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Crusty, Rustic, No Knead Bread (aka the easiest bread you’ll ever make)

Seriously, this is THE easiest bread I think you can make. I am terrified of making bread, it always goes back to this one time a couple of years ago that I tried to make an Italian loaf and it turned out like a skinny rubber snake. An experience like that can scar you.

I came across this recipe on Pinterest here, and she found it on a couple of other sites, but as far as I can figure out it originated from Le Creuset. Makes sense seeing as it bakes in a Dutch oven.

UPDATE: Hayley messaged me with the actual originator of this recipe. It’s Jim Lahey and his recipe was featured in The New York Time’s Minimalist column here. It’s definitely worth a read because there are some tips and tricks for working with the loaf that I hadn’t seen on the Pinterest versions. Great find Hayley, so thank you! And thank you to Jim Lahey, my husband is now your biggest fan!

I was a little nervous as first. It seemed too simple, you know? But the pictures looked amazing and seeing as it was only going to use up 5 minutes of my time, I figured I’d be an idiot not to try.

Yes. You read that correctly.

This will only take 5 minutes of hands on time to make.

And there’s no kneading.

Seriously, it’s like magic or something.

Throw your flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. I really like glass bowls for rising dough, easier to gauge what’s going on.

1

Whisk it up.

2

Add the water (use room temperature water, you’re aiming for warm, but not hot).

3

Mix it up with a wooden spoon or spatula.

4

Cover it tightly with plastic wrap and let it rise. Now, directions say to let it rise for 12 to 18 hours. That doesn’t work for me who wants to prep it in the morning and eat it with dinner. I put this in the oven, with the oven light on. It works perfectly and rises in about 6 hours. Then just take it out and let it finish on the counter until you’re ready to bake it.

5

Beautifully risen dough.

6

This is the moment I started believing it was actually going to turn out.

7

Throw a bunch of flour down on your counter, put the dough on it, then put more flour on top of the dough.

8

Quickly shape it into a ball. This takes 1 minute. That’s it. At this stage, if you wanted too, you could mix some stuff in. Looking for ideas: rosemary, grated cheese (I’d go with an old cheddar), some roasted garlic, a combination of them, or anything else you can think of.

9

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave for 30 minutes. While this is resting put your Dutch oven, lid and all, into the pre-heated oven for the 30 minutes.

10

Put the ball of dough into the pre-heated Dutch oven, put the lid on it, and put it in the oven. I sprinkled some sea salt on top first. I suggest you do the same. Side note: this is one of the worst pictures I’ve taking in a long time, so sorry for the blur. I had a dog playing between my legs and was cooking dinner at the time too so no chance for a re-take.

11

After 30 minutes take off the lid; this is what the bread will look like at this point. Continue cooking for 15 more minutes. I’m new to the bread game, so I worry about the inside being done. There are two ways to gage this: first, when you knock on the loaf it should sound hollow. While a nice fact, I don’t trust myself to accurately gage “hollow”. I stick an instant read thermometer into the side of the loaf, if it registers 190ºF – 200ºF we’re good to go.

12

And this, my dears, is what I ended up with. I was just as amazed as you are. It was great too, a nice chewy interior and a super crisp exterior. Bo was in absolute heaven and his only comment: I wouldn’t be upset if you made this every night. On that note, I’ve got one rising in the oven for tonight as I type.

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Here’s the printable:

Crusty, Rustic, No Knead Bread (aka the easiest bread you’ll ever make)

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: PT8-18H50M

Yield: 1 loaf

Crusty, Rustic, No Knead Bread (aka the easiest bread you’ll ever make)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp yeast
  • 1½ cups warm water (not hot, think room temperature)

Instructions

  1. In a large glass bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and yeast. Stir in the water with a wooden spoon until a shaggy looking ball forms. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise for 12-18 hours. Alternatively, you can place the bowl in the oven with only the light turned on. The dough should rise in about 6 to 8 hours like this.
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 450ºF with a rack in the middle position.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a well floured counter. Add additional flour to the top of the dough and quickly form into a ball. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.While the dough is resting, place a large Dutch oven, with the lid on, into the pre-heated oven to warm for 30 minutes. You can also use any large, lidded cast iron or pyrex dish, so long as it can handle 450ºF.
  4. Place the dough ball into the heated Dutch oven, put the lid on, and bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove the lid and return to the oven for an additional 15 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown, sounds hollow when knocked on, and an instant-read thermometer registers between 190ºF and 200ºF.
  6. Let cool on a wire rack before cutting.
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36 comments

  1. I am glad that you tried it…I was nervous at first too!!!
    It makes sense that it would have originated from Le Creuset…I tried to find the original in my search but I guess I didn’t dig long enough!! :)
    I have been making this bread and bringing it to friends and they seriously think I am some expert baker until I explain how easy it is!!! :)

    • Hey Samantha, it is fabulous! My husband is such a fan of it, and a true bread lover, so that’s saying something. I’ll be making a bunch for Easter this weekend and bringing them too, I can’t get over how easy it is, and how delicious. Thank you for the introduction to the recipe.
      PS – love your site!

