned in the recipe. Have also added fresh rosemary and nicoise olives (in the first rise), and am anxious to continue experimenting with flours, herbs, etc. I have been making no-knead baguettes for years. 7 cups King Arthur Unbleached flour, 1 T. kosher salt, to which is added 1 T. yeast and 1 T. sugar proofed in 2 cups warm water. Mix in an additional 1 cup (appromimately) warm water. Cover bowl and let rise 2 hours. I use double, Matfer black finish, baguette pans (no perferations – dough is too damp), oiled, or sprayed with PAM. After first rise, fill 5 of the individual pans with the dough (it helps to dip hands in a cup of cold water during this process) and let rise, uncovered, another 30 minutes. At that point, place in a pre-heated 425 degree oven for 25 minutes (450 degrees if pans are not black). They freeze beautifully. It is necessary to reheat in the oven whether frozen or not before eating because of the high moisture content. I have friends begging me for these baguettes. Cubed bread, sauteed in Nicholas Alziari olive oil and finished with a sprinking of sea salt, makes incredible croutons for my salads of greens with poached eggs and bacon.

  • miriam

    hi, I don’t have a cast iron pot (I’ll invest in one if this works out…) is there anything I can use instead?

  • liz

    you know, this came out perfectly for me the first time, and i was totally lax about everything. i didn’t measure my flour very carefully at all–i suspect i used a bit too much, because i didn’t get the pancake batter effect. i also upped the salt and added a teaspoon of sugar. but it was great. i just made a cinnamon-oatmeal-raisin version today.

  • http://foodandpaper.blogspot.com sarah miller

    There have been many no knead bread trials at the Miller house in recent weeks; and, although some loaves have certainly been better than others, no loaf has gone uneaten, or even unenjoyed, and that has completely won me over to this recipe.
    I’ve found, first of all, that my flour measurements are never uniform. I haven’t yet made the baking scale committment, and my eye-balled flour measurements- whether spooned in or scooped and leveled off-are never quite the same.
    On top of that, I have learned that not all flours are created equal. The fancier, non-bleached, non-processed flours tend to take up a bit more space in the measuring cup…unless I am hallucinating. Am I?
    So, after 6 or so loaves of this bread, I’ve decided to just go with the water and flour ratio that seems right: wet, yes, but not runny…and certainly not dry: no excess flour should remain at the bottom of the mixing bowl.
    I’ve used an aluminum dutch oven with a glass lid as well as a cast iron, slightly cheaper version of Le Creuset. Both worked.
    I’ve compared rise times from 6 hours to 26 hours. If you use a rapid rise yeast, six hours will produce a pretty good loaf, with a better texture than any other homeade bread I’ve tried. The longest aged loaves were more flavorful, with the slight taste of sourdough.
    And I’ve come to the conclusion that the warmer rising environment, the better fot this bread. So I’ve been sitting it right by my heating grate…and it seems to like it there.
    I posted some initial results here. Seeing as I can’t stop making this breasd, further emendations will no doubt occur. In the meantime, I’m in a carbohydrate state of bliss.

  • zoe

    Hello! Some questions:
    1. which is better: le creuset or chasseur (and why?)
    2. how would daggy ole pyrex hold up in this recipe?
    thanks for your time.
    Zoe

  • http://merp.wordpress.com merp

    We’ve been eating this bread non-stop since the NYT article came out! My boyfriend’s the baker in this case, and it’s come out amazing every time (though he is always less than satisfied – a perfectionist). Like cocoaloco, we’ve found that whole wheat makes a flatter, denser loaf – but still delicious – you just have to expect that result.

    As for pots, we (alas) don’t have a creuset pot, either. He uses a cast iron skillet with a glass lid, or a pyrex casserole dish. Zoe – pyrex works just fine.

    I don’t think a pizza stone would work at all (re: C’s comment) because one reason the dough is so wet is so that you actually steam the loaf (necessarily with the lid on) to create that crusty crust, then take the lid off for the last few minutes to brown.

    He leaves the bread to rise in an unheated oven with pilot light, which seems to be just the right temp.

    He’s made variations with garlic, olives and rosemary, and experimented with the ratio between whole wheat (we use a fluffier kind called “golden buffalo” – don’t know where it comes from) and white flour. Just mixing chopped garlic in with the dough at the beginning works very well – in the end, it’s roasted garlic.

    Good luck and keep trying! It is SO worth it!

