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Thursday, February 16, 2012

No Need to Knead This Delicious, Easy Bread

Mark Bittman's recipe for No-Knead Bread may end up being his greatest legacy to cooking. Removing the tedious chore of kneading from breadmaking, the recipe is justifiably famous and has spawned scores, if not hundreds, of imitations.

We tried it ourselves not long ago, and although we were pleased with the bread we made, our friends Chuck Miller and Phil Van Kirk tweaked Bittman's recipe and came up with a version we like even better. Incorporating wheat germ, this bread is a bit denser than Bittman's, and it's tastier when it cools. Like Bittman's bread, it features a crackling, crunchy, irresistible brown crust. And it's jaw-droppingly easy. All you need are a few hours to let the dough rise.

Because the recipe requires us to run the oven at 450 degrees for almost an hour, we like to save energy by making two loaves at a time and freezing one until we need it.

No-Knead Bread

1/2 t. yeast
1/2 t. sugar
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups warm water

4 cups unbleached flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 t. salt

1. Mix yeast and sugar in 1/4 cup warm water, and stir to break up any yeast lumps.

2. Put two cups of warm water in a large bowl, and add the yeast/sugar mix. Stir a little to distribute the yeast.

3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, wheat germ, and salt.

4. Slowly pour the flour mixture into the yeasty water, mixing with either a wooden spoon or your hands.

5. Cover the mixed dough with plastic wrap and set in a warmish place. (We've found that if we put it in the oven with the light on, that works great.)

6. After five hours or so, the dough will have risen considerably. Turn it out on a floured work surface, dust it with flour, and fold it over itself a few times. (The dough will be extremely sticky.) Put it back in the bowl, and return it to its warm spot.

7. After two more hours, the dough will have risen again. Remove it from the oven. Turn the oven on to 450 degrees, and put a Dutch oven or another covered dish into the oven to heat up. Make sure that the pot you use can withstand the high temperatures; plastic handles will melt. We use a Calphalon Dutch oven, but Le Creuset would also work well.

8. When the oven (and pot) are hot, carefully remove the pot from the oven and, using a spatula, scrape the dough into the pot. Let it bake with the cover on for 35 minutes.

9. After 35 minutes, remove the cover and let the bread bake for an additional 15 minutes.

10. When the bread is done, let it cool on a rack as long as you can stand it before tearing off a piece for yourself. Butter and honey make particularly fine accompaniments.

Makes one good-size loaf.


  1. Can you use bread machine yeast?

  2. Wish we knew the answer to that, Amy. Not sure. But this recipe uses a loooong rising time to get around the kneading issue, so we bet that it's also forgiving on what kind of yeast you use. Keep us posted!