Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I Feel the Need...the Need for No-Knead!

Nothing hits the spot quite like homemade bread.  And nothing is better than finding an awesome recipe.  Unless it is an awesome recipe that is also easy.

I have been on the hunt for a great crusty bread that wasn't a ridiculous amount of work.

And I found it!  As my sister once said regarding a great recipe find "Cue the Barbra Streisand song...'Ooooh, this is it!  Oooh, I finally found [the one]!" ("the one" recipe instead of "someone"...Barbra Streisand was singing a love song...it wasn't about food).

Also, just like the line from Top Gun that was my inspiration for this blog post title, not only are these no-knead breads, but they are also speedy to throw together too.  So, you can feel the need for speed and the need for no-knead at the same time!

I'm telling you, this is like a crusty loaf of artisan bread that you would buy in a bakery.  And it couldn't be easier.  Plus, when you read the ingredients, you're going to say to yourself "That's it?  It sounds too good to be true."  The recipe author noted that "This crusty bread gets its complex flavors and chewy interior from a long, slow fermentation--just like you'd get from an artisan bakery."  The recipe includes two different versions: white crusty bread and herb crusty bread.  The white bread is so good.  It is really yummy plain or with a little butter spread on it.  The herb bread is also super delicious.  It tastes very similar to the bread that you get at Macaroni Grill.  I made an absolutely fantastic tomato sandwich for lunch one day using the herb bread.  I spread the bread with a little bottled pesto, topped it with tomato slices and a basil leaf.  Holy cow, it was good!

Above: Here is the non-herb version of the bread.  Sadly, I forgot to take pictures of the herb bread.  I guess I'll just have to make it again to get pictures of it...poor me.  :)  By the way, my bread had that little circle formation at the top because some of the dough stuck to the kitchen towel when I transferred it to my Dutch oven.  I saved what I could and just plopped it on top of the ball of dough in my Dutch oven.  I guess I'll just have to make another white loaf of this bread too so that I can get some more pictures...ah shucks. :)

And just for fun, I'm also sharing another no-knead bread recipe.  This one isn't a crusty artisan-style bread.  But it is a quick, easy and great alternative to your traditional kneaded white bread.  It is dense and dinner roll-like.  It is great plain and fantastic with butter and jam too.

So, enjoy some homemade bread sometime soon...because it is soooo easy!

No-Knead Artisan Style Bread


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 2/3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, optional
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, optional
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage, optional


Combine the flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl and mix to combine.  Add the water and herbs, if using, and mix well.  The dough will be very sticky and shaggy-looking.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for 18-24 hours.

Generously flour a work surface. The dough will have risen and will be covered in bubbles. Transfer the dough to the work surface and dust it with flour. Fold the dough in half, and then form the dough into a ball by stretching and tucking the edges of the dough underneath the ball.

Liberally flour a kitchen towel (do not use terrycloth). Place the dough ball on the floured towel. Cover with another floured towel. Let the dough rise for about two hours.

Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F. (230 degrees C). Place a lidded Dutch oven or deep heavy duty casserole dish (with lid) into the oven to preheat.

Carefully remove the hot baking dish from the oven. Remove the lid and gently turn the dough ball into the ungreased baking dish, seam-side up; shake the dish so the dough is more evenly distributed.

Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake until the crust is golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Remove the loaf from the baking dish and let it cool on a rack before slicing.

Recipe notes: Store in a paper bag.  Wrap cut end with plastic wrap.  This will keep the crust crispy (if you put the loaf into a plastic zip-top bag or wrap it completely in plastic wrap, the crust will become soft and chewy and will lose it's crusty texture).  This is best eaten the day of or within a day after baking.

Source: Allrecipes.com, submitted by Jewissa.  You can find the recipe here.

Yield: One 1 1/2 pound loaf.

Notes: I made this twice.  Once without herbs and once with herbs.  It is absolutely delicious both ways.  It just depends on what you're in the mood for!

Above: Here is the bread made with herbs in it.

The first step is so easy.  It takes only 5 minutes to throw together.  Then you let it rise for 18-24 hours.

When the recipe says to "generously flour a work surface," they aren't kidding.  You need a LOT of flour on the work surface and I would suggest sprinkling the top of the dough with flour too.  Oh, and flour your hands too.  It is a very wet and sticky dough.  Even after it rises for the second time, it's still wet and sticky.

