The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Thougts on the NYT no knead bread

Curmudgeon's picture

Thougts on the NYT no knead bread

These are my notes from my 4th NK bread.


1 C whole wheat flour
2 C unbleached all purpose flour
¼ t rapid yeast – Fleischmann’s
1 ½ t coarse sea salt
2 t Demerara sugar dissolved in:
1 ½ C tepid water

Dry ingredients were mixed together in a stainless steel bowl. Sugared water was mixed in and an additional tablespoon of water was used to get a damp cohesive but not shaggy mixture. The surface looked dry so I sprayed it lightly with room temperature water. The finished sponge was transferred to a lightly oiled stainless steel bowl and covered with plastic wrap.

The sponge was then placed in a cold (70F) oven, the light was turned on and the oven soon got to about 80F. Between the 3rd and 4th hour bubbles began to form on the surface.

Removed the sponge from the oven after five hours. A nice population of small to medium sized bubbles had formed and the sponge had increased in size by at least 50%.

It will rest overnight on a rack in a 70F kitchen.

After the 7th hour I tilted the bowl and saw strings of gluten pulling away from the sides of the bowl. A good sign.

20th hour – the top of the sponge was covered in small bubbles. I turned the sponge out of the bowl onto floured counter top. It released cleanly leaving practically no dough stuck to the oiled bowl. This dough was easily handled with a board knife and floured hands. Folded twice, turned, folded twice more. A total of six folds in sets of two. Placed on parchment paper and shaped to rustic loaf shape to fit the Corning Stoneware baker. Covered with plastic wrap.

Proofed for 2 hours.

Preheated oven to 500F with the lidded stoneware in the oven.

Turned the loaf into the stoneware and into the oven with the lid on. Reduced heat to 450F and set the timer for 30 minutes. No slashing, no water spray, no oil in the stoneware.

After 30 minutes I removed the lid and turned the baker a quarter turn. Set the timer for 20 minutes. Another quarter turn at 10 minutes, second quarter turn at the 20 minute mark. Internal temperature at this point was just over 200F. Set timer for 5 minutes, reading after 5 minutes was 205F. Loaf was completely browned with a few darker spots.

The loaf did not sing when put on the cooling rack. No burning on the bottom nor did the loaf stick to the stoneware. The loaf gave a nice hollow drum sound when tapped on the top and bottom.

Crust is rustic style, not too thick; the crumb is nicely moist not damp, lots of medium to large holes. The taste is great; the whole wheat comes through however it is bordering on salty, which many people have noticed when whole wheat flour is used.

Some final thoughts:

I have no idea where Jim and Mark got this silly idea about using towels. Parchment paper and plastic wrap is the sensible way to go.

Get an oven thermometer. Oven thermostats are notoriously inaccurate. This is why you are burning/underbaking your bread. $5.00 solves this problem.

Get an instant read thermometer. Bake your bread to 200F minimum, 210F preferred and any issues with soggy or wet crumb will be corrected.

Experiment. A loaf costs about a dollar. The worst that can happen is you have a dollar's worth of bread crumbs.

My next loaf will incorporate Red River Cereal, some milk to replace some of the water, and some melted butter in place of sugar. It could be great, it could be not so great, and it could end up in the processor and become really great breadcrumbs. In any case I will learn something.

And may God bless Jim Lehay; I haven’t bought a loaf of bread in weeks. And what could bring more joy than to reach into the oven and bring forth your absolutely first ever homemade with your own hands loaf of bread? Other than a perfect dry martini, I can’t think of much that would.

No idea how to insert images so any help would be appreciated.

weavershouse's picture

 I made these two poppy seed loaves today using the focaccia recipe from the book NO NEED TO KNEAD and the NYT technique. The loaf in the back was left to rise and baked on a pie plate (I broke the bottom of my La Cloche), covered with the heated top from NYT Bread made today: I made these two poppy seed loaves today using the focaccia recipe from the book NO NEED TO KNEAD and the NYT technique. The loaf in the back was left to rise and baked on a pie plate (I broke the bottom of my La Cloche), covered with the heated top from the La Cloche. The pie plate had a fluted edge and it affected the way the loaf browned.

The other loaf was baked in a heated oval 4 1/2 qt. Le Creuset and it came out very nice. Both breads have lots of holes, a crisp crust and great taste.

