The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

No Knead Bread

theuneditedfoodie's picture

I have been a fan of the no-knead bread ever since two of my friends told me about it having been featured in the NY times by Mark Bittman. Now, Bittman, the minimalist guru, is not the one responsible for the No-Knead Bread; sure he helped to sell the concept by featuring it in his column for the NY times, but the mind/man behind the No-Knead success has been Jim Lahey- founder of the Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City. In 2006, the NY times mentioned the no-knead bread for the first time and it just exploded in the amateur bakers’ world, the success of the bread reached phenomenal heights to the extent that Anothony Bourdain called Lahey the Dalai Lama of bread baking. In 2008, Bittman came back with a twist on this no-knead concept and introduced, alongside Lahey, a speedy no-knead concept- where the idea was basically to add more yeast. And although for an amateur baker the speedy no-knead is a revelation, personally, to me, the holes that the bread webs aren’t big enough to give it the perfect flaky/airy crumb. The thing that I love about the no-knead bread is the use of Dutch oven, I meaning by using this noble vessel one can truly get the heat of a professional oven and the physics behind it is just incredible that even a douche, like myself can prepare some great breads. In the past, I have tried the original no-knead bread, which has an initial rising time of 18 hours and then a secondary rising time of 2 hours before it hits the scorching hot Dutch oven. I have also tried the speedy no-knead too, which has a first rise time of 4 to 5 hours, followed by another hour.  So in my quest to understand more no knead and more Lahey, I got Lahey’s bread book, “My Bread-The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method". One of the first recipes that inspired me from Lahey’s book was the Pan co’ Santi (Walnut bread); this bread contains bread flour, raisins, walnuts, salt, cinnamon, yeast, black pepper, water and cornmeal for dusting. Now, since I am allergic to walnuts, well not exactly, but since I do not like walnuts- I opted for its exodus. Obviously, with walnuts now out of the scene- the bread wasn’t walnut bread anymore, and so I added some cranberry and called it cranberry-raisin bread.  Also, what was exciting to taste was the cinnamon alongside the black pepper with the cranberry and raisins. I have to confess, this was a good festive bread. High on my success of the cranberry-raisin bread, I decided to pull another bread recipe of Lahey’s, this one called the olive bread or Pane all’Olive. Now, the olive bread had of course bread flour, pitted olives, yeast, water and cornmeal for dusting. Although, Lahey strongly suggested to use kalamata olives, since they are soaked in pure salt brine, it would add to the taste of the bread- however, the cheap bastard that I am, I opted for the regular California olives.  Now, in the past when I have made olive bread, I have witnessed problems with gradually introducing olives within the bread, for olives have a huge amount of water and keep wetting my bread dough to where I am pushed to use more bread flour just to keep the dough dry enough for baking.  So when I was making Leahy’s olive bread, I tried to outsmart the liquefied olives by air-drying it with a hair dryer. Did it work? Yes, to some extent or at least I thought when introducing the olives to the flour mixture.  Unfortunately, after the first and second rising, I knew for sure that the motherfucking olives had peed yet again in my flour. This led to very soggy dough, which was extremely hard to handle. I mean as such it is hard to control the aesthetic of the no-knead bread when you are trying to toss it up in the Dutch oven without burning your hand. Somehow after stretching my dough somewhat, I was able to slam it into the container and finally get in the conventional oven to bake.  The results weren’t very satisfying…not only the bread was somewhat moist, the culprit being the olives-it almost tasted like it didn’t have any salt.  Why so? Well, one could say because Leahy didn’t introduce any salt in it, and why that- because he believed that the kalamata olives brined in sea salt would bring enough saltiness to the bread.  The only thing that I was glad about this bread at that point of time was that thankfully, listening to the wife, I had introduced some rosemary and garlic into the flour mixture, which made the bread somewhat edible. Moral of the blog, you live and learn and you bake and get better. To be continued…

conbrio's picture

Starter for Almost No Knead Bread?

March 14, 2011 - 7:18pm -- conbrio

Hi. New here, new to bread making. I've just baked my fourth No Knead loaf. The first two were Jim Lahey's basic recipe. The crust and crumb were good, but I thought their flavor was a little one-dimensional. The next two were from the Cook's Illustrated Almost No Knead recipe (Jan 2008). Big improvement in flavor, texture still good, higher crown.

appendix's picture

no knead bread containers

October 4, 2010 - 7:30pm -- appendix

I have made quite a bit of basic no knead bread & have been very happy with it.  Usually I bake it in a large (I think 5qt) dutch oven that I've had for years.  I would like to use this recipe to make soup bowls for my family, but the little mini dutch ovens are fairly pricey.  What other vessels can the no knead bread be cooked in, that would come in about a 1liter size that I could experiment with to make these things.  Thinking along the lines of cheap also.  I need to buy at least four of them, so I don't want to spend $50 each on them.

breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Sorry for the late update of this post...  This is my attempt at a no knead ciabatta a la Jim Lahey.  It's basically his same ciabatta recipe at 87.5% hydration but with a little more salt, and some improvisations with technique.  I am very happy with my result except that I should have squished them down with my fingertips during the initial stages of the final proof to prevent the cavern that you will see in one of the crumbshots.  This result though is the most aerated crumb that I have ever gotten...  Ever...  I got a 28% water loss after bake...


