Check out my new book, The Non-Toxic Avenger: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You, available from Amazon.

2012 Silver winner in the Health/Medicine/Nutrition Category of the Independent Publishers Book Awards

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Do you need to try no knead bread?

No knead breadThe New York Times has been posting recipes for something they call a "no knead" bread where you leave the dough to an extensive rise to avoid having to bother with kneading this homemade bread. Several other publications have picked up on this no knead bread recipe, adding their own spin on it.

When I first read these recipes, I was quite excited to give it a try since, not only was it easier not having to knead the dough, but since it required a long rise, you could start it at night and bake it in the morning, thus fitting baking bread around a relatively busy schedule without babysitting multiple rises all day long.

The original No-Knead Bread Recipe was an abject failure around our house. It barely rose and ended up being a flat, hard disk that took forever to bake to get to temperature. It was edible, but certainly not something I wanted to invest the time in repeating. Since then, I've seen other adjustments to the original recipe, but haven't given it a try again.

When the NYT published an updated recipe a few weeks ago, this time for a Fast No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread, I was excited to give it another try since the recipe was totally different, the rise time was shorter and I prefer whole wheat. Plus, you bake it in a loaf pan and didn't need to mess around with a dutch oven like the original. (They also posted an updated, even faster Speedy No-Knead Bread.)

I tried baking a loaf of it yesterday, but when I cut and pasted the recipe from the website, Windows mysteriously ejected the salt part of the ingredients list and I ended up with a inedible hockey puck of a bread loaf. It went into the compost. When I was eating it I immediately realized that something was missing: salt. So, when I went back to check on the recipe, lo and behold, there it was. The missing salt. So, I'll have to try it again.

Have any of you tried making the no knead bread? I hope you are having better luck with it than I.

Some of you have asked what my favorite homemade bread recipe is. I've posted it over on Crunchy Chicken Cooks, if you'd like to try it out.

Related posts:
Make your own yogurt
Holy cow! I made my own butter

44 comments:

Mary said...

I haven't tried the recipe, but in Home Ec in junior high we watched a video about breadmaking that included a bit about using a food processor. Haven't done this in a while, but I found a few recipes online:
http://www.kitchenlink.com/cookbooks/2000/0811816869_1.html
I don't mind kneading bread at all, but I know some people either don't like to or have problems like arthritis.

Mon said...

But kneading bread is the fun part! lol especially for the opportunity to have kids join in.
Ok, ok, I have to admit, leaving a bread to rise overnight for the morning is tempting....

Samantha said...

I've made the NYT version many times, and it's always come out really well. I never bothered to use white flour as I never, ever, ever consume white/refined flour. I just used whole wheat from the get-go. It's made a lovely bread every time. Great crust, soft inside, excellent when spread with Earth Balance.

Aaahh. If only all of our cooking supplies weren't in storage. I'd whip up a batch right now.

Samantha said...

Oh, I should add that I've always let mine rise for AT LEAST 18 hours, usually closer to a full 24, so maybe that's why mine worked and yours didn't...?

kidk4m said...

I make several loaves of whole wheat bread every couple of weeks and freeze them. When I run out..I make more. I "cheat" though-I use a bread machine.It uses, surprisingly, very little electriciy. We use bulk ingredients (no bread mixes) and so it's very inexpensive to make. While I enjoy kneading etc., bread making takes over our tiny kitchen and since we unplugged our stove a couple years ago, I was looking for an alternative to having to plug in the oven for baking.I don't even bother layering the ingredients..just mix everything together (even the sunflower seeds)-3hrs40min start to finish.

Deb G said...

I've made it several times-even bought a book with a collection of recipes.

I'm really liking what I've come up with, but I have to agree with Samantha, that it usually needs a lot longer to rise than what is suggested. For me, it's probably because my house is so chilly. :)

Suzan said...

I have made some of these bread recipes and all worked. Unfortunately I have lost those links when my old computer decided to exit the world.

I like to knead though. One lady I knew said she thought it helped you cope with the worst things in life as you pummelled the dough.

Leila said...

I've made the no-knead bread many times, using whole wheat in part (not total). Always worked for me. I don't have the right size/shape Dutch oven so I use earthenware covered casseroles and heat at 450, no higher. No problem.

Thanks for alerting me to the NY Times no-knead update. I was out of the country and missed it. I am a fan.

There was a follow-up in the Times last year that didn't require the Dutch ovens.

Greenpa said...

eyow. Pretty terrible luck. I don't know what the factor is, but we've had really good luck with the earlier recipies; haven't tried the new "fast" version.

We only make it in winter, and usually give it a 18-24 hour rise time. Sometimes longer- at an average of maybe 60°F.

Takes a long time to bake it; but the result is excellent.

Sue said...

