The Famous No Knead Bread

no knead bread 1

I've mentioned my readers umpteen numbers of times. I love how you send me fantastic recipe suggestions and places to eat. One reader Stefania emailed me recently with a recipe suggestion for a No Knead bread. The recipe is by Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery and Co Pizzeria and addresses one of my biggest problems pre Kitchenaid - the inability to knead dough. I've never been able to knead dough properly-my arms just aren't built for it although they are very good at carrying bags of shopping and dropping things and taking doors off hinges (accidentally of course, I can be freakily strong at the most inappropriate times).

no knead bread 3

I had tried no knead breads and this was purely out of laziness. No knead as in I gave up really quickly and couldn't be bothered kneading it anymore. They always turned out cakey and not bread like at all but I was willing to be a believer. Even when the dough seemed impossibly wet. Even when I waited 12 hours while it proved overnight. Even when the dough stuck to the teatowel. Even when I changed the amount of yeast from 1/4 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon. You might say I was cautiously optimistic until the very end when I opened the oven door and saw a wonderful (albeit small as the dough had stuck to the teatowel :P ) round loaf.

Fresh out of the oven I cut the crusty exterior. "Hmmm very sourdoughy" I said to myself (and you know I do talk to myself all the time although not quite full conversations...yet!).  I peered inside and it was holey just like a sourdough. I buttered it and tasted it and it had a lovely crunch on the outside and a soft, spongy, moreish interior like a fresh sourdough. I thought I was seeing or tasting things so I gave Mr NQN some to try.

no knead bread 4

"Hmm it tastes just like restaurant bread" he said. I grinned triumphantly and sent a thankyou to Stefania.

So tell me Dear Reader, do you usually eat the bread that they give you at restaurants? And do you prefer it with butter or olive oil?

No Knead Bread aka the Restaurant Sourdough Doppelganger

Slightly adapted from Jim Sullivan's recipe

  • 3 cups  flour

  • 1 1/4 cups water

  • 1 teaspoon yeast

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

  • olive oil (for coating)

  • extra flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal (for dusting)


Two medium mixing bowls

6 to 8 quart pot with lid (Pyrex glass, Le Creuset cast iron, or ceramic)

Wooden Spoon or spatula (optional)

Plastic wrap

Two or three cotton dish towels (not terrycloth)


wet wet wet
Wet, wet, wet dough

Step 1 - Mix all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add water and incorporate by hand or with a wooden spoon or spatula for 30 seconds to 1 minute. It will be a very "wet dough" but that's ok. Lightly coat the inside of a second medium bowl with olive oil and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest 12 hours at room temperature (approx. 18-22°C or 65-72°F).

Pre proofing

After proofing, fold bread

floured teatowel
Coating a tea towel with flour-you may want to add more than this as some of my dough stuck!

dough on teatowel

Dough on the floured teatowel. Yes I'm aware that you could have done without this shot ;)

Step 2 - Remove the dough from the bowl and fold once or twice. Let the dough rest 15 minutes in the bowl or on the work surface. Next, shape the dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal; place the dough seam side down on the towel and dust with flour. Cover the dough with a cotton towel and let rise 1-2 hours at room temperature, until more than doubled in size.

baked bread

Step 3 - Preheat oven to 240-250°C/450-500°F. Place the pot in the oven while it is preheating. Once the dough has more than doubled in volume, remove the pot from the oven and place the dough in the pot seam side up. Cover with the lid and bake 30 minutes. Then remove the lid and bake 15-30 minutes uncovered, until the loaf is nicely browned.

no knead bread 2

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