Comments keep rolling in each week for our Jim Lahey’s Basic No-Knead Bread post. Some of you are baking pros and others have never baked a loaf of bread in your life. Hundreds of you have tried this recipe and have come to the same conclusion: this is some seriously delicious bread.
I would have to agree. I have baked dozens of these beautiful loaves since I first tried the recipe over a year ago. My Dutch ovens don’t have a chance to gather dust (find affordable dutch ovens on Amazon here), the shelves of my linen closet are sagging with five-pound bags of flour, and my husband is one happy camper. All signs point to success.
I love reading your comments and hearing about your bread-baking success in the kitchen. Here are a few examples:
I did it! It’s sitting on my counter crackling right now. It’s beautiful! Besides my kids, it’s the prettiest thing I’ve ever made! – Kristen C.
I just adore this recipe and how versatile it is! We had guests for dinner and they ate it all!! – Stephanie
Thanks for making a baking idiot look like a master. – Tim
We managed to let it cool before slicing. It is absolutely delicious – we love the chewy texture, and the crust is wonderfully crunchy. It’s now wrapped in a towel on the counter, and it’s about all I can do to stay out of the kitchen! – Mary C.
I entered a loaf of this bread in our local county fair (along with sheep) and WON!! Not only did I win, but a gentleman (also entering his sheep) won the same award for the exact same bread!!! – Adrienne
Ok, so… yeast scares me, never made bread but thought I’d give this a go. Forgot to mix dry ingredients before adding water. Due to family tragedy, dough sat out for 24 hours. By the time I got around to baking it I was so tired that I only let it rest for 11/4 hours. Only had Pyrex to bake it in… All that and it still came out great. Cooling on rack now. 1 plain, 1 cinnamon raisin. Smells great, can’t wait to try. Apparently, you can not kill this bread! – Debbie
I just made this… it is AWESOME! So very easy.. the hardest part was waiting for it to cool enough to cut! We are big bread people & very picky.. this tops the list! – Valerie
Let me just preface this comment with my bread-baking skills: They’re nonexistent. I’ve ruined everything from breadsticks to cinnamon rolls before… no matter how easy they seemed. This is the FIRST bread recipe I’ve ever tried that’s ever actually baked looking anywhere near the recipe. It turned out beautifully. – Robyn
I just made this tonight and I have to say…..I CAN’T BELIEVE IT IS HOMEMADE…..It is the best bread I have ever made. – Sarah
No-knead bread plays well with amateur bakers so do not be intimidated by the steps. This recipe is really forgiving (a.k.a. hard to mess up). Even if you let it rise too long or add too much water, odds are, you are still going to end up with a good loaf of bread.
I would recommend following the directions closely the first time you try this. With practice, you will start to develop a feel for how it should look, smell, and taste. Variations of ingredients, temperature, and technique could all affect your dough. It is much better to go by smell and sight than get stuck on exact times. Adjust moisture levels, rise times, and bake times if needed.
Leave a comment if you have a question, and I (or one of our readers) will try to answer it. Below, you will find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions out of the 400+ comments we have received so far.
Basic No-Knead Bread FAQ’s:
Q: Help! My dough is too wet. What do I do?
A: This recipe will make a wet dough. You can add flour, a tablespoon at a time, until it reaches the correct moisture level. My best advice, though, is just to use well-floured hands and towels and work quickly with the wet dough. You don’t want it to be a shapeless blob, but it should be somewhat wet and sticky. The moisture is what creates the steam which is what creates that trademark crust and crumb.
Q: Help! My dough is too dry. What do I do?
A: Add water, a tablespoon at a time. Also keep in mind that the dough does hydrate as it rises.
Q: Do I need to oil my Dutch oven?
A: No, you don’t. The high heat will create a crisp crust around the bread, similar to searing a steak. I have had three loaves stick; I believe it was from not pre-heating the pot for the full 30 minutes. If a loaf sticks, it is frustrating. Just run a plastic knife around the outside of the bread, working it in at an angle to release the loaf from the pot. Then turn it upside down and shake vigorously until the loaf pops out. It always does, though you may break a sweat in the process.
If you consistently have issues with the bread sticking in the pan, pour 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil into the pre-heated Dutch oven and spread it around quickly with a paper towel before dumping the dough into the pot.
Q: Is there any way to cut the salt without risking the integrity of the bread?
A: From FLNW readers: “I use either salt substitute – potassium chloride (KCl) or the Lite Salt which is half sodium chloride and half potassium chloride. Both work equally well.” and “I don’t use salt, and it is awesome! Use herbs — rosemary, basil, whatever, they all come out good!”
Q: I don’t own a Dutch oven. Can I use a different pot?
A: Any heavy, ovenproof lidded pot rated for high heat will work. Readers have reported success with glass and clay pots. Some creative readers have even used a cookie sheet over a pot as a lid!
Q: Can I add in any additional ingredients?
A: Go for it! Add additional ingredients to the dry flour mixture before adding the water. This ensures that they incorporate evenly. Here are a few variations either FLNW readers or I have tried (you can find more no-knead bread variations here):
- 2 T. tomato paste, 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, 1/4-1/3 c. basil
- 1-3 T. brown sugar, sugar, or molasses
- cinnamon & raisins
- grated cheese
- 1/3 c. honey, 3/4 c. chopped walnuts, 3/4 c. Craisins, orange zest
- 100% whole wheat, while exchanging 1/4 c. of flour with 1/4 c. vital wheat gluten
- for rye bread: use a 1:2 ratio. (1 c. of rye for every 2 c. of regular flour). Optional: add 1 T. caraway seeds
- for richer bread: 6 T. buttermilk powder
Q: I live at a high altitude? Do I need to make any adjustments?
A: Nope! Your dough will probably rise faster, but other than that proceed as written.
Q: The exterior of my bread turned out crispy and the interior turned out chewy. There are lots of big holes. Did I do something wrong?
A: Sounds like you did everything right! This type of artisan bread will have holes in the interior and a thicker, chewier crust. (In Lahey’s book, his crusts are dark and almost charred looking.) To “fix” this problem would take away what makes this bread unique.
That being said, as long as the interior temp is at 200 degrees and the crust is a nice golden brown, pull it out of the oven. Try decreasing your baking time a bit. I also wonder if a sheet of foil under the pot would give you a lighter bottom crust? I’ll try that with my next loaf and let you know.
If that still doesn’t meet your expectations, try a different recipe, like this one for hamburger buns (make in any shape you want) that will give you a thin crust and soft, light interior.
Q: Can I use a smaller (3-5 quart) Dutch oven or ovenproof pot?
A: If you are working with smaller pots or appetites, just cut the ingredients in half. Follow the mixing and rising steps as written. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes, remove lid and bake for another 15-30 minutes (until internal temp is 200 and it’s golden brown).
Q: Can this bread be frozen?
A: Yes! Bake the bread as directed, cool it, wrap it in foil, then slide it into a reusable plastic bag. The trick would be finding a big enough bag… Maybe cut the recipe in half if you want to freeze it? Then just slide the foil-wrapped loaf into a hot 350-degree oven until it is heated through.
If you have mastered this basic bread, you need to check out the other recipes in My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method by Jim Lahey.
Lahey has also come out with a book on pizza! Be still, my carbo-loving heart. My Pizza: The Easy No-Knead Way to Make Spectacular Pizza at Home is on my Amazon wishlist as we speak. Amazon has both books in stock and ready to ship.
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