  2. This is Jim Lahey’s no knead bread first featured in the nyt’s minimalist column & went viral..? Yours looks beautiful :)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/08mini.html?pagewanted=all

    • Hey Hayley, Thanks for the link! I did a bit of searching after I saw it popping up all over Pinterest, but it just kept turning up Le Creuset. I love seeing the workings behind the bread, and it’s nice to find the rightful author too, I’ll add it to the actual post. There are some great tips in the article for a second rise, and adding more yeast if you don’t have a lot of time (and don’t use my oven with the light on cheat). Thanks again!

  3. What can I use if I don’t have a dutch oven or am I out of luck?

    • Hey Karla,
      Try it in a lidded casserole dish, like corningware, as long as it’s ok in 450 degrees F. If you had a large pyrex dish with a lid you could use it as well. If you don’t have a large dish, just split it up into 2 smaller loafs. Next time I make it I’ll double the dough and try some out of the pot, just on a stone or baking sheet and see what happens. I think the only issue without having a lid would be the crust, it might not develop as well and get as crispy, but that’s just a guess. I’ll have to get back to you :)

  4. Dear Katrina, thanks a bunch for the recipe shared. I love to make home made bread but kneading puts me off. So, this no-knead technique is great. However, there’s much inconsistent power supply in my area such that we do our baking in charcoal oven. Please, what’s an alternative to ‘letting dough rise in the oven with light on for 6-8hrs’?

  5. Made it today. Followed the recipe exactly, let it rise 6 hours in the oven. Turned out perfectly!

  6. Just tried this recipe last night, baked it today and had my first slice. Have you made it with whole wheat before? I ask, because that is just what I happen to have in the cupboard and used and it didn’t turn out as spectacular as yours sounds or I’d hoped. It was also my dutch oven’s maiden voyage (as well as my first time using a dutch oven). Its got a lovely crust but the inside seems more dense than fluffy and despite using “whole wheat white” (a lighter, softer strain of wheat that is mean to be more similar to all purpose without any refining) came out kind of brown inside. I am thinking if I make it again but this time with the all purpose, that it will turn out beautiful, but was really hoping to keep up with the whole wheat in our diet. I just graciously buttered a slice and its tasting much better, but on its own it was a bit reminiscent of a pretzel that got smokey LOL this could also be my fault bc I’d just seasoned the dutch oven before heating it for the dough and had to let it clear of smoke before using X_X doh!

    I will try again, and report back!

  7. I baked a loaf of this bread today following your instructions very carefully–except for using bread flour and instant yeast. The interior was good, but the crust was very hard. What do you think I did wrong?

    • Hey Herman,

      A couple questions for you. First off, what kind of pot did you bake it in? Next up, was the yeast you used still the granulated kind, or did you use fresh (usually in a block). I’ve made the bread with instant yeast (granulated), and with bread flour before without having a terribly hard crust. The bread usually comes out with a hard, crusty shell, but not what I would think of as very hard, and certainly not inedible. We’ll figure this out, promise!

      • Katrina, thank you for responding!

        On the bottom, I used a Lodge cast iron deep skillet, and covered it with another cast iron skillet.
        The two skillets are the same size at the top and seem to seal tightly.

        I used Fleischmann’s packaged RapidRise Highly Active Yeast. (Says instant yeast on the back of the package).

        My crust was inedible.

        • Ok, I’ve started to do a little digging around (as much as I could before the kids got up, lol). I found a bunch of advice on a few different sites. The two most popular suggastions were to:
          1 – no preheat your pan for as long, because it’s that first blast of heat that starts setting the crust. So try pre-heating the empty pan for only 10 minutes.
          2 – turn the oven temperature down a bit, to say 400 or 425.
          3 – mist a bit of water on the top of your loaf just before putting it in the oven.

