Mar 15

Foodie Resolutions: No-Knead Bread

in Uncategorized

At the beginning of the year when I was thinking about New Year’s Resolutions, I made a list of “Foodie Resolutions.” Included in my resolutions was a list of must-make recipes that I had been meaning to try and for some reason or another had never gotten around to.
At the top of the list was the No-Knead Bread recipe published in the New York Times back in November of 2006 that Mark Bittman procured from Jim Lahey, the owner of Sullivan Street Bakery in Manhatten. Yes, I know that every other food blogger in the universe has written about this recipe, but there is a reason for it–it’s just that good. As Mark Bittman writes, the recipe is “striking on several levels. It requires no kneading. (Repeat: none.) It uses no special ingredients, equipment or techniques. It takes very little effort.” All it requires is a little time and patience.

The process is simple. 4 ingredients (flour, the smallest bit of yeast, salt, and water) are mixed together into a very sticky dough and then left to sit in a covered bowl for about 18 hours.
Then you turn it out onto a floured board to sit for 15 minutes, quickly shape it, and then allow it to rise once more for about 2 hours.
Then you throw it in a preheated pot and bake it. That’s it. Seriously.
The result is a gorgeous boule that looks and tastes like it came straight from a French bakery. The crust is golden brown and crackly; the interior is light, flavorful, moist, and chewy.
Bittman explains that the method of baking the dough in a preheated pot mimics the results achieved by a steam-injected oven. He says, “By starting this very wet dough in a hot, covered pot, Mr. Lahey lets the crust develop in a moist, enclosed environment. The pot is in effect the oven, and that oven has plenty of steam in it. Once uncovered, a half-hour later, the crust has time to harden and brown, still in the pot, and the bread is done.” So much easier and more effective than methods I’ve used in the past, like adding pans of water with ice cubes in it to the oven to add some steam.
This loaf was such a nice way to jump back into One Good Loaf–easy and rewarding.
If you haven’t tried this recipe, go get started today! If you have, well, then you already know why I’m kicking myself for not having made this sooner.

No-Knead Bread
From The New York Times, adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
Makes one 1½-pound loaf

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

marissa buschow March 15, 2009 at 9:53 am

oh no, you’re in Bedford AND you write about food?
*adds blog to Reader


diva March 15, 2009 at 10:22 am

La Fuji Mama! i love you! this recipe is great for lazy bums like me :)
the bread looks great. and i’m liking the measuring spoons too. anything in green, i très adore.
hope you are well-rested and pampering yourself with lots of yummy food. xx


Jen March 15, 2009 at 10:42 am

Yay! Perfect for today after church! Thanks!


Jamaipanese March 15, 2009 at 1:13 pm

looks tasty, I’d have some of that bread right now


Madeline and Family March 16, 2009 at 1:01 am

Thanks for this one. I could use a loaf. I love that you have these Foodie goals. It just makes cooking that much more fun. Keep up the great work.


Angie  March 16, 2009 at 10:23 am

This is a good bread…I baked even twice after reading the report from The New York Times…..


Daily Spud March 16, 2009 at 4:37 pm

Can I kick myself now for not having tried this yet? :)


Amber March 16, 2009 at 4:44 pm

My bread is in the oven right now, but it was really hard to get off the towel, I had to peel it off! I hope it turns out! 45 minutes will tell!


Meg March 16, 2009 at 4:58 pm

Is this a good place to start if you have never made bread and would like to try?
What does as needed mean for the corn or bran meal?


Fuji Mama March 16, 2009 at 5:28 pm

Thanks everyone!

Diva–My mom gave me those measuring spoons and they are THE BEST! I’m actually going to be giving a set of them away here soon, so be on the lookout!

Amber–I had a hard time getting mine off the towel too, but it still turned out. My fingers are crossed for your bread!

Meg–Yes, this would be a great place to start! The directions for using corn or bran meal as needed refer to the part of the recipe which directs you to “Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal.” In other words, there’s not an exact amount called for, just use a lot!


LollyChops March 17, 2009 at 6:39 am

Ok I have heard about this bread from you.. but seeing it like this makes me feel all french and provencial… meaning not my usual self… so since I want to feel all fancy I MUST give this a try in my pumpkin pot!!!! I am over the top excited about this!

wow… you have done it again Fuji!

…and P.S. I love those spoons. really.. a giveaway? gulp. I can hardly wait!



Goldie March 17, 2009 at 11:17 pm

I have been wanting to try that exact same recipe for a year when I first saw it in the Williams-Sonoma magazine, but I didn’t have a dutch oven. Finally, I got one as an early birthday present last week! What luck. Glad you got to try it. I can’t wait.


pictfamily March 18, 2009 at 7:06 am

this looks great – I’ll give it a try. I’m usually too lazy to knead so just rely on my breadmaker – it’s not the same though


chez aurora March 24, 2009 at 7:08 pm

That looks really good :)Interesting! I just saw Jacque Pepin do something like this on TV this Sunday! So simple!


Tina April 2, 2009 at 10:30 am

My husband makes this bread all of the time and it’s awesome! Actually though he uses the recipe that Cook’s Illustrated published last year that was based on this recipe and technique. He has modified it to 1 part wheat and 3 parts bread flour and that makes it even better IMO. We don’t have the issue with the towel because CI must have had the same issue and used a different technique! He puts a piece of parchment paper in a 10in skillet and sprays the parchment paper with cooking spray. Then places the shaped bread in that to rise. Then, you just pick up the entire piece of parchment paper and put it in the dutch oven. Voila! He also uses beer as part of the liquid. Yum!! I actually just posted about this bread on my blog the other day as I was having it for a snack with some homemade strawberry jam. Everyone should try it!


Sarah April 24, 2009 at 7:25 am

tried this a few times and it wasn’t bad, just pretty messing and sticky, like an incredible glob.


Frieda May 4, 2009 at 7:18 pm

Congratulations! The first time I made this, it stuck to my towel…I just added more flour to the towel. You are now read to try the no knead rolls (video on my blog) or add olive oil and rosemary to it….divine!


Lyndsey Brown November 27, 2010 at 9:17 am

I frequently make this bread (I have Lahey’s book) and it’s fabulous. The key to get it not to stick when you turn the dough out for a second rise is to use a tea towel. If it’s a cotton or flour sack towel, the dough will hold on too much. And lots of flour is always helpful.


Michelle October 12, 2012 at 1:19 am

I have been making the ‘almost-no-knead’ version of this bread from breadtopia for a couple of years now. For the past twenty years I have always avoided baking bread. it seemed so scary. But after making this a few times I have not looked back!


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