The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

No-Knead Recipe Assistance Please!!

moldy's picture

No-Knead Recipe Assistance Please!!


This is my first post here.

I have recently started making the Cooks Illustrated No-Knead Bread 2.0 (or Almost No-Knead Bread). I have had great results with the white four and the wholemeal flour recipes. However, last week I decided to break from the recipe, and try something different. My favourite local bakery bread makes a Malt and Linseed Sourdough, which I wanted to try and emulate using the no-knead method.

The result was a reasonable failure. The dough was far too wet, and I got almost no rise in the oven (although the dough did rise considerably when resting for the 18 hours).

Basically I did the following:
350g Bread Flour
75g Rye Flour
9g Salt
2g Instant Yeast
210ml Water
90ml Lager
15ml White Vinegar
2 tbsp Liquid Malt Extract
Unknown small amount of whole flax seed soaked and drained

So I have a few questions:

  1. When I soaked the flax seed, they absorbed an unknown amount of water. The effect of soaking was also to make the soaking water gelatinous. I hypothesise that even though I drained the seeds before adding, a certain (perhaps large) amount of the gelatinous water was transferred to the dough mix. So I am wondering how much water flax seeds absorb - and what is the correct amount of water to add so that the seeds soften, but doesn't add extra water to the dough mix.
  2. I'm not sure what effect substituting 75g of Rye Flour might have had - either in relation to the no-knead method, or to the amount of water needed or the interaction with malt.
  3. I'm not sure what effect adding 2 tbsp of Liquid Malt Extract might have had. I suspect not much other than flavour or crust or colour - given that the Cooks Illustrated wholemeal recipe calls for 2 tbsp of honey.

If anyone here has experience, or is able to point me in the right direction, then I'd be grateful. Apologies if the answers are already in the forum somewhere - I've been searching this site and google for days with limited success!

Cheers, Moldy.

mrfrost's picture

Why so much yeast? Most of these nk recipes call for only about ¼ tsp of yeast. I guess you could use more yeast, but then the dough would ferment much faster and be ready to bake in a much shorter period of time(all other things being equal).

The over fermentation means the yeast was about spent(dead from being out of food), so they were not there to give much of a final rise and oven spring. The over-fermentation also contributed to the apparent extra moisture as that is what over-fermentation does, especially when it's well over-fermented.

So try cutting the yeast in half, or more. You probably don't need any more than the ¼ tsp, especially if you are waiting 18 hrs.  Maybe cut back a couple, or 3, tablespoons on the recipe water. Adjust for the final dough consistency you were used to when things worked well. Maybe you will have to add the 2 or 3 tablespoons back.  Or if it's still too wet when you are ready to bake, fold(or knead) in a little extra flour(as much as needed). Then you will know the next time to cut even a little more water.

Maybe try drying the soaked flax seeds off a bit in a cloth or paper towel, so they don't affect the final dough hydration.

And yes, rye tends to make doughs more sticky, relatively speaking, although I don't know if the amount you used would cause a noticeable difference. You might try whole wheat next time and until you get things perfected and then see how the rye works.

Also, a very remote possibility that the malt added to the over-fermentation issue, as yeast love malt and maybe fed even faster. Again, very remote. Just make sure the malt is non-diastatic. Almost all malt syrup is.

Have you seen a video of this recipe at breadtopia. He has a lot of videos that were of great help to me when I started out.

Good luck.

CelesteU's picture

The easiest solution is to measure the 210 ml water, then pour a portion of it over the flax.  Use the rest of the water to mix the dough, then add the soaked flax & its soaking liquid/gel into the loaf.  If the initial mix seems dry, the soaked flax will help to smooth it out.

taurus430's picture

I've used everything in my no knead breads you have, but at different times. Not familiar with the grams/ml amounts, but Lahey's method uses only 1/4 tsp yeast. The beer bread subs beer for water and I've used seeds in my no knead bread, without soaking. I usually use the seeds on the outside of the dough. I've used barley malt syrup in place of sugar and only 1/4 cup of rye or WW flour as they do not have the gluten, so I compensate using bread flour. Check out my recipe on here for carrot bread as a guide. If using ABin5 method, then yes that uses more yeast, but a different method altogether. I get better results baking boules in a pot verses on a stone. I bake all my rolls, flatbreads, ciabatta on pans. The recipe I have is this baked in a dutch oven. I would follow the basic recipe and just tweak it. The no knead recipe is very forgiving, no need to weigh from my experience.

