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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Even Easier No-Knead Bread

Months after The New York Times featured Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread recipe, it's still taking the food blogging world by storm. Last week he was on Martha Stewart. I made a whole wheat verison, which turned out so well I thought I'd make another loaf, simplify it even more, and take more photos.

This version is slightly easier because there's less handling of flour or sticky dough. No-Knead means no need to touch either. Hehe, I'm so clever. You can stir and scrape the dough with a wooden spoon. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and place a towel on top, instead of letting the towel touch the dough.

No more fancy store-bought loaves for me. This bread features a crisp, crackly crust with a chewy inside reminiscent of European artisanal breads.

Even Easier No-Knead Bread

You'll need:
3 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour (For wheat bread, 2 cups white, 1 cup whole wheat.)
1 1/2 cup hot water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp of yeast, the kind sold in packets and jars

You can skip this step entirely and dump all the ingredients together in a bowl. But I think this step helps the yeast activate just a little bit. In my simplified version (ie: lazy), turn on hot water tap in bathroom and when it's hot, measure out 1 1/2 cups water. (This is because I don't have a food thermometer but have found the bathroom hot tap water the perfect temperature for yeast to rise.) Add 1/4 tsp yeast and 1 tsp sugar. Swirl the mixture around a little to activate the yeast. Add 1 tsp salt (more if you want a saltier bread) and flour. Mix thoroughly but quickly. You'll get a sticky, lumpy dough that looks like this.

Cover with plastic wrap and a thick towel and leave it to rise in a warm place for at least 12 hours, ideally 18 or more. Just do it the night before and let it rise while you're asleep and at work the next day. The dough should double in size with lots of bubbles like this.

Liberally flour a cutting board and dump the dough onto the surface, dusting the top again. Cover with plastic and towel again and let it rise for a few hours. You can fold or shape your dough to make it a little more compact but you don't have to. I usually place my cutting board on the stove top where it'll be warmer once I preheat the oven for baking.

Half an hour before you're ready to bake, turn oven to 450 degrees and put your pot in to preheat also. I'm totally loving my 5-quart Dutch oven, but you can substitute with any oven-proof container with lid. A 5-quart size will create a loaf about 10 inches round and 3 to 4 inches high. After two hours, that lump now looks like this.

Take off plastic, dump it into the pot with the lid on. No need to oil the pot, the bread will pull in from the sides and won't stick. After half an hour, take the lid off and bake for another 15 minutes or so until it looks like this. Yes, it's not as pretty and round as my first attempt but looks rustic and yummy anyway.

By baking first with the lid on, steam creates these little air holes in the bread that make it like those European breads.
So very easy right? So start your loaf tonight and I'll post some recipes in the next few days for Indian butter chicken and pumpkin curry for you to dip the bread. But it is just perfect warm from the oven and dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Or slathered with butter and jam. Or just plain.



  1. I heard about this on Good Food (KCRW show), and now I see it, for the first time. I'll have to try this of course. Your pics are amazing!

  2. Hey, this is really easy. Oh, look at that the crusty crust...:O

  3. Elmo,
    Do, and let me know how yours turns out.

    Heh, a bit too crusty. I should have smoothed it out a little more.

  4. hi! i tried baking bread today (that is before i found your blog). and i use both of my hands to knead the bread. now that i've seen how you've done it. it is much easier! thanks.

    i visit your blog through rasa malaysia. nice blog! i've added you in my blog's roll!

  5. Bill,

    Why yes I do. :)

    Yippee! Another bread lover. :)

  6. ooh.. you got me interested with this one. I don't have a breadmaker so I have never made bread, but this one looks easy. Just wondering if I can use baking powder in place of yeast?

  7. Hi Sim Cooks,
    No you can't use baking powder instead. The bread won't rise if you don't use yeast.

  8. Mhhmmm your bread looks soooooooooo goood!!! What types of containers are oven proof?? I want to make some bread!

  9. Hi Tania,
    Pyrex, that thick heavy glass, containers are ovenproof. Ask your brother. You can substitute by putting an ovenproof plate over the top as a lid. :)

  10. Thanks for a wonderful post! The photos are really useful and helpful, because they show all the stages very clearly. I've seen this recipe in the blogosphere before, and was completely lured by the beautiful crust! When I saw your picture of it, I simply couldn't resist! I have a confession to make: the dough is rising in my kitchen as I'm writing this! I've just started the process! :) Can't wait to see the results! The bf adores crusty bread, and he is coming back home from a trip tomorrow, so the bread will be a nice surprise for him!

  11. Hi Maninas,
    So? How did it turn out? Was the bf pleasantly surprised? :)

  12. Hi WC, I ran across your blog a few months ago while searching for restaurant reviews in the San Gabriel Valley. and have become totally addicted to your site. I too, frequent many of your favorite restaurants. Banh Mi Che Cali is one of my favorites for inexpensive but yummy goodies and their baguettes are wonderful with their buttery goodness and crisp crust. Thank you for posting this great recipe. I had alwayas wanted to try to make bread but was always intimidated by the whole yeast and kneeding thing. I actually tried your recipe last week while I was on vacation and it came out great. Especially yummy warm and with butter. I did make a few modificatons, I used a corning casserole dish and would recommend greasing the dish before baking. It did stick to the dish without it being pre-greased. I also only covered the dish for 15 minutes instead of 30 minutes and it came out well. I had to uncover it early because the dough was touching the lid (I should have also used a bigger pan). Otherwise it came out great, being new to the blogging world, it did not occur to me to take pictures while I made it. But it was very yummy, especially when it was still warm and spread with some sweet butter. Thanks again!

  13. Yum Cha Girl,
    I'm glad this post inspired you to make no-knead bread. It's great, isn't it?

  14. Hi there,

    I first made bread using the no-knead recipe. It turned out great, though the bread got very hard after a day or so. How do you store your bread so it remains somewhat soft?


  15. Yamini,
    I store my bread in a plastic bag. You can first put the bread into a brown paper bag and then inside a plastic bag. That'll keep the bread soft for days.

  16. Thank you for the recipe. I've made it a few times already and love it!

  17. Olgy,
    Oh man! This post is sooo old! And I thought everyone has made it by now. :P

  18. Good morning, WC :)

    Where did you put your dough to rise? The warmest part of our apartment is probably 70*F, is that warm enough?


  19. I think our apartment is lower than 70*F most of the time. :/ It's only "warm-ish" for a couple hours in the afternoon.

  20. Jen,
    I usually put cover the bowl with a thick towel and leave it on top of my stove. Any place that's not drafty should work. Also, the long time gives it plenty of time to rise. If you want it to go faster, just double the amount of yeast.

  21. Hi WC,

    I failed. I googled what is the temperature of a "warm place" for a dough to rise. I found many people say between 70-80*F and suggested to put the dough to rise in the oven with only the pilot light on if there's no warm place in the house. I did that. Well I guess I should've known my pilot light was too hot cuz the racks got pretty hot, like I could still touch them but can't leave my fingers on there for more than 3 seconds. And my dough doubled in size in less than 30 minutes then sunk. I waited the 18 hours anyway and found out my dough has turned into goo. I'm going to try again tomorrow just leaving it on the stove with a thick towel.



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