400g AP

350g Water

10g Kosher Salt

1g ADY

761g Total



11:07pm - Mix all ingredients in bowl, cover.

11:54pm - Stir again, cover.  Go to bed...


8:15am - Dump dough out onto well floured surface, turn dough, place onto well floured iinen couche, cover and let rest.

8:40am - With a bench knife, cut the dough in half lengthwise, flour more, pull up couche to separate the two loaves, cover and let proof for 1 hr.  Arrange baking stones in oven along with steam pan.  Fill pan with water and lava rocks, Preheat oven to 500F with convection.

9:40am - Turn off convection.  Turn loaves carefully onto floured peel and place them into the oven directly on the stone.  When last loaf is in, pour 1 cup water into steam pan, close door.  Bake for 10 minutes at 450F, no convection.

9:50am - Take out steam pan, close door, bake for another 30 minutes, rotating loaves half way through bake.  Loaves are done when the internal temp reaches 210F, and are about 15% lighter than their pre baked weight...

Note: Here is my kitchen set-up.  I have a gas/convection oven, which vents out.  In NYC, we don't have exhaust systems that exhaust to the outside.  Instead, they exhaust into your face...  Fortunately my stove/oven is near the window.  I have a big fan that I point towards the outside.  When I start preheating the oven, I turn the fan on full blast...

10:10am - Let loaves cool before cutting...  At least 1 hour or so...  Notice the crackly crust, and the slug like shape...

Here are a bunch of crumbshots...

Oops!  That hole is big enough to put a sausage into...

Playing with bread...

Notice the crispy crackly crust...  This was so messy...  But really yummy...

Some more parting crumbshots...  Enjoy!


RichmondJim's picture

Inexpensive alternative for a Le Creuset dutch oven / $45 today only!

September 6, 2010 - 8:59am -- RichmondJim

For those of us looking for a less expensive alternative to the Le Creuset cast iron dutch oven, the folks at are offering the Cuisinart CI670-30PC 7 Qt. Enameled Cast Iron Casserole with Lid for $39.99 plus $5.00 shipping & handling. This offer is good TODAY ONLY (Sept. 6, 2010) and the dutch oven is only available in blue at the time of this post (the red sold out).

breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Hey All,

Just wanted to share with you my attempt at No Knead Bread from 4/25/10.  Enjoy!  The recipe will be posted below.



1000g AP (Hecker’s)

800g Water

22g Kosher Salt

1/4 tsp Active Dry Yeast

1823g Total Dough


Night before baking

9:15pm – Mix all ingredients together in large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon.  Mix well so there are no dry spots or lumps.  Transfer with plastic scraper to a lightly oiled 6L plastic container with cover.  Leave on counter overnight.  (I used a 4L container, which was too small for the dough.  It popped the top of the container off)

Morning of baking:

6:30am – Turn dough out onto well floured surface, divide into 2 equal pieces, shape into boules, place into well floured linen lined bannetons.  Place bannetons into large plastic bags, proof for about 1 1/2 hrs.

7:15am – Place 2 baking stones on different levels, along with steam pan, preheat to 550F.

8:00am – Turn loaves out onto lightly floured peel, slash if desired, place in oven directly on stone.  When all loaves are in, add 1 cup of water to steam pan, turn oven down to 450F.  Bake for 25 minutes at 450F.  Rotate loaves between stones, turn down to 425F, bake for another 25 minutes or until internal temp reaches 210F.  Cool completely before cutting and eating…

Notes: I proofed the loaves for about 1 hr, which is probably why I had some blowouts.  I hid them with some careful photography...  Also, the crumb was very even, but very light and airy.  I probably handled them too much during the shaping...  I am quite happy with the result and taste and will probably make more of this no knead stuff out of sheer laziness...


Mason's picture

Sourdough no-knead --diagnosis?

January 6, 2010 - 9:48am -- Mason

I just tried my first attempt ever at a higher-hydration dough, and at not kneading all the CO2 out before shaping.  Bwraith's discussion of adapting the NYT no-knead to sourdough seemed like a good one to try:  I have a very healthy mature 100% hydration sourdough starter, just reinvigorated the previous night.

wholegrainOH's picture

Finally got around to activating a sourdough starter I got at least two years ago from Ed Wood's Sourdough International; did both baguettes and a no-knead loaf. A couple of photos; more at

no knead baked
the no-knead loaf baked

nn-knead texture; didn't let it rise long enough

the baguettes


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