The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

No Knead doesnt do it for me.

BeekeeperJ's picture

No Knead doesnt do it for me.

Having tried both methods many times, I personally dont feel that the no knead bread doesnt come close to tasting as good as a kneaded product. I think it lacks a certain texture and taste even though it has a good looking crumb and sour ish smell. I dont find the same depth and complexity in it compared to a kneaded and slow fermented french or ciabatta. Just my thoughts.  What do you guys think?

Janknitz's picture

There's no rule that says you MUST like KNB, just as not everbody likes rye or sourdough.

Most people complain about KNB because "it has too much yeast" or it's too wet.  It's perfectly OK to reduce the yeast (given a longer fermentation time to mak up for it, and it takes a bit of practice to be able to handle such highly hydrated doughs.  So just because you found something you didn't like about it doesn't mean that others can't overcome those issues and make very wonderful loaves of bread with this technique.   Flavor development can be tweaked as well.  And even if it's not as wonderful as your carefully fermented loaves, it's certainly better than what most people can buy on a store shelf and still doable for people that don't have have as much time as you.

So, I hope you don't view your feelings about KNB as a license to look down your nose on other people who DO like KNB (I'm sure YOU are too classy to do that, but there are others here who WOULD take such an opportunity--just saying!)

BeekeeperJ's picture

I have never considered myself classy but I do however know what I like and what tastes good to me.  The intention of this post was not to snub the lovers of no knead bread but to just get a feel as to what others think about it. I agree there are many ways to produce a loaf and none are wrong.  I do think aside from the convenience of no knead bread, the taste is underdeveloped and on the gummy side, almost like its quick fix on a flavor that takes time to master if done correctly in the case of real handmade artisan bread.  Again these are my opinions as are all the posts on this site . No one person is correct or incorrect . If you like it and it works for you ... great!

cranbo's picture

No question that you like what you like, that's fine. 

>> the taste is underdeveloped and on the gummy side

Interesting, because I don't find this to be the case at all in my no-knead breads of late, although I have experienced this in the past before tweaking the recipes.

I think the problem with no-kneads is that tweaking and care with no-knead recipes is still inevitably required. If done so, I really believe they can develop quality that is very similar to handmade artisan bread. I have made both kinds, and I am able to achieve similar textures and flavors both ways in many (but not all) cases. 

Again, this has been my experience as an amateur home baker. YMMV.

Not to stoke the flames, are you saying  no-knead bread is neither handmade nor artisan? ;)

MichaelH's picture

How long have you been baking?

How accomplished are your baking skills?

What recipe(s) are you using?

What techniques are you using?

What equipment are you using?

How many NK loaves have you baked?

Many, many people with little time and meager resources find

NK bread to be dramatically superior to their only practical alternative, which is grocery store bread.



cranbo's picture

Agree here with MichaelH.

Technique is important with NK breads. Stretch and fold made a huge textural difference in my NK bread. 

Have you tried making the Tartine Country Bread? This is a NK that can produce excellent results. 

Some of the NK recipes need some tweaking. My AB5MD noknead loaves always tasted too yeasty. Peter Reinhart spoke about this in one of his classes, and I found it was true: with the amount of yeast & length of time that is specified, these doughs can easily get overfermented, taste too yeasty and not brown properly. 


bnom's picture

Breadbee was simply sharing her thoughts and asking what others thought. There's no reason to get huffy in responding (as some of these comments seem to).

mrfrost's picture

Pretty much agree here. For whatever reason, most of the popular no knead recipes just don't taste like much to me either. Tried my first Lahey/NYT loaf a couple weeks ago. Tried a HB5 loaf early on in my 2 year endeavor. Even the CI/Breadtopia Almost NK with beer and vinegar. None tasted like much, with Lahey's having the most potential, and the HB5 base wheat being the absolute worst. My opinion.

But like they say, it's ok not to like some things, even if they are popular with many.