Later I'll post a picture of a large rye I made today in the Le Creuset. I also made two baguettes with the same recipe and I have in the oven a large sourdough. I'm working on some Columbia loaves that will need my attention in a short while. Some days everything comes together just right and today was one of those days. One loaf was ready to go in the oven when one came out. It's been fun.


RFMonaco's picture

Very nice! Did you take the handle off the Le Creuset lid? I've read where they are good only to 400 deg. F

weavershouse's picture

No, I didn't take the handle off and I was worried. It was my post several months back that told of my Le Creuset lid cracking and the handle losing a couple of pieces. I recently found out my oven was reading lower than the actual temperature and I think it was probably baking my Le Creuset at 550º. I've read of many people using their Le Creuset pots at higher temps than the 400º so, call me crazy, but I decided to try. It came through fine but taking the handle off sounds like a good idea. weavershouse

dwgentry's picture

I've tried the NK recipe twice now - the second time with parchment paper and plastic wrap. My proofing ball seems to expand out rather than up, and I find myself fumbling more to get the dough from the parchment into the pot. Even with flour on the bottom I find I'm practically scraping the dough from the paper. In the meantime I'm sure I'm losing "loft" or whatever the right word is. 

Do any of you have tips - either for adjusting the water to flour ratio, or tips on handling to make this an easier, less disruptive process? 

RFMonaco's picture

I've read where some bakers eliminate the preheating step altogether and use a smaller pot (~ 6.5 to 8 in. wide) to support the sides and don't see much difference in the results. Use a lot more flour and just tilt the glob into the pot. I will try this method soon, too much bread hanging around at the moment. What size pot did you use?

P.S. I had good luck with my 1st 2 attempts using NYT method.

Curmudgeon's picture

Curmudgeon from Canada

I still preheat.  I use a 2L 2 qt) glazed ceramic casserole and it works very well.  I don't bother with the towels, I do my second rest in an oiled bowl. 



auzziewog's picture

yes agreed with your blessing of Jim - I am now starting on my 20th batch of NK bread and it is wonderful - I make a double batch and then cut it in two - I want to put some wholewheat berries in it and see how that goes ? anyone tried?  is it not wonderful to see the whole world baking bread

Orro from Australia 



edh's picture


I had a horrible time with the slack dough the first time I made this bread; there are a couple of things I got from this site that have made it really easy.

1. When I mix the dough up the night before, I do 2-3 stretch and folds at 1/2 hour intervals or, if it's too late at night when I start, I do a couple in the morning. At the beginning of the ferment seems to work a little better, though.

2. My poor-mans banneton; when I've shaped it into a boule, I set it on a piece of muslin (or a tea towel) that I've rubbed with a tablespoon or two of rice flour, then pick up the whole thing (gingerly) by the corners and set it to rise in an 8" bowl. After the pot is preheated, I upend the bowl (again, gingerly; it's an acquired motion) and gently dump the boule into the pot. The cloth comes right off if you use rice flour.

This cooking in a pot thing has changed bread baking completely for me. I have a gas oven that, no matter what I do, I cannot get enough steam into it to really affect the crust; it's just too well vented. Everything comes out the top as soon as it turns to steam. I've been puttting everything into the pot; raisin nut bread, sourdough, yeast, whatever; it all works great.

I know I'm going to have to move beyond it at some point; it's just going to be too hot to do it that way in the summer. I guess I'll have to read more on the no-preheat thread, and figure out how to solve my steam problem. Maybe just plunk a steel bowl down on top of my stone...

anyway, keep at it; slack dough seems weird at first, but you'll get used to it quickly!


Curmudgeon's picture

Curmudgeon from Canada

This whole sticky dough thing just didn't seem right to me.  I reduced the water to  1.5 cups.  Mixed the dough and then sprayed water on it to get it to a manageable non-sticky but moist state.  Into an oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap and let it ferment for 18-20 hours.  A whole lot easier to manage for the shaping step.


Curmudgeon's picture

 Curmudgeon from Canada

Once the sponge has been turned out on a floured board and folded and shaped, I return it to an oiled bowl for the proofing stage. The bowl is covered with a dampened towel. It slides out beautifully into the preheated ceramic bowl.