How to Make No-Knead Bread

How to Make No-Knead Bread

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No-knead bread recipes are an easy solution for at-home bread-making. They require very little “hands-on” time and almost always produce a great loaf. Using simple ingredients and just a few tools, you too can become a bread-maker.

Making your own bread is a great step toward further self-reliance. You’ll save money in the process, too, as making your own bread is much less expensive than buying it at the store.

There are many recipes out there for no-knead bread, including some of our favorites from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and King Arthur Flour.

This article is all about the process – the basic steps to making no-knead bread that can be applied to almost any recipe. It includes tips and tricks of the trade that have helped us to be more successful over the years, as well as links to some of our favorite recipes.

Supplies for No-Knead Bread Making

Before you get started with no-knead bread-making, consider checking your kitchen to make sure you have a few helpful supplies. While not all of these supplies are absolutely necessary (suitable substitutions are noted), they are helpful. They are also a good investment if you decide to make break on a weekly basis.

  • A Stand Mixer (like a Kitchen Aid Mixer or similar) is the easiest way to bring the dough together. It can be done by hand but will take a bit longer and a bit more “elbow grease.”
  • A Banneton Proofing Basket is great if you want to do free-form loaves but you need a vessel in which they can rise. A banneton produces the cool floured ridges you see on artisan loaves.
  • A Cast Iron Dutch Oven (like these ones by Lodge or Le Creuset) are great vessels for both proofing and cooking round artisan loaves bread. I love how they hold the bread in a great shape and, when covered, retain moisture that helps create wonderful bread.
  • Basic Loaf Pans are perfect for making sandwich bread and are a cheap alternative to fancier options.
  • A Plastic Food Storage Container with Lid is great for the first rise of your bread dough and for storing it in the fridge. We have these in two sizes and use them for both bread dough and pizza dough on a regular basis. The loose cover allows a bit of air to escape as the dough rises and keeps the dough fresh over time. You can also use a mixing bowl with food wrap, but we found that this put our mixing bowl out of commission when we needed it!
  • A meat thermometer allows you to get a quick temperature on your bread, especially as you are learning and aren’t always sure when it might be done!
  • A bread lame is a fancy tool for making cuts in your bread before it goes in the oven. A sharp knife will also do the trick, but this tool can be more precise. It makes for a great gift if someone asks you want you want for your next birthday!

How to Make No-Knead Bread: 5 Simple Steps

Step 1: Mix your Ingredients

No-Knead bread starts with flour, salt, and yeast – from there, recipes might add things: like maple syrup and honey for a little sweetness; butter or oil to add softness and flavor; or seeds for unique tastes and textures.

Most recipes start with lukewarm water in your mixing bowl, then have you add the yeast and the rest of the ingredients (except for seeds). You simply turn the mixer on and mix for one minute, adding any seeds or grains half-way through.

And that’s it! Your dough is made.

Step 2: Let it Rise

After mixing your dough, you can either leave it in the bowl you mixed in or transfer to a plastic food storage container. You’ll then place it in a warmish place (we use the top of our furnace or a spot near the fire place) for about 2 hours to rise. You want it to double in size during this first rise.

Step 3: Cool it Down (optional but recommended)

Though you can go ahead and prepare your dough for baking after the first rise, no-knead bread dough can be rather wet and loose at this point. It is much easier to work with if you transfer the container of dough to the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

And here’s the fun part – you can store dough in the fridge for up to 2 weeks while you wait to actually bake! This means you can double the recipe and then make one loaf at a time, or you can make the dough one day and cook it another.

Step 4: Let it Rise (again)

When you are ready to bake your bread, preheat your oven according to the directions in your recipe, then prepare your baking vessel (if you’re using one) or put a stone into the oven if your bread is going to be free form.

It’s time to get your dough ready for the second rise!

Take your dough out of the fridge and sprinkle the top with flour. Sprinkle a working surface as well. Turn the dough out onto the counter (if you are using all of it) or scoop out half of it if you doubled your recipe.

Using just a few folds and turns, gently shape your loaf into the shape you desire. A circle for a boule, a log for a loaf. Then pop it into your baking vessel or into a banneton. Cover with a loose, clean towel.

Place your dough in a warm place to rise for about 90 minutes (less if you are making a smaller loaf or if you are using the oven proofing setting). You want your dough to double in size again, but not get so high that it will collapse during baking.

Start the next step about 10 minutes before your bread is fully risen so your oven can pre-heat.

Step 5: Bake your Bread!!!

Preheat your oven to temperature recommended by your recipe and place a roasting pan on the bottom shelf of your oven to get hot while you prep your dough to go in.

If your dough is in a banneton, you’ll flip it right onto the stone that has been preheating in the oven. If its in a vessel, go ahead and take the towel off the top and sprinkle a little flour on the top of the risen bread.

Before you close the oven door (if using the stone) or before you place your vessel in the oven, use a sharp knife or a lame to make a few slices in the top of the dough. This allows moisture to release as it bakes (without these the bread will do it on its own and basically “burst” in a few places). You can just do one slice down the middle sandwich bread style or you can get fancy with a few slashes here and there. They don’t need to be too deep – about 1/4 inch.

When you place the bread in the oven, you’ll also pour about a cup of water into the roasting pan on the bottom shelf, then quickly close the door. This provides a nice moist environment for the bread.

Set a timer according to your recipe. If you are using a pan with a cover, set a timer for about half the bake time and remove the cover half-way through (this allows for a nice browning of the crust) then finish the bake.

Check your bread at the appropriate baking time (it should reach approximately 200 degrees) then remove from the oven, cool for about 10 minutes, and remove from the baking vessel. For best results, bread should cool for at least an hour before you cut into it.

That’s it – you’ve made bread!

Recommended Recipes

Now that you’ve learned about the process for making no-knead bread, you can explore a variety of recipes that mix types of flour, seed additions, sweeteners, etc.

One of the most valuable resources we own, by far, is the cook book “The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” by Jeff Hertzberg & Zoe Francois. Packed with a number of dough variations and many recipes you can make with each dough, this book is a valuable resource for your library. They also host a website (Artisan Bread in 5) where they update recipes and post tips and tricks that will help you advance your practice.

The following online No-Knead Bread recipes are are some of our favorites:

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Carrie Williams Howe
Blogger & Homesteader at The Happy Hive
Carrie Williams Howe is an educational leader by day and an aspiring homesteader by night and weekend. She lives on a small homestead in Vermont with her husband, two children, and a rambunctious border collie. She is a Founder and Editor of Homestead How-To and also blogs about her family's homestead life at The Happy Hive.

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