  • http://bloatedbelly.typepad.com Lewis

    This recipe (Bittman’s version) worked great first time out for me, too, yesterday. Kinda wondered about the mass at first, but just trusted it and went with it, and my kitchen, through some miracle with the cold weather and my drafty back door, stayed right around 70 degrees F for the rising. Also let that first rise go to 18 hours, and the second about three. And a-men for the ol’ cast-iron pot. From leg o’ lamb to bread–best tool in the shed. Only mine ain’t so old. Picked up a nice heavy one with a cast-iron handle at IKEA, of all places, for about 60 bucks U.S. I enjoy your blog!

  • Sarah

    I’ve been making the no-knead bread since the article came out (I can’t believe I actually got the NYT that day… I almost never get the paper!) and it’s been great every single time. My only complaint has been that it’s too big for my knife to cut, but I think i can blame that on my knife and on the width of my beautiful discontinued-blue le creuset. :)

    I wonder, though, has anyone put this in a loaf pan? Nothing I’ve read so far has mentioned that. It probably would need to be in a cloche for the steam, but I still wonder.

  • Expat

    Clotilde:

    When you say to feed the reserved 1/4 cup of dough and feed it until double its size, is that double in weight or just eye-balled?

    I assume it’s equal amounts of flour and water, also?

    Sorry for the dumb questions! I’m not at all familiar with doing a sourdough procedure, but would like to try this.

  • http://www.kattebelletje.com kattebelletje

    Hi, I’ve made the no-knead bread now for 5 times. The first time was a disaster because it didn’t rise (the yeast was old), the second time I tried it in a Creuset pan of too small a size, using a cast-iron pan as lid, because I was afraid I’d ruin my Creuset lid, so the bread turned out to be rather high and not as airy as it could have been. The third and consecutive times I’ve baked the bread in a large cast-iron wok with an aluminium wok-lid (I took off the wooden grip beforehand), which has worked very well for me. The bread is a little bit of an UFO shape, but once sliced, it is OK and the crust is fabulous. Check out my photos on Flickr for all attemps: no-knead bread.

  • http://www.aminglingoftastes.com Julie

    Thank you for posting about this recipe and for doing it in grams! I love using my kitchen scale, and American recipes have been driving me crazy since I started weighing ingredients.

  • Chris

    I’ve been making this bread very successfully with half hard whole wheat and half all purpose, with excellent results. I reduced the water to 1 1/2 cups because on the first effort the crumb of my bread was still a bit moist even when fully baked. Now that I’ve figured out “hydration” thanks to C&Z, I’ll try to be a bit more scientific about the flour/liquid proportions.

  • roaldo

    Hi All,

    Wanted to try this recipe when I saw it in the Times but I don’t own a pot anything like a Le Creuset. So I ran down to the Salvation Army and for 2 bucks I found one of these Romertopf dealie-puppies.

    Works great. Three times. Fabulous bread!

  • http://inpraiseofsardines.typepad.com/blogs/ Brett

    For all you fans of no knead bread, Mark Bittman published a follow up article in today’s NYTimes (registration required).

  • http://www.devletsah.com Devletşah

    There is the link in NY Times.

  • Lynn in Tucson

    Clotilde et C – The second time I baked this bread I used my bread cloche; I let the bread rise on the base (like a pizza stone) and I preheated the bell-shaped top. It worked beautifully. The dough wasn’t large enough that it spread all the way to the sides and I wasn’t dumping soupy dough into a very hot pot. I do think the key is being able to put a lid on it….

  • Reball517

    I’ve been making this bread every weekend since the recipe came out – I get home from work on Friday, pour my weekend glass of wine, then mix up the batter – I bake it on Sat. – whenever. I also just leave on the counter – which is probably on the cool side. Has worked great every time. I haven’t been using the “instant” yeast that was called for in the recipe, because I wasn’t sure what that was, so I just dissolve a 1/4 tsp. regular yeast in a little water and this has worked out fine. I also just put it back in the bowl(with a very light oiling) for the second rise – I wanted to put it in a metal baquette pan, which I then covered in tin foil. Again, worked great.

  • http://chokorate.wordpress.com Chokorate

    I’ve been wanting to try this no-knead wonder recipe, but I’ve decided to do it AFTER trying Reinhart’s Pain a l’Ancienne… but your post might have convinced me to try this one first!!

    I have also been wondering about the cup-weight ratio (though I didn’t think it would make THAT much of a difference)… I’m glad someone finally provided a version in weight, that’s tried and true! :D

    Also, I’ve been reading countless of posts about this, but your loaf definitely is one of the best-looking of the bunch! Keep up the great work! ^_~

  • http://serriste.de/foodblog Anne

    I finally gave the no-knead bread a try today. I prepared the dough yesterday and baked the bread in my Le Creuset pot today and everything went really well.