I've never made it before (and I'm not likely to now that I've gone gluten free) but wanted to point out that you can totally leave your regular knead bread to rise overnight, especially if your kitchen is cool (like, say, if you're freezing your buns?). You just punch it down and proof it in the morning. The lengthy rise really improves the depth of flavor.

Matt said...

I'm just going to say what needs to be said; I think the problem might have been the baker not the baking.

;-)

This is almost the only bread I cook. I usually let it rise for at least 22 hours. I usually use 1/3 tsp of yeast. I also crank the heat to 475-500 to warm the oven and then toss the bread in the pan and turn it down to 425. When I put it in for its bench proof I also do knead it pretty good for 5 minutes or so, but that's still a lot less time than a normal artisan loaf.

Works almost every time. I like how it ferments the dough so well before it cooks.

Jennifer said...

I've been switching between using my bread machine and a no knead recipe since January. Haven't bought a loaf from the store since. If I get too lazy to even use those methods, we don't eat bread. I have arthritis in my hands and shoulders, and while kneading may actually help, I'm just not up to it right now.

The no-knead recipes take practice, just like the standard ones. I use the recipes in "Artisan Bread
in Five Minutes a Day." Some work better than others. Their basic recipe is one of the recipes featured in the NYT.

Here's a link to the author's blog. http://zoebakes.com/?page_id=62. I've linked to the media page which has tons of video demonstrations. With a little digging you can also get to board discussions where people talk about weighing the ingredients instead of measuring. That might help. The brand of flour you use can affect things as well. The author recommends King Arthur flour, which is pricey, but you might learn something by trying it. And get an oven thermometer so you know your oven is heating to temp. I've found that preheating 50 degrees above and then lowering it once the bread goes in yields better results. But that's my oven. I've also found longer rise times help. And depending on the recipe, I cheat by using bread flour, which has more gluten, instead of all-purpose. A probe thermometer also helps while you're experimenting. Bread is done when it's 200 degrees in the center.

Have fun experimenting. Underdone bread can be toasted in the broiler and hockey pucks probably make great bread pudding!

sciencegeeka said...

I tried it, but it just didn't work for me. In addition to the long periods of time, I actually have a mixer with a dough hook, so it didn't actually do any 'time saving'.

Maeve said...

I have the Tassajara Bread Book, and love it. I'd only try the no-knead dough recipes if I physically couldn't knead the bread and didn't have a bread machine. Between kids and cats, I wouldn't want to leave bread to rise for 18+ hours. heh.

Maeve said...

I should clarify that I meant "a bread machine to do the mixing part of the bread process" because I don't really like to cook bread in the bread machine. Mine usually does something funky to the loaf, and I end up with a lot of "bread crumb" hunks. :)

arif said...

The no-knead never had enough flavor for me, so for about the last year, I've been making sourdough using a firm starter. It works perfectly every time, and the best part is that like the no-knead, I can mix it up in the evening and then bake it the morning while getting the kids fed and out the door. It takes a little while to get into the rhythm of baking bread that has long rise periods, but once you do, it is very easy and the results are really fantastic.

And - if you're in MN and want some of my starter, let me know!

jennconspiracy said...

I haven't made bread in an embarrassingly long time -- part of the problem is space (I don't have a great place to knead or let bread rise). That said - I am not sure of the advantage of the no knead version. I never did mind kneading - it always loosened up my hands when I had arthritis problems and went pretty quickly, actually.

I plan to give it a go - read about the no knead method on Cook's Illustrated and am intrigued.

Crunchy - next time you have hockey puck bread - don't toss it out! Slice it up, cube it, let it dry and get stale, then throw it in the skillet with a sprinkle of sea salt and olive oil to toast it up and grind it into bread crumbs. mmmm.... bread crumbs! (I'm still on my Tomates a la Provence kick... can you tell?)

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

I have not ever made no-knead bread, but I do subscribe to a WONDERFUL cooking magazine called Cooks Illustrated. They test every recipe over 100 times, trying to replicate outcomes from different environments & circumstances. Anyway, they have a great recipe for it but you can't get it online unless you're a member (for cost) of the website. So if you'd like the recipe, just contact me via email and I'll type it all in and send it to you.

Michelle said...

When the original No-Knead Bread recipe came out, we were huge fans of the crust but not the flavor or the timeframe. We're now devotees of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which Jennifer mentioned. It has amazing flavor, the same crackly crust of the no-knead, and a much more forgiving timeline. The dough needs to rise at room temperature for at least 40 minutes, but then you can keep four loaves' worth of dough in the refrigerator for up to two weeks to bake off at an hour's notice. You can even shape your loaf the night before, let it rise in the refrigerator overnight and then throw it in a cold oven the next morning. And you can pull it out of the fridge for last-minute pizza nights.

