No-knead bread: the beat goes on...

November 8, 2006 is a day that will live in culinary history. It’s the day The New York Times introduced millions of readers to no-knead bread.

No-knead breads (a.k.a. casserole breads) have actually been around for decades, since long before the Times’ Mark Bittman came out with his version (based on one from Sullivan Street Bakery’s Jim Lahey).

Remember cottage cheese dill bread, that ’60s standby? No-knead bread. English Muffin Toasting Bread, from the ’70s? No-knead. Sometimes it really is all in a name.

But the Times, with their vast reach—plus a recipe that produces chewy, artisan-style bread—re-popularized this yeast bread methodology. And since then, the no-knead craze has done nothing but gain steam (pun intended).

Prompted by the Times, we started fooling around with no-knead breads in the King Arthur test kitchen. And we’ve come up with a comprehensive array of recipes.

But there’s always room for more; we’ll be examining yet another no-knead method here in early June, and this one goes beyond crusty loaves to sticky buns and challah. So stay tuned; no-knead is still hot as a 450°F oven.

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In the meantime, enjoy our No-Knead Harvest Bread. It’s packed with fruit and nuts, and especially dense and chewy—perfect for a schmear of cream cheese or (my favorite) softened Brie.

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Quick, everybody, into the bowl! Lancelot (high-gluten) flour, white whole wheat flour, salt, instant yeast, and cool water. Can you use King Arthur all-purpose or bread flour here? Absolutely. Will your bread rise as high? Not quite… for the highest rise, try Lancelot. But don’t let its absence in your cupboard prevent you from baking this tasty bread.

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Mix it all up. Our dough whisk is the perfect tool for this wet, no-knead dough.

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See the big loops? The dough doesn’t get caught on the whisk, yet it mixes beautifully.

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Once the flour and liquid are combined, mix in the fruit and nuts. I’m using golden raisins, cranberries, and pecans here.

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Again, the dough whisk does a super job. As would your hands… just wet them thoroughly to prevent too much stickiness.

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Scrape the dough into the center of the bowl, cover  it, and let it rise for at least 8 hours, or overnight. This dough started its rise at 2:45 p.m. on a Thursday…

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…and here it is at 7 a.m. Friday morning. Puffy, spongy, risen.

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Next, select your pan. It needs to be something with a cover, like a Dutch oven or this German clay baker. You can see the cover looks wet; I’d soaked it, as that’s what the manufacturer’s directions call for. I made several subsequent loaves without soaking, and soaking does seem to add a bit of sheen to the crust, which makes sense: sheen comes from steam, steam comes from water, and there you have it—Bob’s your uncle. A soaked lid adds a satiny crust.

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Or try a Dutch-oven shaped stoneware crock.

You can also fashion a cover out of foil for your favorite deep casserole dish.

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Gently stir down the dough…

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…and spoon it into the vessel of your choice.

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Wet your fingers, and gently press it to cover the bottom of the crock.

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Take the time to poke any fruit down into the dough.

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Any fruit sticking out on top will burn, so try to cover it all up, one way or another. Here I’m pinching dough over the top of a recalcitrant raisin.

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Don’t go crazy; just do the best you can.

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Ready to rise. Put the cover on the pan, and let the bread rest for 2 hours at room temperature. It’ll expand, but don’t expect a grand rise here. As I noted earlier, using high-gluten flour will produce the most robust rise; all-purpose flour, the smallest rise. All are fine; the AP flour loaf will simply be heavier/denser than the bread flour loaf, which will be heavier/denser than the high-gluten loaf.

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Cover the pan, and put the bread in a cold oven. Turn on the oven, with the temperature set to 450°F.

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Here’s the dough, made with all-purpose flour, before it’s “risen.”

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And here it is after 2 hours. Not a huge difference; more a matter of increased puffiness.

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Into the cold over it goes.

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Forty-five minutes later, take the bread out, and remove the cover. take its interior temperature with an instant-read thermometer. A finished loaf will register 205°F at its center. As you can see, this one has a few degrees to go.

You might remember reading that a perfectly baked loaf of bread should be 190°F at the center. So what’s up with this 205°F? Dense breads—this bread, a heavy rye, a 100% whole wheat country loaf—need to be baked to a higher temperature at the center, to avoid any gumminess.

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Back into the oven it goes—without its cover. If it could use some browning, leave it uncovered. If it’s brown enough, tent the pan with a sheet of foil. Why not simply replace the cover? Because you no longer want to trap any steam; at this point, it’s better for the bread to dry out a bit.

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There we are: 205°F.

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Here’s another version. After 45 minutes in the oven, I liked how brown it was, and didn’t really want it to brown further. So I tented this one with foil before baking for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, till its internal temperature was 205°F. It baked through without over-browning.

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Take the bread out of the pan, and place it on a rack to cool.

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Slice when completely cool, and enjoy…

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Just like Deb!

Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for No-Knead Harvest Bread.