    Thanks, Clotilde for your conversions. They helped a lot and I’m grateful that I didn’t have to trial and error my way to the right weights.

    By the way: My Le Creuset instructions say to never heat the pot empty, so I was kind of scared and didn’t really preheat the pot. The bread turned out fine nevertheless, but I can’t help but wondering whether it would have been even better if I’d dared to preheat the pot like the recipe said.

  • Sheila

    Although I’ve cooked and baked many things, I’ve never made bread before, so I wanted to give this a try. I found the dough really sticky and hard to work with (my kitchen was a mess, and I lost half the dough in the process), so I think I will stay with 1 1/2 cups of water next time. Anyway, I was convinced it wouldn’t work out at all, but then I pulled it out of the oven and voila! Amazing bread! And so easy! Though it would be nice to not get dough all over the place.

  • http://uglifruit.blogspot.com rai

    I’ll have to try it with your changes. I’ve tried this loaf two times now and although it’s delish, the bottom crust comes out very very thick and I’ve lost two dish towels despite the heavy amounts of flour used. Anyone know how to save the dishtowels?

  • Amy

    Clothilde,

    Do you know where I can find a French translation of the no knead bread recipe/technique? I would like to share it with my husband’s family in France. I could resort to having my husband do a translation, but as a non-cook, his culinary vocabulary is lacking. Merci beaucoup, Amy

  • luis

    I have been baking bread for a year and a half now and I must say my loaves never developed a crust and crumb quite like the one you get with this recipe. Not that they were unworthy breads, mind you. Unless I experiment a lot (a lot!), I don’t think I’m going to be able to do pumpernickel, prairie bread, granola bread, 14-grain bread or any of the other delicious loaves I get following the traditional method. BUT, when you need a solid, basic, crusty rustic bread to go with your soup, cheese and wine (and jam the day after), this bread (and I followed Bittman’s version) is perfect, period. One thing only: for the sake of it, I tried it in my Le Creuset pan first. Great as the bread was, its shape was a little too… shapeless. Kind of an asteroid. The second time, I used my good old banneton (brotform) for the second rise, and I baked it in my beloved La Cloche brick oven. The crust & crumb quality was just the same. Aestheticaly, though, it looked much, much, much better. If you want or need to be a minimalist, go with Bittman’s pans. If you care about looks, just get the La Cloche (not more than $40) and a good banneton ($20). (The La Cloche brick oven has many other uses, by the way -best deep dish pizza, great tagine dishes, etc.)

  • Sheila

    I tried again this weekend, using the 1 1/2 cups of water, and it worked out much better. I had absolutely no mess this time. I did also substitute 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour for 1/2 cup of the white; not sure if that aided in the non stickiness.

  • http://www.aresrocket.com/bread Ginger

    This is the best and easiest bread I have ever made – it is addicting, so be warned – you can’t eat store bread after this. I created a web page with detailed instructions – http://www.aresrocket.com/bread – enjoy!

  • Andrea-Michelle

    I had wonderful luck with my first loaf ever! I just came back from 2 weeks of Eric Kayser’s bread in Paris & was duly inspired to make my own. That, and the quality of the bread in my local bakeries is a bit sorry.

    I followed Lehey’s video instructions, only increasing the salt to nearly 1 Tbsp as Bittman suggested.

    I baked @ 500F for 30 minutes covered, then 15 uncovered in a 3.5 quart pot. It was perfectly browned with a beautiful crumb.

    I even took digital photos of my ‘first baked.’

    Thanks for the gentle nudge, Clotilde!

  • Leigh Ann

    I just wanted to add some comments that some may find helpful. I have been baking bread for years, but found the crusty loaf from my home oven elusive. I have made four of these no-knead loaves in the last week with absolutely fabulous results. This is definitely my new favorite recipe, and my family LOVES it.

    OK…for my advice: Since I wasn’t sure how the recipe was going to turn out, I didn’t want to invest a small fortune in an expensive pot. I bought a $21.00 US cast iron (preseasoned) 5-quart oval dutch oven over the Internet before I got started. The company is called Cajun Cookware. The pot has the old-fashioned black finish, instead of the enameled smooth finish of the more expensive cookware. The rough texture prevents sticking, even without the recommended corn meal called for in the recipe, and the oval shape makes a perfect, high loaf every time.

    I am using the scoop and level method (3 cups of bread flour, sometimes substituting wheat flour for up to one cup) and 2 tsp. of salt for more flavor.

    I use 1 5/8 cup of spring water since water from the faucet can be laced with many substances that will effect the rise and taste of the bread.