The first time I made this, I used a kitchen towel (not terrycloth) and it stuck to the dough a little bit after rising.  The second time I made this, I used waxed paper and it worked a lot better for me.  Just less of a mess.

I cooked it in a Dutch oven (like the kind you use when you go camping...not the fancy, ceramic $50-$100 Dutch ovens).

After making this, I did some more online research and found a number of similar (in most cases, almost exact) recipes.  Everyone had great success with it.  Many people tried different variations.  Such as adding cheese, chopped olives, etc.

Apparently, this recipe is verrrry popular!  And for good reason!  Some of these recipes feature variations (such as different add-ins or baking it on a baking stone instead of in a heavy pot).  Some of them also vary the amount of water or yeast that is used.  But I think this is a no-fail recipe and can be tweaked and experimented with quite successfully!

I can't wait to try it again and again...and try different variations myself!

Here's what appears to be the version that started it all from the NY Times.  I tried it, so I will include the recipe below:

Above: Here is the finished product of the recipe by Jim Lahey from New York Times.

No-Knead Bread, recipe by Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery


3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed, optional


In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast, and salt.  Add 1 5/8 cup water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap.  Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably 18 (and as long as 24), at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

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.

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, wheat 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.

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 the towel and turn the dough over into the pot; seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is okay. 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 15-30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1 1/2 pound loaf.

Source: New York Times (the original link can be found above...right before this recipe).

Notes: I really liked this recipe. It is almost identical to the first one I tried, but it calls for instant (or rapid-rise) yeast instead of active dry yeast, a little more water and less salt.  I liked the taste of the bread with less salt.

But I like that I have both versions of the recipe on hand depending on what kind of yeast I have in my fridge.

This was delicious!

Here are some more versions for you to check out and glean ideas from:

Here's a version I found on the Martha Stewart website. This one is apparently supposed to be the same one as the NY Times recipe above...it is attributed to Jim Lahey as well.  However, there are some differences--perhaps missprints--it says to bake the bread at 500 degrees instead of 450 degrees F.  I did so and my bread crust got burned on the bottom and I had to cut it off.  It also used less water and somehow (perhaps from getting burned?) the bread's flavor wasn't quite as good.  But all of the reviews on the site were positive, so maybe I was the only one who botched it.  But the original New York Times recipe and the recipe from Allrecipes.com have been easy and no-fail for me so far, so I'm sticking with them.

Here it is from Steamykitchen.

From Taste and Tell.

From Simply So Good.

From Yum Sugar.

From From Away.

From Cooking for Seven.

From Wee-Eats.

From The Italian Dish.

From Artisan Bread in Five.

From A Garden for the House.

From Please Note Paper.

From Dishing the Divine.

From Budget Bytes.

Heck, just check out the Pinterest page that comes up when you search for "no-knead bread!"

This many people can't be wrong!  Trust me, this is the easiest, tastiest, best crusty artisan-style bread you will ever eat or make!

No-Knead Bread


3 packages dry yeast (about 6 3/4 teaspoons)
3 3/4 cups warm water (100 to 110 degrees F)
10 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons stick margarine, melted (I used butter)
1 tablespoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Cooking spray


Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups  and level with a knife.

Add flour and next 4 ingredients to yeast mixture, stirring until well-blended. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees F), free from drafts, 30 minutes or until doubled in size. (Press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.) Spoon dough evenly into 3 (9x5 inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Let rise 20 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped and are nicely browned.

Yield: 3 loaves, 16 servings per loaf (serving size 1 [1/2 inch] slice).

Nutrition information: 111 calories, 1.9 g fat, 2.9 g protein, 20.1 g carb, 0.8 g fiber, 9 mg chol, 1.2 mg iron, 166 mg sodium, 6 mg calc.

Source: The Complete Cooking Light Cookbook, ISBN: 0-8487-1945-X.

Notes: This was just a good, easy, hit-the-spot kind of recipe.  Plus, since it makes three loaves, it makes a great gift too!  Give a loaf with a jar of homemade or nice store-bought jam and voila!  The perfect gift!


  1. I have tried the bread and can witness that it is way yummy. Mmmm.

  2. And you tried the two-day-old bread that I had unwittingly put in a zip-top bag before I realized that it would make the bread crust chewy instead of crusty. Even then, it's still amazing bread!

    I can't wait for you to try it when it's fresh.