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Maybe it depends on what you want out of a loaf of bread.  Some of the "artisan" bread presented to me as wonderfulmous examples of the highest of the baker's art taste absolutely NASTY to me.  They have a sour, almost spoiled flavor; some of them even smell off.

And yes, I HATE sourdough, and always have.

I've been told this flavor is proof of the bread's "depth".  Well whatever.  *I* have no desire to eat bread with "depth" then, if it tastes like that!

I've never had a NK loaf of bread spoiled by that flavor, whatever it is and whatever causes it.

The best bread I've ever had were the baguettes we used to buy every other day in Puerto Rico - hot and tasty right out of the oven.  Maybe someday I'll be able to produce a loaf like that!

Mukoseev's picture

While I agree that the NK breads are somewhat lacking in flavor the ability to have fresh baked bread three to four times a week vs. buying at the grocery store is a welcome trade off.  I have been experimenting with rye and wholewheat flours using Jim Lahey's recipe with very good results.

pollyanne's picture

I just love kneading, and I miss it, even in the other artisan breads that are very wet and use stretch and fold instead.  Now I'm on the hunt for wild yeast, artisan recipes that let me indulge my need to knead.  I am lucky to work at home, so I can intermittently attend to dough.

lynnebiz's picture

I have a combination of arthritis, fibromyalgia and some laziness thrown in (ha - some days my hands are OK), so I'm doing no-knead most days. But I've had a lot of years of experience - I don't even measure anymore, and I prefer a very wet dough. Took a lot of years to get here - I started baking bread when I was about 14 yrs old, and my family lived through many years of baked bricks.

Sometimes I combine a bit of stretch & fold along with it - whatever I'm doing, it comes out really good most of the time. I'm extremely fussy when it comes to bread, prefer artisan-type breads (if I'm going back to a recipe, I guess my fav so far is the ancienne recipe in the BBA book - cold rise rules!)

I haven't posted any photos yet - will do that when I get a chance. I think it's like anything else - with enough experience, you can make a no-knead bread taste just as good as when you knead, and the texture can be as good - or better.

I'm very careful not to handle the dough too much (in fact, I still need practice in improving the shaping of the dough), as that makes a difference, too. Lately, though, I've been using this mostly for pizza (popular w/my adult kids when they visit - sometime esp. for the pizza, lol).

Janknitz's picture

The implication that since I make KNB's I must be "knead-o-phobic" or I don't make good bread, or I'm lazy, or not a "real" (home) bread baker. 

None are true.  I love to knead, too.  I make all sorts of breads, including lovingly kneaded breads, long fermentation, sourdough builds that take 3 days, AND KNB.  Sometimes it depends on my schedule--no time for kneading and building but I can still have fresh bread with a KNB, and sometimes it depends on what I want (I have a KNB recipe for rye bread that's pretty good, but if I have the luxury of time I will spend nearly two days making a spectacular rye). 

But there are people here--and I'm not blaming YOU--who will make blanket statements that essentially say "ALL KNB's are terrible and so are the people who bake them or like the results."  So I just wanted to head that baloney off at the pass. 

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Well I freely admit it - I hate kneading.  For people who actually like that, more power to them, but if I had to knead to make bread, I just flat out wouldn't make it.  In fact I DIDN'T make it for years and years and years because I hate kneading.  I have always seen kneading as a collosal waste of my time.  I get no sense of satisfaction from it.  I don't think it imbues the bread with mystic auras of wondermousness.

Having a KitchenAid helps these days.  Having a Zojirushi helps even more.  I can now relegate the kneading to one of those machines (my preference more and more is to let the Zoj do it all for kneaded breads).

There's just nothing special about kneading.  These days I couldn't knead even if I wanted to.  I have a bad shoulder and ulnar nerve entrapment on the left side and a tricky elbow on the right.  I can't stand for very long.  But that's not why I don't knead - even before I had these injuries I didn't knead.