Buy vs. Bake

Buy: When Pigs Fly Bread Co., York, Maine: Harvest Bread with apples, raisins, and walnuts,  $3.67/lb.

Bake at home: No-Knead Harvest Bread with cranberries, golden raisins, and walnuts $1.60/lb.

 

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. NABILA

    Do you oil or grease the clay pot before you put the dough…or just place a parchment inside the clay pot before you put the dough…Thanks?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi there, Nabila! If you use a piece of parchment paper under the dough, you won’t need to oil the pot before baking. You can sprinkle the parchment with some cornmeal or semolina flour if you’d like but it isn’t a necessary step. Happy baking! Morgan@KAF

  2. Constanze

    Can this yummy bread be baked in the Baking Bowl (KAF product)? I would love to try it. Also, is there a Whole Grain version which would have more body, more flavor and have a more nutritional value? Thanks!
    Cheers!
    Constanze

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The answer is yes to both of your questions, Constanze! You can bake a portion of this dough (about half, or up to #2) in the Bread Baking Bowl. Follow the same baking temperatures and times outlined in the recipe. If you’d like to experiment with making the whole grain version, use this recipe for No-Knead Crusty Whole Wheat Bread. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  3. Susan Taccini

    What are the sizes of the dishes you are using? I’m currently trying to decide between a 3qt square glass casserole ( 8x8x4 excl. Glass lid), a 4 qt casserole (10x10x4 excl lid) or 11×8.5 oval (2.8 liter). they are all the old fashioned Corning Ware style with the clear glass rounded lids. Or my 5qt non_stick Dutch oven. Thanks! Hoping to pop it in the oven 1st thing tomorrow!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Susan, these loaves weren’t baked in any dishes. Instead, they were baked directly on a preheated baking stone, which transfers heat directly fto the dough and helps it rise upwards and have a nice height. You’re welcome to try this approach, baking free-form loaves on a stone or a baking sheet to see how you like the results. However, if you want to ensure your loaf rises high, consider using your Dutch oven. We typically recommend using a smaller size than a 5 quart-Dutch oven for a standard-sized loaf (a 4.2 quart Dutch oven is a good option), but you can try making a large loaf in your big pot. (Use about 2 pounds of dough.) Experiment with different baking methods until you find the approach that works best for you. Good luck and happy baking! Kye@KAF

  4. Joy

    Just received one of your stoneware clay baking bowls. Trying to find directions for using it to bake some round bread. No lid. The card with it says to look on your site for recipes. Haven’t found any. Help! Want to bake an olive loaf and don’t know temp or length of baking. Joy

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Joy! This recipe shares the technique of using the bowl to bake your bread, and you can use pretty much any bread recipe calling for between 3 and 4 cups of flour. So you have quite a bit of freedom! Annabelle@KAF

  5. Alice

    My clay baking dish is by pampered chef. Would I soak the top and grease the bottom? This bread sounds delicious.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Alice, we’d suggest checking the manufacturer’s directions. Some pans benefit from a soak, some don’t, so not being familiar with your specific pan, we can’t really say whether or not it should be soaked. However you end up making this loaf, we hope you’ll enjoy it! Mollie@KAF

  6. Mr. Steve

    Well, this looks like a great bread, so I’ve ordered some of the ingredients. I’m just getting back to cooking/baking after quite a few years (retired now!) This even got me to order a Romertopf Baking Dish. I will be using a convection/radiant heat oven to bake this, should that be okay? I hope this turns out okay. 🙂 Thank you for the recipe and blog…great website…even tho it lost all my old orders when you upgraded in July 🙁

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Welcome back to baking, Mr. Steve! You should be able to bake a beautiful artisan style loaf like this in a convection oven. Generally speaking, you’ll want to set your oven 25° lower when baking in one, though some newer models automatically adjust for you when you choose a convection setting. For a more detailed look into the question of whether or not to bake on a convection setting, take a read through our related blog article: http://bit.ly/2dEcxHp Happy baking! Mollie@KAF

  7. Brenda

    Love this bread. Worked like a charm on the first try. I didn’t have any golden raisins in the house so I made it with all cranberries and lightly toasted walnuts. This bread makes excellent toast and I have also used it for a smoked turkey panini (smoked turkey, thinly sliced Granny Smith apples, your favorite cranberry sauce and gorgonzola cheese). This is a definite keeper. Thanks so much for a great recipe and thanks to PJ for her wonderful step by step instructions!!!

    Reply
  8. Aly

    I bought a flat lidded cast iron dutch oven (Lodge brand) just to bake bread in. I heat the pot in the oven upside down. I let my round loaf rise on a piece of parchement/foiled paper (Reynolds makes it and it is stronger than parchement which gets very brittle after baking) When the bread is ready to bake I place the paper and bread in the lid of the cast iron and cover with the hot bottom. Bake for about 15-20 min. so steam forms then uncover so the bread nicely browns. The bread is easier to lift out of the lid without burning yourself. The hot pot gives a great spring to the loaf. Looks amazing!

    Reply

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