    Using a rimless cookie sheet for the shaping and rising (using one end), cuts down on the mess tremendously. I leave the dough for the final rise about 1 1/2 inches from the end to allow for spreading. It is very easy to flip the dough from the end of the cookie sheet into the preheated pot. I have also found that my messier attempts at getting the wet dough into the pot have resulted in more interesting top to the loaf, which was a nice surprise.

    After the loaf cools for 45 minutes, you can pop it back in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes to crisp up the crust while you get the rest of dinner on the table.

    I mix up the recipe the night before, and start the shaping and rising part the next afternoon. I am planning on buying another cast iron pot so that I can make two of the loaves at a time since one loaf doesn’t go too far in our house. I am so appreciative of the posting, Clothilde. I am so happy to add this ‘keeper’ to my recipe box. Merci! Merci!

  • andrea

    OK, I am a skeptical – I admit it.

    Therefore, I read the recipe and admired the bread – but in the bottom of my soul, I knew I can’t do it. All my breads are coming out heavy as a dumbell, crumbly and … not really tasty.

    So when I started yesterday, although everything seemed to be okay and my stuff looked a lot like the pics on

    http://www.aresrocket.com/bread/

    I knew something would not work. The 18 hour dough went bubbly, sour smelling, I plopped it in the preheated Pyrex and went through the torture of not opening the oven for 30 min. And when the loaf came out wonderful smelling and golden-brown, I knew the inside will be heavy or uncooked or dense and bitter.

    And here is my surprise: PERFECT INSIDE AS OUTSIDE!!!!!! I never dreamt of baking such a perfect bread! From my first attempt! I can’t believe it’s happened!

    TRY TO MAKE IT! My addendum, as I live in a dry area, used a little more water (2 1/2 cups of King Arthur unbleached flour and 1 3/4- 2 cups of filtered water). Everything else went as directed on Clotilde’s page and the link above.

    Thanks Clotilde!

  • TERREMOTO

    Hello Clotilde!!
    My life is changed since discovering your blog…
    I found the 50′s yellow LC Coquelle, and a
    wonderful aubergine rooster Staub on Ebay..
    Bought a gorgeous Cuisinart stand mixer,
    and also a blender……
    Four days later, having made your
    orange ginger cake, and now, today,
    the NYT Leahy bread……we are off
    and running..our lives have changed.
    The bread seems to have worked out
    TOO perfectly, with no problems of
    overly runny, etc. Hope it’s OK!!!!
    It is cooling on the counter,
    and is being taken to a friend’s
    this evening, so will comment
    on it’s true quality later…
    Also took photos, and will try to
    post them later…
    This is my very FIRST time, ever, posting any comment, on any blog.
    I can’t believe I’m doing it,
    and can’t believe I’m cooking.
    Thanks to all of you…I’m thrilled.
    My husband, and willing assistant, is thrilled also!!

  • TERREMOTO

    Hello Clotilde,

    The bread was a RAVING success,
    with everyone…
    And we did share with EVERYONE!!!
    The crust…….the crumb………
    Both perfect…so delicious….
    Can’t wait to do this again, (today!!!).

    And we are completely convinced
    that it was following your instructions…weighing, NOT measuring…that made it such a success.
    Now, I only want to weigh, in all recipes!!!

    We are off to buy a free range chicken, to make
    “Le Poulet de Muriel’.
    We need (not knead!!!) to have this bread,
    to eat with the chicken, don’t you think?

    Thanks, and I am so happy, once again, to have discovered your blog!
    Best wishes to all,
    TERREMOTO

  • Annhb

    I realize I am very late to this party, but today I baked the most amazing loaf of bread in my le creuset doufeu – and I feel nervous about heating it, empty, in a 450 degree oven. Has any one else dealt with this?

  • TERREMOTO

    Hello Annhb,

    Yes, I was nervous also, because
    I used my brand new LC “Coquelle”, like Clotilde’s…
    (It’s from the 50′s but was never used.)
    And I didn’t want to blacken it,
    or ruin it….
    It was JUST FINE…no problem at all….but let it cool down naturally…slowly…before you wash it…Mine is perfect,
    and the bread was wonderful, baked in the Coquelle!!!

    TERREMOTO

  • S

    Hello all,

    I’ve been using the no-knead technique since the first NYTimes article in Nov. It worked the first time for me, and I generally eyeball “measurements” or just look for the right texture when I finally add the water. Just looking for the right texture helps me especially when I want to make a smaller portion or incorporate other liquids and don’t want to figure out how to scale the recipe.

