The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Advantages and Disadvantages of No-Knead Bread Baking

mizrachi's picture

Advantages and Disadvantages of No-Knead Bread Baking

I get that no-knead bread is both convenient and requires little in the way of equipment.  What are some other advantages to baking this way?  And, surely, there must be  some disadvantages.  What might those be?



raidar's picture

I would think that life expectancy of the bread would be a disadvantage; without added fats, it doesn't stay fresh as long as some breads. As well, the loaf isn't shaped or textured for all your needs.

I enjoy no-knead bread and have made a fresh loaf every two days now for almost a year (on top of regular bread baking) so I don't have too many complaints. From a mix of different flours, ground up seeds (sesame etc..), herbs and more, it does provide some great versatility with little prep.

flournwater's picture

IMO, the best advantage is that it takes almost no time at all to prepare.  I tend to rely on it when I don't have time to spend on other bread varieties.

Disadvantages, although I'm not bothered by it, might include the fact that when you select the "No Knead" process  you're stuck with an artisan style loaf of bread.  But I prefer that style of bread so, to my mind, it's no disadvantage.


giertson's picture

Personally, I find that the only downside of the no-knead is that it can inspire a little bit of laziness. I am less likely to whip up a really fun/difficult/new bread when I get the craving for bread since it is a simple, go to daily bread that is very satisfying. This is a pretty subjective answer, though, so it may not hold true for many.

The advantages I see are many but two stick out:

1) it is great for teaching, and even better, 'infecting' people with the bread bug. There is a long chain of people I have never even met who are baking no-knead because I taught somebody they know how to. Its easy and satisfying and most people (i find) want to know how to do it when they hear about it.


2) It is fun to experiment with. Pretty much anything you can leave out at room temperature can be incorporated. Hard cheeses, herbs, vegetables (like spinach or sun dried tomatoes) are all good ideas. I have actually been mixing in the paste from whole heads of roasted garlic lately which results in a mild but delicous garlic taste throughout the crumb.


drhowarddrfine's picture

I do notice a significant lack of taste compared to any other bread I make so I stopped with it altogether after a few loaves.

Janknitz's picture

The flavor does not suffer if you do a good job with the techniques.  There is still a nice long ferment with both NK and AB in 5, and I find the flavor is actually quite well-developed. 

Perhaps I don't have a very sophisticated palate, but I think (and I am NOT trying to start a flame war and I'm NOT directing this at anyone in particular) that sometimes people who criticize NK and AB in 5 methods haven't given them a fair trial--they are just making assumptions. 

I think the disadvantage is that there is a limited type of dough you can create with these methods (primarily highly hydrated doughs), and I like having a broader repertoire with more options for various dough textures and techniques.  Sometimes I like to have less hydration just so I can play with some fancy, dancy scoring or shaping.  

I work full time PLUS, I have a marriage, kids, and a life, so I am thrilled that these techniques exist to allow me to play with dough on MY schedule with fantastic results.  When there's time to slow down and use traditional (and not so traditional!) methods,--well, I ejoy that, too. 



hsmum's picture

Wouldn't bread made with "stretch & fold" techniques be classified as "no knead"?

I am puzzled by the suggestions that one is restricted to artisan breads and to breads that are not enriched. Could someone explain that, please?

As a busy mom, just this past week I tried my own variation on the 'stretch & fold" with a couple different sandwich loaves (one multigrain, the other an enriched white sandwich loaf) and both turned out just the same as they always have with my regular hand-kneading process.  I was amazed at the results given the lack of effort, frankly.  But as a new baker, maybe I'm too easily satisfied with merely satisfactory results, so I'd appreciate some education! :)


Nancy Baggett's picture
Nancy Baggett

I learned to knead bread as a kid, and still enjoy it, but decided to write a book on kneadless bread--called Kneadlessly Simple--for a number of reasons. A lot of people never learned to make and are too intimidated to try yeast breads, and I didn't want them to be doomed to never having their own oven-fresh bread. A lot of people are either too busy or too rarely home to make bread the "traditional" way; my recipes involve just quickly mixing the dough in a bowl, which reduces counter cleanup, and setting it aside until you're ready to deal with it again. (The real traditional way is to just let the yeast ferment and bubble until the dough naturally kneads itself in 12 to 18 hours, but that's another story.) The cool, slow-rise method I use calls for cold water, which both reduces risks to the yeast and yields bread with very good flavor and texture. Plus, due to the very long, thorough dough hydration, loaves stale a little more slowly than most conventionally made breads. As for the previous comment about no-knead breads all being lean or plain--it's not so--you can make all kinds of savory and sweet no-knead breads. You just add the perishable items (dairy, etc.) after the first rise. 

taurus430's picture

Hi Nancy, I just saw your post. I have your book "Kneadlessly Simple" and learned more techniques from it. I use to bake bread years ago and stopped for a while until I stumbled on the no knead method last year which got me going full steam into bread baking again. I don't like to knead dough as I find it boring. I've had great results with the no knead method. I learned from your book on how to add perishables to the basic no knead dough on day 2 and other great recipes.

Thanks for a great book!!


bamw's picture

I have tried both current methods of no-knead bread. For me the Artisinal Bread in Five Minutes has worked out well. 

I agree with Karen that it is possible to make a number of varying loafs of bread with this method. I also like the idea that for most of the time this dough is kept refrigerated as opposed to the opposite method of having it sit on a kitchen shelf for 24 hrs. Probably safe enough but it just makes me a bit uncomfortable.

I have incorporated several different flours into the standard recipe and have come up with some very interesting and yummy tastes. I think this is especially a great method to use during the hot summer months. 

I always have a container of dough in the refrigerator now so that at any given time I can in very short order have a nice loaf of fresh bread that is a far cry from anything i can purchase. 

How good is that??




David Zersen's picture
David Zersen

Have baked crusty, full-flavored no-knead bread for several years now. Typically, I use a dutch oven, but have experimented with loaf pans and single rolls, and the dough is very flexible, so some of the above comments about disadvantages are not really accurate. However, my interest in making a multi-grain loaf was thwarted by the difficulty in finding bags of mixed grains that could be used for the purpose. This year in Germany I recieved a bag of Schrott from a miller and have been using it to make a whole-wheat-rye multi-grain loaf (sort of everthing in one). I love it, but the grandchildren still love the white bread.