          I would maybe start with trying the shorter pot pre-heat and the misting with water, but keeping the temperature at 450, then if it’s still a little too hard, try turning down the heat too.

          Here are a two of the sites I found that just seem to be a great general help to the baking of all breads.

          http://www.breadtopia.com/cooks-illustrated-almost-no-knead/
          http://www.thefreshloaf.com

          Let me know how the next one turns out, to see if we need to keep tweaking this!

  8. Hi! Can I use a 3.5 quart braiser with this recipe? This is what I have. Thanks! :-)

    • Hey AJ,

      I had to google to see a picture for the size = I’m a horrible food blogger. I was a little nervous about how shallow the pan is, but you’ll never know unless you give it a shot! My suggestion would be to shape the dough more into a disk, then a ball. I think you’ve got about 5-6″ in depth in that pan right? So maybe make the disk about 3″ high, still a bit rounded in the center. Just form it quickly like I do for the ball, don’t worry if it’s not perfect. I’d check it a bit sooner too, thinking that being thinner it should back faster. I would start with baking it covered for 20 minutes, then uncovered for 10 minutes and check the temperature with an instant read thermometer if you have one (you want 190℉)

      Let me know how it turns out!

  9. This is really a great bread. I’ve made it over and over and tweaked out some process adjustments …

    But still I have the following challenge – the bread is cooking way faster than the time(s) given.

    I am using a new enameled cast iron dutch oven. I bought it specifically for bread.
    It is was not expensive – and seems to work very well. (almost too well)

    I am baking in a fairly new convection oven in Europe and converting the temperature to Celsius.

    So 450F is aprox 230C
    I usually preheat for the 30 minutes (I am thinking this should be shorter for my circumstances)
    I bake with lid on for aprox 20 minutes and then lid off for about 10-15 at max
    the thermometer reading shoots up to 190+ very very quickly.

    So do I lower the over temperature, pre heat time and cooking???

    I am very new to baking and just moved to Sweden – so I have little experience to call upon.

    Thanks for any suggestions.

    ps – the crust can be a little hard (I read this in prior posts) but not inedible… I will try a spritz of water as mentioned….

    and – it has stuck a few times on me….

  10. Trying this for the first time. I couldn’t get the results you did when mixing the ingredients together. Mine was a powdery mess. I added 1/2 cup of water but it still seemed gritty and dry. It is in the oven now attempting to rise. I will let you know how it turns out.

  11. Ok, so far so good. It looks like it rised ok. Going into the oven shortly.

  12. This recipe turned out awesome! Thanks.

  13. It is soooo good. My doctor is not going to be happy, lol!

  14. Hi!

    I just made my first loaf following this recipe to the letter. However, I found it to be quite dense for my taste. I let it rise about 16 hours in a cold oven (no light or anything). So I don’t believe that was the problem. If I added a touch more yeast would this help? If so, how much do you suggest?

    Thanks!

    • Hey Amanda,

      I’m honestly not sure if adding more yeast would help you get a fluffy crumb, this is a pretty dense and heavy loaf when it’s finished. I’m still somewhat new to the whole bread baking thing, and I haven’t been able to get a soft loaf (like Italian) just the way I like it yet, so I haven’t posted anything. If you like soft and fluffy bread though, this roll recipe is incredible. Just leave the brushed topping off for traditional, non-sweet dinner rolls.

  15. Hi Katrina

    I am very new at bread baking. Would you please clarify couple of things. Does recipe uses instant yeast or active dry yeast. I think there is difference in rising time if one used over other. If substituted what will be the amount and will it compromise the results?
    Will love t try it. This is what exactly I was looking for.

    Thank you

    • Hi SM, Sorry I didn’t see this sooner, it’s been a hectic week!

      Ok, so, the recipe uses instant yeast, but if you’ve only got active dry yeast than go ahead and use that. A couple of points though.

      1. Add the yeast to a couple of tablespoons of the warm water and let bloom for 10 or 15 minutes before adding to the flour for mixing. Also, add a little bit more yeast if using active dry than called for, I would just use a heaping measuring spoon.

      2. The rise time is where I’m not positive. If you’re doing the over night, 18 to 24 hour rise then you shouldn’t have any issues. If you’re doing the quick rise in the oven with the light on, it’ll probably take a bit longer. Just watch it the first time to see how long it takes. You want the dough to double in size, and be somewhat wet and very bubbly looking.

      Good luck! I hope you enjoy it. I love sprinkling on a bit of flour and kosher salt just before it goes in the oven to bake, it gives the crust a great kick of flavour.

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