Dutch oven No-Knead bread


Active Member
If opening day still seems like a long way off or you are just sick of tying flies here is a little diversion that will put a smile on your face and delight your palate. The No-Knead bread made quite a splash a few years back being lauded as a ridiculously easy way to make an excellent tasting bread. I tried it a while back but didn't have such good luck with it. But with winter here I have had time to build many loaves and have honed my technique into a truly delicious result.

And it is really easy. You need a small dutch oven for baking and just 4 ingredients: 3 cups or 13.5 oz of bread flour, 1 1/4 tsp of sea salt, a scant 1/4 tsp of yeast and about 1 3/8 cup of water. These are the same ingredients that would be used in a fine loaf of french bread but here they are used in an entirely different manner. With the No-Knead you just whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl and mix in the water to build a shaggy rustic dough. That's it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside for 14-20 hours. The longer it ferments the better the flavor it seems. Take it out of the bowl, fold it over a couple of times and let it set for another 15 minutes or so. Then form it into a ball and let it rise for another 2 hours or until it has doubled in size. At the 1 1/2 hour point put the dutch oven in your big oven and preheat it for about 30 minutes at 440-450 degrees. Then the dough goes into the DO with the lid on and it bakes for 30 minutes covered. After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake it another 10-15 minutes or until it has browned to your satisfaction. Cool the bread before eating to give the flavor a chance to fully develop and never, never put it in the refrigerator!

What you should end up with is a loaf that has a skin that shatters when you bite into it, a crust that is chewy and a crumb that is soft and aromatic. Excellent with cheese and wine it is also great with butter and honey as toast and makes superb french toast as well. I have included pictures of the ingredients, the dough at the beginning and 20 hours later, the finished loaf and the reward.

I would recommend using fresh bread flour, non iodized salt, fresh yeast and preferably bottled water instead of treated tap water. To get more specifics just Google No Knead bread and an overwhelming amount of information will show up. Not all of the suggestions are good. For instance, the thing that gives this bread its crisp outer shell is the amount of hydration in the dough. It has to be a fairly moist dough to get the right result but some suggest raising the dough on a floured tea towel then putting it in the DO when it has risen. Don't do that unless you want to bake the tea towel along with the dough. I use a large bowl that I wet down with olive oil the same as I do for my pizza dough. I tried the tea towel thing at first and used up my entire vocabulary of profanities before I ever freed the dough from the towel.

We have baked all of our own bread for over 10 years and although we build some pretty fancy loaves from time to time we agree that this is one of the very best tasting breads we make and by far the simplest and least labor or skill intensive. Give it a try and see what you have been missing by eating store bought bread. You might not get the perfect loaf the first time but it won't take much practice to dial it in. Enjoy.

Ed Call

Well-Known Member
Ive, that looks devine! The Mrs. made some bread today, bread bowls to hold some awesome chilli. The bowl and the filling was most excellent! Yours looks every bit as tasty.
(I did hear some profanities from the kitchen today. I think they were mostly about the girls patting down the rising dough in the bowl on the counter.)
The No-Knead method is great--I had never made good bread before until I tried this very easy method and now can turn out tasty bread every time.

Another tip is to make a double batch if you have two suitable pans (anything similar to a dutch oven) since you might as well fill the oven while it is hot. Enameled cast iron pans also work but remove the original lid handle and replace with a metal drawer pull. Many have 'heat safe' handles but not up to 500. A foil top on any fairly heavy, oven safe vessel that will fit the bread works as well.
:thumb:Ive, thanks for the tip. I have been tinkering with bread making for a couple of years, and lately
sourdough and whole grain flour. I guess I have always thought that kneading has to be part of the
process in order to get good bread. I had heard of no knead bread, but did not take it seriously.
Wow, was I wrong! This method is wonderful. Great taste with minimum fuss.
Now, I am trying it with sourdough starter, and then will try it with whole grain flour.
Great stuff, thanks again.