    The techinque has worked for baking practically anything w/ yeast. I’ve made various rolls, pullman loaves, freehand loaves, challah, even pretzels and cinnamon rolls. I have found the technique to be so flexible that I’ve made bread variations using eggs, different flours (whole wheat, rye, etc.), milk, and oils.

    For those who do not want to purchase a Le Creuset or other expensive lidded pot, I experimented w/ putting a loaf into a ceramic souffle dish and covering w/ aluminum foil, which was removed for the final browning. It turned out quite well. In fact, I now often make 2 smaller loaves (just halve the dough before the final rise) and put one in my mini Le Creuset and the other in the ceramic souffle.

    I hope this note encourages everyone to try this recipe. The fear of working w/ yeast and labor of kneading kept me from baking breads for many years. Hopefully, now knowing one doesn’t have to purchase another pot will help others of you dive into this recipe. It is such a delight to get that first loaf w/ the wonderful crust…from your home oven!

  • AvaAnne

    I use a large heavy copper sauce pan (stainless steel interior I believe) with a tight fitting lid and it has worked beautifully. I’ve used various ingredients and am now incorporating some homemade sourdough starter I’ve been raising for the last couple weeks. I just know it will be perfect, it’s the covered baking that really is the charm here.

    I love your blog for the inspiration it gives me. Good job and may you have continued success.

  • http://www.damak.net Yemekler

    How funny you decided to post about Jim Lahey’s bread–I just happened to give this recipe to my mother over the phone yesterday. She’s been itching to try her hand at baking a whole loaf of bread since she made her first sucessful batch of dinner rolls for Thanksgiving. I’ll make sure to read her your account, she’ll get a kick out of it.

  • Molly

    I have a ball of soup resting on my kitchen counter right now, hence the google query that led me to your blog. And right away I see the problem. On what planet does 3 cups of all-purpose white flour make 16.5 oz? The base equivalence I learned is 3.5 cups = 16 oz. Ah, well, I have a 25# bag of flour, I can try again.

  • giovanna pastina

    I made this bread at the weekend. I feel very smug in reporting that I had success first time (but that is probably due to Clotilde’s failures that I could learn from).

    Very nice, and looked just like the one in the picture. I love it when that happens…

  • Robin Young

    I am concerned that the recipe calls for bread flour.

    Bread flour has traditionally more protein than all purpose flour, which will drastically change the outcome of the bread. Ideally the protein content should be around 11 to 11.5%, and bread flour has a protein content of 12-14%

    The other factor involved is how old your flour is, and the time of year. I find living in Canada, I often have to add more water to bread recipes at different times of the year.

    This recipe works wonderfully, but it is a very wet dough which will be unfamiliar to many who have not worked with artisanal bread formulas.

  • Lon

    I have been baking for over 40 years and have several natural starters going at all times. I have avoided the ‘no-knead’ recipe fervor like a plague, not being able to imagine how proper gluten network can form without kneading. If Clotilde endorses, I must try. But I’ve never had any trouble with “volume” recipes (although I’m from les Etats-Unis I weigh ingredients metrically), I’ve always gone more with sensory feedback than precise measurements to get the right dough consistency.

  • Barbie

    I’m so excited to try this! Last Christmas I bought myself a baking stone so I could start trying recipes from Richard Bertinet’s “Crust” (cause you just can’t find good bread in my particular area of the states) but it’s intimidating! I feel this will be a springboard for the more ambitious ferments and things. Thanks for documenting your adventures.

  • lucy

    Do you think it would be possible to make this bread with fresh yeast from the bakery?? Thanks!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I’m sure you could. I can’t offer guidance with the substitution, but perhaps you can use the recommendations listed here.

  • Levynite

    I just tried my hand at this but despite the wonderful smell, the crust was…pale and going on rubbery.
    Admittedly, I improvised with a loaf pan and tin foil as I do not own any pots that can survive the oven and I may have forgotten the 2 hour rise and made it 1 instead.
    Any advice or tips? A better improvisation? A hotter oven?

  • http://www.stackmines.com Christopher Lovos

    They have a Romertopf bread baker that cooks up a nice loaf. I use it all the time you can find it at http://www.stackmines.com it’s nice to have and all you do is soak it in water.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      That’s a great suggestion, Christopher. Can you use it for chicken also? This recipe is originally designed for use in a romertopf.

      • http://www.stackmines.com Christopher Lovos

        There are also Romertopf that cook chicken and other kinds of meats as well. I do recommend the 99250 which is just for chickens, but there are actually many other Romertopf that can be used for other occasions as well. http://www.stackmines.com

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