The recipe for the white boule is available here. I've had great success substituting 1/3 of the all-purpose flour with white whole wheat flour--you can use more or even all white whole wheat, but you'll lose the awesome crackly crust. The book has 100% whole wheat recipes that bake in a loaf pan if you don't want to mess with a pizza stone.

Rosa said...

arif, I'm in south Minneapolis and I would *love* some sourdough starter. I could trade dried apples or apple butter, I have a ton of that.

Carrie and Justin said...

I have to admit, I'm a big ole cheater when it comes to baking bread! I have a bread machine that I use for mixing the dough, then I put it into a loaf pan, let it rise & bake.
I really hate having to do it that way, but I bake all of our bread and it always seemed like every time I tried to mix & knead one of the kids would get needy and interrupt the process. So, the bread machine for dough making has been my life-saver.
I need to branch out more though. I always make a sourdough bread, using whole wheat flour that I "convert" into self-rising flour. I really need to bake some more styles of bread!

Robj98168 said...

Beer Bread is my favorite no-knead bread. Easy to make, easy to bake.

Carrie and Justin said...

I LOVE baking beer bread! It is so fun to experiment with too. One of our favorite twists on it is to use a Young's Double Chocolate Stout beer and then add raspberry chocolate chips as well. Super yummy!

Wroth said...

I made it a few times last year after the recipe came out, but once the weather got warm, it was back to the bread machine (we buy bagels, but make all our own loaves). I was using Pyrex to bake in, but I've read the high heat can cause shattering, so I'm coveting a Le Creuset dutch oven for this purpose (and others, of course). I'm looking forward to trying the WW version they've recently posted. Fresh, homemade bread is a real pleasure--we have a loaf baking now!

Jennifer said...

My favorite no-knead recipe is this one:
http://www.cooks.com/rec/doc/0,184,157178-241195,00.html

It's easy and moist. Dense, but not puck-like.

I've been using a bread maker for the last few months instead... it really does cut down on the time involved.

Rachel Lynn said...

I too was excited when I saw the NY Times article, but my attempt at the whole wheat no-knead was a failure. It didn't rise much, and the taste was strange, I don't think I liked the cornmeal.

Not impressed. Plus, four hours is hard, if they could come up with something that takes about 8 hours, so you could let it rise overnight or while at work.

I'm sticking with my bread machine to knead. Much easier, less time, and consistent results.

PsychMamma said...

I tried one that you bake in a cast iron dutch oven. I personally thought there were enough steps that it wouldn't have been that much harder to knead it. Anyway, it turned out horribly. Didn't taste right and was too tough to chew. Sigh. I haven't had the courage to try again yet.

LHT Rider said...

We've had good luck with the original no-knead recipe using a hot dutch oven, although we stopped making it because we haven't yet replaced the plastic knob on the lid. We tried 3 times with the whole-grain recipe that was posted in the NYT on 10/8/08. We enjoyed the flavor, but it *really* didn't rise enough. The first loaf we had the dough in the fridge overnight & let it rise almost 3 hours at room temperature (~61 F) That was tasty, but super dense. The next loaf we tried to more closely follow the rising instructions, but put it in the unheated oven with the light on to more closely approximate the recommended rising temperature. We got slightly more rising, but it was still too flat. The last time we tried, it was on a sunny day & kitchen temps got up to 75 F or warmer. I expected a sandwich-style loaf, but none of our multigrain loves haven't gotten over 2 inches tall. We're very intrigued by the Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day method.

Theresa said...

Haven't read all the comments so my apologies if this is a duplicate. I make the no knead bread as posted in the Mother Earth News, and it is fantastic. Turns out every single time and is absolutely delicious! If you search on their website you can easily find the recipe. The hardest part for me is remembering to mix the ingredients the night before so they can rise for long enough. I'm glad it's getting cold out again so I can turn on the oven and make this bread!

Mariella said...

I've heard of a thing called Beer Bread that doesn't need kneading either. NZ comedian Te Radar made it on is Off The Radar self-sufficency show a couple of weeks ago. It looks sort of like a scone bread texture. I was wondering if you had a recipe for that and if you could post it on here.

Madz in NZ

Missy said...

I made my first 2 loafs of bread last weekend and they came out pretty good. The crust was really hard so I read that if you add a bowl of water in the oven it will help steam the bread as it cooks. Then also add some milk (or soy) to the recipe to soften the bread. Then to put some butter on the top right when it comes out of the oven. I will try all those combined next time I bake. But overall the bread is so easy.

I found a few recipes on this website that I have to share:
http://www.tastespotting.com/

Carrie and Justin said...

Here is my beer bread recipe:

1 beer (standard size bottle/can)
3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
-Mix ingredients together well, pour into loaf pan & bake at 325 or 350 till done (about 30 mins, just check till toothpick comes out clean!)