3 cups(15oz) bread flour
¼ tsp. dry yeast
1 ½ tsp salt
.75 cup plus 2 tbsp (7oz) water at room temp
.25 cup plus 2 tbsp (3oz) lager
1 tbsp. white vinegar


Ambimom's picture

Bread is a living thing, especially sourdough.  The value of the Cook's Illustrated technique is that it requires some kneading, which will give you all the information you need -- pun intended.  You know what your dough is supposed to feel like.  If the dough feels too wet, then add a bit more flour.  Environment has a lot to do with the dough conditions.  Heat and humidity will affect it.  Measuring flour water,, by weight is important for consistency, but it is not foolproof.  As for having the dough flop in the oven, it is probably because you let it rise too long for the yeast you were using.  At some point yeast dies, which is what happened to yours.  The good news is that now you know that 18 hours is too long. 

taurus430's picture

I believe your points here are for conventional methods of making bread, not no knead. The only thing with no knead is making sure the yeast and flour are good. I use instant yeast for all my baking, finding this works the best for me and it's no fail. As far as the other points you mention, it's no knead and 12-18 hours for proofing, final 2hrs for proof, that's it!

taurus430's picture

Here is a pic of my seeded bread. I wouldn't use any more than 1 cup of other flours with the bread or AP flour. Here I used 1/2 cup WW flour and baked it in La Cloche clay baker. I normally seed the outside when forming. My carrot bread came out really good, with added walnuts, but the walnuts do not affect the dough.



moldy's picture

Hi all - and many thanks for your replies and advice. I will put some of it into practice this weekend.

Why so much yeast?

Jim Lahey's book uses 2g of instant yeast in his Whole Wheat and Rye recipes. He uses 1g of instant yeast in his basic recipe. So I was simply using this quantity because I wasn't using 100% bread flour.

Maybe try drying the soaked flax seeds off a bit in a cloth or paper towel, so they don't affect the final dough hydration.

I will definitely try doing this. I thought there might be a standard amount of water that flax seeds absorbed (for example, 75% of their dry weight in water) - but if I can't find an answer to that question, then I will have to try eliminating some of the excess water before adding. The difficulty is that the water becomes so gelatinous that it might prove difficult to eliminate. I suppose I could rinse in fresh water, and then dry the seeds.

The easiest solution is to measure the 210 ml water, then pour a portion of it over the flax...

I did think of this. However, the problem I saw was that as the flax seeds would absorb some of the water, there would be less available for the dough. I don't consider myself experienced enough to be able to estimate the preferred consistency of the initial mix of ingredients.

The no knead recipe is very forgiving, no need to weigh from my experience.

The recipe you have given me is the same one that I have been using except in volume rather than weight. The only difference is the amount of yeast - which I increased in line with the Jim Lahey recipes. However, I will try reducing that next time I make a loaf.

From what I've read in your advice, it looks like two things have likely happened - both of which I can attempt to remedy:
1. the yeast has been left to rise for too long, and
2. there was too much water in the dough (I am almost certain of this)

As to point 2. rather than trial and error (and to save me having to rinse and dry out the soaked seeds) does anybody know the absorption rate of flax seeds? Or know where I might look to find out? I suppose I can work this out myself by weighing a quantity of unsoaked seeds, and then soaking/drying them and reweighing. But any clues in the interim?

Many thanks again, Moldy


FlourChild's picture

I remember seeing Lahey's yeast adjustment for whole wheat and thinking, "but don't you also have to shorten fermentation time?".  Both the higher yeast level and the increased whole grain will shorten fermentation time in any bread.  My suggestion would be to use volume increase as a guide for the bulk fermentation, you may end up cutting the time to half or even less of the 18 hours he uses for white flour.