The best baguette I've made so far was from a no-knead recipe.  I like some of the NK recipes I've tried and I'll continue to work with them.  I still work with some kneaded recipes - but no hand kneading.  Some of the recipes for kneaded breads are just over the top IMO. I'm not going to take 3 days to make a loaf of bread.  I've got better things to do with my time.

Hand kneading, poolishes, whatnot - anything that takes days to go from start to finish, not for me.  For people who enjoy that sort of thing, that's great, you should do what you enjoy.  But for me - I've found there's either no difference in flavor, or the difference is one I don't like and don't want.

And I'm not talking about what *I* make, so don't go assuming there's no difference to me because *I* don't hand knead.  That's from tasting bread made by people who are acknowledged masters of baking.

ssor's picture

to make bread!... There are many ways to make bread and the different methods produce different results. Bagels are bread and so also are croissants but two breads couldn't be more different. If you have a method that works for you and pleases your taste and family then master that method and enjoy. I make perhaps ten or twelve recipes and this has been the result of fifty years of trial and rejection of many recipes. A white bread sandwich loaf is good for BLT sandwiches a white flour loaf from Pugliese is great with soup WW bread is good with baked beans. Just bake what you like, learn what others do, don't feel diminished because you don't do it the way someone else does.

varda's picture


EvaB's picture

as an entry into the world of breadmaking. I can't knead so its helped me to make fresh bread when my old recipe couldn't anymore. So I favour the NK method, but am also exploring the other methods and recipes here.

I think that the KN bread has as much flavour as my mother's home made kneaded bread which was pretty standard bread, and it sure as heck has less junk in it that the store bought "artisan" breads, with their dough enhancers, and so forth, can it be more flavourful, YES, of course. Does that take more time well yes!

So for someone who is struggling with reduced income, or reduced time the NK bread is a god send, fast, can make it up, have it in the fridge, bake it when one gets home, and have a loaf of bread that doesn't taste like cardboard (well not commercial cardboard anyway) and you also get to save time and money by not spending it at a store, where by the way, a loaf of the artisan bread costs about 1/5 of the price of a 20 pound bag of flour, which should turn out more loaves than 5, and be a darn site healthier too!

salma's picture

I have baked and am baking almost every week from this site and from some famous authors' books that I couldnt resist buying.  I did start with the KNB and kept tweaking it with different herbs, fruits and nuts and everyone who had it was awed.  I then started pusing people into making this simple bread with minimal effort and extended time. One husband just told me that the recipe that you gave my wife is the best bread.  I have to say that I myself hardly make it anymore.  I agree, its very easy and you can make it with your eyes closed, and reasonable good, but it does not have the same texture of the crumb as some of the breads discussed here, unless made with some additional stretch and folds, which I have not experimented.  Too many other breads to make.  But that is the first bread I recommend a novice to make and people who have made it have been quite happy with what they produced.


ssor's picture

and I hven't purchase grocery store bread in the past 35 years. A plain Betty Crocker 6 to 6&1/2 cups of flour and 2 cups of water can put reasonably good bread on the table in four hours if you push it with very warm proofing. I just have never seen a good reason to make no knead bread. I have read the recipes and the proceedures and fail to understand the benefit. Minimum kneading can do enough to develope the gluten in plain white bread.

I make all of my breads by hand.

lynnebiz's picture

" if you push it with very warm proofing"

That's the thing (to me, anyway) right there. Doing a warm proof produces a different flavor of bread. One isn't better than another - for instance, for toast or certain kinds of sandwiches, I do prefer using a standard warm-rise type of recipe.

My no-knead breads (don't follow a recipe anymore, as I've tweaked it for better results - just like I do w/most recipes) have a more developed flavor. I don't like a real strong sour dough flavor, but I love the deeper flavor that a poolish, for instance, gives a bread, or a recipe that calls for kneading but requires refrigeration for part of the rise. That's what I find I get when I use the no-knead method.