I've used this recipe to make loaves of bread as well as muffins. A good cheap beer makes perfect muffins for buttering up with herbs, cheese, and spices.
I like using specialty stouts and porters along with some chocolate for more desert style bread.
Combinations are endless here since there are SO many types of beer out there!

equa yona(Big Bear) said...

I baked whole wheat no knead bread every week for about a year from a recipe I found in Prevention. It was about the only thing I ever baked and it always came out well. I lost my recipe in a move and haven't tried it in decades but this has inspired me to try.

Billie said...

I use a bread maker. I have tried to make bread the old-fashioned way and could never make it rise enough. Also... I definitely don't have time to babysit multiple risings.

We no longer buy bread (except hamburger buns or rolls to make melted cheese sandwiches) because almost all of the bread has HFCS unless you buy expensive bread. And this way... I know exactly what goes into a loaf of bread. The other bonus is that my honey wouldn't eat anything but white bread if it came from a store. Now I only make half whole wheat/white flour and everybody eats it... kids and honey included.

I don't know if I would try a no-knead recipe or not. It would mean making it Saturday night for cooking on Sunday and I just don't see that happening based on my work schedule.

Denise said...

There is a great book on no-knead bread by Zoe Francois (www.zoebakes.com) called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Not only do Zoe's recipes not require kneading, but the dough can also be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks... just grab a hunk of dough whenever you want a loaf, let it come to room temp and bake away. The "peasant loaf" incorporates whole wheat with rye and absolutely fabulous. The bread bakes up with a crispy crust and chewy interior every time and the preparation is MUCH easier than the NYT recipes. You must try it!

Sweetpeas said...

I made a no knead spelt bread awhile back that was good, it didn't have a rise time either, but baked for like an hour. It was more of a cornbread consistency, but the flavor was good. No idea where I found the recipe though LOL.

gpc said...

I tried it once when I saw it in the recent column. Bread was very dense, pretty flat, but tasty. I am going to keep experimenting until I get it right. Maybe.

Sharon Handy said...

I use the simple no-knead loaf recipe from "Artisan Bread," too. It was also featured in the New York Times not long after the other recipe came out. I use a half-and-half mixture of whole wheat and white flour and get great results, although like many whole wheat breads, the loaves are flatter than an all-white version. It's dead simple, though, and doesn't require a Dutch oven, which I don't have.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/21/dining/211brex.html?sq=simple%20artisan%20bread&st=cse&scp=1&pagewanted=print

I will say, however, that I haven't had great luck keeping the dough in the fridge, because it crusts over in an unpleasant way. I usually just bake all the loaves one after the other and freeze them.

lace said...

I've only made bread a few times in my life but I love eating homemade bread and the no knead breads have made it so that I'm making bread now in. It's very easy.

I've had good luck with the recipes from 'Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day' as well. If you are getting the recipes from the book, there are some errors in it. Here is a link to an error correction page

The enriched bread recipe made a wonderful Challah.

CK said...

I've tried the no-knead method and it works fine. It makes a lover-ly tasting bread and I love the ease of it. Still, I've got to agree with another poster, some of the thrill of bread making is in the kneading. That's the sensual, I'm involved in this, zen aspect of bread-making. No knead is good to have in the repertoire but the hands-on version still reigns supreme.

arif said...

Rosa - I didn't see your comment re: getting some starter, if you read this, send an email to sourdougstarter@mintemail.com and we can connect.

Rebekka said...

I've used the NY times recipe and it works - the problem you're probably having is that the rising times are for overly-heated houses. In my cold house, I leave the first rise for up to 24 hours and the second up to 12 (or 24 in the fridge, depending on the timing).

Rachel said "Plus, four hours is hard, if they could come up with something that takes about 8 hours, so you could let it rise overnight or while at work. "

You can do 8 hours in the fridge instead of 4 hours out.

I've also modified it to use 1/4 cup sourdough starter instead of 1/4 tsp yeast - I used the sourdough starter instructions here, they work like a charm. You need to reduce the water slightly because the sourdough is liquidish, and I also find you can substitute up to one cup of white flour with wholemeal or rye without affecting the texture.

Give it another go, extending the rising times, it really is a great recipe!

Wendy said...

The book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day produced some great results for us. You make up the dough and it lives in your fridge for a week or so. You just pull off what you need and it can even be used to make pitas and naan bread.

http://wisdomofthemoon.blogspot.com/2008/11/cooking-resources-cookbooks.html

psuklinkie said...

How about the perfect loaf? I found it over at Zesty Cook.It makes a soft, fluffy whole wheat loaf without kneading or even much time for rising. Here's a link: http://zestycook.com/quick-and-easy-whole-wheat-bread/

LinkWithin