Classic No Knead Bread | Dr Doughlittle

Crispy crust with chewy crumb and delicious aroma.

The no-knead bread was thought to have been first described in the 1999 cookbook ‘No Need to Knead’, written by California baker Suzanne Dunaway, and author Jeff Hertzberg notes such a method before the late 1990s in Italy. In addition, famed gospel composer and song collector Albert E. Brumley published a recipe for “No-Knead Bread” in his 1972 song collection and cookbook, All-Day Singin’ and Dinner on the Ground, with a similar baking and rising process.

In 2007, Hertzberg and fellow author Zoe François published Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which uses a no-knead method of stored and refrigerated dough that is ready for use at any time during a 5- to 14-day period.

New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman described Lahey’s method in his November 8, 2006 column The Minimalist. Bittman praised the bread for its “great crumb, lightness, incredible flavor [and] enviable, crackling crust.” Two years later, he noted the recipe’s “immediate and wild popularity,” and a 2009 cookbook described Bittman’s column as “one of those recipes that literally change the culinary scene with discussions on hundreds of blogs in dozens of languages around the world. -Wikipedia.

The recipe given below has been adapted from Jim Lahley’s original, to suite my need for a slightly smaller loaf. My hydration is 70% as compared with 75%. For me, it makes the wet dough more manageable.

The method uses a long rise instead of kneading to align the dough’s gluten molecules with each other so as to produce a strong, elastic network, resulting in long, sticky strands. The automatic alignment is possible because of the wetness of the dough, which makes the molecules more mobile. Wet doughs, which use a water weight of about 75% that of the flour (hydration), require more salt than conventional doughs, about 2% of the flour weight.

Ingredients: 
300g unbleached organic flour
1/2 tsp yeast
1/4 tsp sea salt
210g filtered water.

The mixed dough | Dr Doughlittle

The mixed dough.

Method:
The night before you bake, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, and then cover the sticky dough, leaving this at room temperature overnight.

Risen dough | Dr Doughlittle

The risen dough next day.

Next day, gently transfer the risen dough on to a very well floured surface and fold the edges of the dough inwards towards the centre, going around the the entire edge of the dough. Repeat this for 1-2 times more to form a ball, and place this ball of dough on a well floured towel the uneven side down.

Flour the surface | Dr Doughlittle

Well floured surface.

Proof dough in towel | Dr Doughlittle

Use a well-floured towel to proof dough.

Form dough into a ball | Dr Doughlittle

Formed into a ball.

Cover the dough | Dr Doughlittle

Covering the dough with the same towel.

Sprinkle more flour on the smooth rounded surface of the dough which is now on top, and cover this with the towel.

Sprinkle polenta | Dr Doughlittle

Sprinkle some polenta or cornmeal.

Dough in Dutch Oven | Dr Doughlittle

Flip the dough into the pot, rough side now up.

After proofing an hour and having fired up the oven containing the Dutch oven inside to 240˚C. When the Dutch oven is hot, take it out, and remove the hot cover. Sprinkle some polenta or corn meal on the bottom of the Dutch oven so that the dough will not stick to the base. Then tip the the ball of dough into the Dutch oven, which now has the rough side up, the smooth side down. Cover with the lid and replace into the oven for 30 minutes. After this time, remove the lid, and continue baking the loaf inside the Dutch oven to brown it. This may take another 15 to 20 minutes.

In the Dutch Oven | Dr Doughlittle

The finished product still in the hot Dutch Oven.

Cool loaf on rack | Dr Doughlittle

Remove the loaf and cool this on a metal rack before cutting.

No Knead Bread | Dr Doughlittle

A second loaf made the next day using the same method to show consistency. This loaf was baked at 250˚C.

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.
The most certain way to succeed
is always to try just one more time.”
― Thomas A. Edison

7 Comments
  1. Avatar

    Hello. I am new to bread baking. Need some help. Can I substitute with All Purposr flour? And can I use instant yeast or active dry yeast?

    Reply
    • John Lim

      Hi Angie, you wish to substitute All Purpose Flour with which other flour? Bread flour? Some experiments show little difference in bread baking between the two. Because I want a stronger support of gluten strands, I prefer to use Bread flour. Instant yeast is another type of dry yeast that was introduced after active dry yeast in the 1970s. It is made using a similar process as active dry yeast, although it is dried more quickly and milled into finer particles. Because of this, it dissolves and activates faster. Unlike active dry yeast, instant yeast doesn’t have to be proofed first; it can be mixed straight into the dry ingredients with the same result. This yeast also gives you two separate rises.

      Reply
      • Avatar

        Hi John
        Your recipe call for unbleached organic flour. I don’t know what this flour is. Ok I will use bread flour. Just curious, will there be any taste difference if I use T65 French flour? If not, do you have any recipe for this type of flour as I just bought them.
        Noted I can use instant yeast. The reason I ask is some website say to reduce 20% if using instant yeast (recipe is for no knead quick rise with 83% hydration). They also explain for long hours fermentation (18 hours and above) best to use active dry yeast, not instant yeast.
        Regarding water, if I don’t have flitered water at home do I need to buy bottled filtered water?
        Finally, if I add mixed dried fruit and nuts, do I need to adjust recipe?
        (Sorry for the many questions 😬)

        Reply
        • John Lim

          Dear Angie, I try to use organic unbleached flour as it’s more healthy! T65 French flour is a strong flour with high fermentation tolerance. Good if you can get hold of this.I found using this flour, the water content needs to be adjusted a little. Speaking of water, tap water has chlorine, so I use filtered water. Bottled water is OK, except check the pH. Yeast does better in acidic water. Some bottled water have high pH, and therefore too alkaline. It’s marvellous you can handle 83% hydration. Takes practice and good techniques!! For dried fruits I like to soak in water to hydrate then so they get ‘juicy’. Nuts and seeds not a problem.Only make sure you have a good balance. Not too much otherwise the oven rise is affected. I don’t adjust the recipe. With yeast, I treat instant yeast and dried yeast the same.

          Reply
          • Avatar

            thank you so much, John!
            How much sugar should I add to the mixed fruit dough? And can I roll them into round shape and still bake in Dutch oven?

          • John Lim

            Dear Angie, the amount of sugar is up to you. For 400g dough I’d say 1 Tbs, 600g 1-2Tbs. Depends how sweet you want it to be. But I avoid sugar. Yes, you can shape it into a boule and bake in the DO. Sugar affects the colour of your crust, making it darker.

  2. Avatar

    Hi John
    Ok. Noted your comments. Thank y9u once again.

    Reply

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