Norma's picture

Quick yeasts are toxic  1984 in East-West Journal, Ronald Kotsch describes why conventionally yeasted bread contributes to disease"In (conventional) yeast fermentation, the starch cells of the bread actually explode. The patterns they form are identical to those of cancer cells.  According to French researcher Jean Claude Vincent, the bio-electrical energy of the dough also is identical to that of cancer cells."   According to Walter Last, “Undigested gluten from quickly risen bread can seriously weaken the intestinal wall. Its effect on the tiny absorption villi in the small intestine may be compared to the action of sandpaper on wood. Animal experiments have shown that the intestinal absorption villi are long and slender before they come into repeated contact with wheat protein. Afterwards, they become blunt and broad, with a much-reduced ability to absorb. This greatly contributes to the widespread incidence in our society of people with problems of malabsorption and who are missing out on vital nutrients. In such people, not only are the absorption villi blunted, the irritation caused by the sandpaper effect of gluten produces a protective mucus coating over the intestinal wall and this makes it still more difficult for nutrients to pass through the intestinal wall.”Thus we find gluten, and especially wheat gluten, implicated in malabsorption diseases, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, cancer, diabetes, and just about every disease under the sun. When things go wrong in our guts we do not receive the nutrition we need. Malnutrition is one of the major factors that lead to disease including cancer. Since bread and wheat products are such an important part of daily food consumption, it follows that such food items be healthy and wholesome. Today's milling, refining, bleaching, enriching, and addition of various chemicals to flour and baked breads cause many scientists and medical workers to question their nutritional quality as well as their safety

   I have joined this sight to find ''Sourdough  Recipes'' in the hopes of improving my health and that of my family and friends. So far the use of sourdough bread has had  wonderful benefits of friends and family members with diabetes. as it reduces the G.I. index of bread from 100 to 64 and reduces the fluxuation of the sugar levels for more  than 6 hours.  If you would like the rest of the benefits of sourdough contact me through this sight.

    Some flour companies have replaced iodine in the flour with bromine as a proofing agent, which blocks iodine absorption and cause thyroid problems and cancer. 

Happy Sourdough Baking

taurus430's picture

I read your post and find it interesting. I try to eat healthy and with that, had to downsize on carb intake. I stopped using bleached flour and use unbleached now, as I understand chemicals are used to bleach the flour. I would think the no knead method is an overnight ferment plus a 2 hour proof, which is better compared to other methods. Now when you say sourdough bread has better results on your health, I know as sourdough being added to a recipe. How would this be different for your health?

Norma's picture

My No Knead Recipe

1 c active starter  

1 1/2 c water, 

1 tbsp. malt liquid

5c  A.P. flour  

2 tsp. salt

1 c active starter   1 1/2 c water, 1 tbsp. malt liquid optional,   mix well in measuring cup

3c  A.P. flour  2 tsp. salt, in kitchen aid   mix,   add starter and mix till sides come clean add

2 c  A.P.flour gradually to dough in mixer till all is incorporated.

When all flour is added and dough is firm and not sticky place on floured surface and dived into 2 equal parts, let rest for 30 min. shape into loaves put into pans, place in oven on pizza stone or tiles with light on, mist oven every 15 min.  till quadruple the size turn oven on to 425%F and  mist 3x in first 15 min  bake for 35 min.  


You can add 1/4 c whole fax seed or other whole seed  to last 2 c flour without changing the recipe it seams the steam soften the seed. I have only use flax, sesame and chia this way. 

This is my basic recipe and since my hubby does not like change it is a slow process for me as, I like to experiment.



We make crape from tired starter

This revitalizes the starter


1c tired starter 1 1/2 c flour, 1 water mix well and let rest covered in oven with light on over night


remove 1 c starter refrigerate

1 beaten egg,

1 tbsp. sugar

1 tbsp. melted butter 

3/4 tsp. salt, 

3/4 tsp. baking soda,

2 tbsp. milk

All ingredients should be at room temperature  beat together and it is ready to cook

Heat large frying pan with 2 tbsp. oil add enough dough to spread a light lair over bottom of pan when top dries and bubbles stop, turn brown the other side and remove from pan to plate butter roll add your favorite topping and enjoy