I also love to knead - but not only do my hands get sore (sometimes they're very painful, in fact), but I also have other pains in my body that sometimes make me want to take short-cuts. For someone like me, having a method like this is ideal. My kids love my pizza (and we live in an area where there is a pizza place almost on every corner, lol), so I try to have a batch going almost all the time. Come summer, it'll be a different story, though, because of the heatl. On the other hand, we are now in an apt that has two grills - no, three, counting the small one buried under the snow - so I am sure I'll be trying making grill-pizza this summer.

That brings me to one other thing that I think is very important! The temp of the room is crucial - I don't even try this in the summer (I've had to throw out batches of dough) when we didn't have a/c. I live in the Boston area, and keep the temp low to save money in the winter - I suppose it's more like a refrigerator in the kitchen right now, lol. For me, this works out much better in a cool environment - and I don't time the rise either. Too busy/scattered for that, and sometimes you can't schedule life according to when you can bake. I do try to bake it when I can tell it's time (intuition & experience w/breadmaking trumps exact scientific methods, IMHO).

varda's picture

I don't knead either, but I don't use "no knead".   I have been mostly following Hamelman's approach which is to mix for a couple of minutes.   This can be done with a mixer but also with big spoon and/or hands.   Then stretch and fold at intervals during the first rise.   This strategy is great for developing flavor and doesn't require kneading.  It also gives the opportunity for shaping the loaf in more than just a pot o' dough, which you don't have with say the Jim Lahey version of no knead.  Another reason I moved away from NKB is that I just didn't want to deal with a preheated dutch oven.   I am fairly clumsy and I burn myself enough as it is (thank god for the aloe plant a friend dropped off for me) without getting up close and personal with a big hot piece of iron.  So yes, I think you can make good bread with NK approaches, and you can make good bread with other approaches many of which don't knead either, and really, to each his/her own.  -Varda

Andrew6's picture

Helpful link regarding stretch & fold for no-knead breads.

Just have fun, people.  Enjoy whatever you do.  Unless you enjoy not enjoying things.  In which case you're still enjoying it.  Whatever...Enjoy the link.

hs1's picture

I have tried no knead bread twice - the Bittman/Lahey version first, and then Ken Forkish's version that is close (involves some folding). The crumb and crust were amazing, but I too found the texture gummy and I didn't like the taste. I thought I was crazy since everyone else on the internet seems to love it. Glad I'm not alone! I'm going to try a Peter Reinhard French bread I like in the dutch oven. That might give me the inside and outside that I like.


Maverick's picture

Have you tried out Reinhart's version from his Artisan Breads Every Day book? Actually many of us just do stretch and folds. This isn't exactly no-knead as it is marketed, but a nice autolyse and some S&F will cut down on the workout. I find most of the ones marketed as such to have too much yeast for my liking.

Olive Ashworth's picture
Olive Ashworth

I have been baking for maybe 20 years now and never liked or wanted to hand knead. The idea of putting my hands on the dough when it's just mixed and in the shaggy stage is disgusting to me. So I've always used either a bread machine to knead it, or used batter bread recipes with the hand mixer, or just used stretch and fold with doughs that are around 65-70% hydration. I have noticed the bread machine makes a very lovely simple white sandwich bread that is fine for toast and sandwiches. My most common way of making bread is just letting the bread machine knead it and then forming it into a loaf and baking in the oven. The AB in 5 method is good for challah, which my husband really likes a lot. And the almost no knead bread is nice as the sandwich loaf version. I always add a tablespoon of oil though so it lasts a few days longer. The no knead bread itself was never too successful here because it was too sour or too chewy or too gummy, and I also don't care for using a dutch oven and turning my oven up so high. No knead bread also doesn't do well here in southern California in the summer because it gets extra sour. It seems to work best when the house is in the mid to low 60s. But I agree that the goal of bread making in general should be just to have fun with it and not stress about things. When I'm in a hurry, I just use the bread machine all the way through even to bake a simple loaf and it's fine. Everyone's taste is different.