Nice No Knead Bread

Over the back fence, the Nice Neighbors were telling me about this great bread they make. It’s from a book about “5 minute no knead bread”. I decided to give it a whirl, but looked things up on the internet instead. While the book authors (per one posting at Mother Earth by them) seem to claim this is their new invention, I’m pretty sure I remember Mum talking about some no-knead breads when I was but a wee child at her apron strings in the kitchen…

In any case, it’s nearly trivial to make and comes out pretty good. I’ll give some links below, but here’s what I did first and up front.

2 Cups all purpose flour
1 Cup water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry yeast

Mix yeast salt and water in a bowl. Add the flour and mix with a spoon to a consistency about 1/2 way from stiff dough to batter. It is soft, wet, and a bit sloppy, but not runny.

Set it aside (I used a 1/2 gallon plastic tub from ice cream back when it came in 1/2 gallons, the links say to use a bowl covered with greased plastic wrap. I don’t see any reason at all to grease plastic – just use a deeper pan with a lid… that fits loose).

After 2 to 12 hours ( I used 2.5 or so) come back and gently shake it (or stir just a little with the spoon) to get the biggest bubbles out of it. Turn it out on a heavily floured surface and GENTLY, turn it to coat with flour. (Getting the water right without weighing is hard so my ‘someday’ list includes turning this into ‘by mass’ rather than ‘by volume’. I have no idea what easy to remember units this would be in Metric. 500 grams, 250 grams, 5 ml 5 ml ? Maybe?). Then form into a loaf. The links put the loaf as a ’round’ onto a pizza stone. I used a 9 inch low flat tin pan as that was what I had.

Put a pan of water in the oven to help make it crusty. Nick the top so it expands easy. Put in a 400 F oven for about 1/2 hour to 40 minutes. Here’s what you get:

Nice Artisan No Knead Bread Loaf

Nice Artisan No Knead Bread Loaf

And here’s a view of the crumb:

Nice Artisan No Knead Bread view of crumb

Nice Artisan No Knead Bread view of crumb

I tried making a 1/2 sized loaf in a ceramic oval 1/2 sized casserole dish. It worked very well, but sticks to the glaze, so “note to self” to do the usual grease and flour coating if I do that again. No pictures of that loaf as it got eaten during the de-panning ;-)

It was a bit stiffer and taller than the second loaf pictured above. Like I said, by mass measure would be more consistent. Or add flour to a consistent stiffness that’s not stiff…

The other things I learned were that with the relatively wet dough in a ceramic dish (trying to be a pizza stone but starting out cold) the bottom crust isn’t crust. Just bread. Nice and soft, but not crusty. I’ll try a tile paver next. I’ve got a bunch of them…

Using a pie tin for the crust making steam worked really well. Do NOT set it directly under the tin pan at 2 inches down as it blocks the IR from the bottom and again you get a weak bottom crust. Nice, but pale. (Unlike my non-watered loves that traditionally make a nice bottom crust in the tins… so I’m pretty sure it was just the IR blocking pie pan…) But the steam does make for a nice upper crust.

The crumb is very soft and moist, but a bit too tender and coarse for making sandwiches. (We’ll see how it does after cooling and standing overnight… if it lasts that long…) The crust is crisp without being too tough or hard.

All in all, a very nice ‘eating out of hand’ bread that does wonderfully with a layer of butter and jam!

The “dough” can be set in the fridge for a week or two and just take a chunk off later for another loaf. One of the links uses a 13 : 6 flour water ratio (in cups!) and makes a very big batch of dough to be used over the week… so a bit drier than my 12 : 6 ratio.

It is also possible to run the dough bucket rather like a sour dough process with taking half out, and replacing the flour and water and salt but letting the yeast just work for a couple of hours before it goes back in the fridge (and while the removed portion bakes ;-)

I’m going to be running my 1/2 gallon bucket that way for a while and see how it goes. Add 2 cups flour, one cup water, tsp salt. Stir. Wait 2 hours and divide. Cook half. Half to the fridge in the bucket.

IMHO the 1 tsp dry yeast is a bit high. The book seems to have a yeast company as one of their advertisers… I made one batch with 1/2 the yeast and it worked fine, if a bit slower. Since yeast can be THE most expensive part of home made bread (if bought in those little packets) it is what needs to be economized…

The Links

A web search turns up dozens of pages:

5-Minute No-Knead Bread Machine Baguette Recipe – Copywriters’…
5-Minute No-Knead Bread Machine Baguette Recipe. 2 cups flour 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon sugar 1 teaspoon yeast 2/3 water 1 tablespoon cornmeal one egg white, beaten.
[Search domain]…

5-minute no-knead bread | The Sisters Cafe
5-minute no-knead bread. I went to a meeting about food storage recently and they shared this recipe for no-knead bread that I really liked! I went right home and made it for dinner the next day.
[Search domain]

5 Minute No Knead Artisan Bread | Tickling Palates
5 Minute No Knead Artisan Bread. January 10, 2013 By Radhika 32 Comments. Do not be surprised by the heading because what you read is correct, it took me all of 5 minutes to put together this bread and look what a beauty is has turned out to be.
[Search domain]

No Knead Bread Recipe in Less than 5 Minutes a Day
Resources for No Knead Artisan Bread. A pizza stone. I have no idea how my kitchen survived so long without this. Fresh Bread in Five Minutes a Day Recipe-This and over 40 other recipes in Pioneering Today. 3 cups lukewarm water or 120 degrees.
[Search domain]…

No-Knead Bread Recipe – NYT Cooking
No-Knead Bread. Mark Bittman. YieldOne 1 1/2-pound loaf. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball.
[Search domain]

This one interested me as they also have a lot of other vegetarian recipes (and my clan is about 1/2 vegetarian plus I really really like Indian food ;-)


All Purpose flour – 3+1/4 cups
Active Dry yeast – 3/4 tbsp
Salt – 1/4 tsp
Water, lukewarm – 1+1/2 cups
Flour – for dusting

So a 2 : 1 ratio of flour to water, but with an added 1/6 of flour… Also the salt is lower than many others. I made one loaf with 1/2 the salt in my ratio above and it was nice and a bit ‘sweeter’. I think proportions can vary widely and it’s just what ‘style’ it is that changes… I also can’t figure why on earth you would need 3/4 TBSP of yeast… First off, it’s a strange measure. Second, it’s close to 2 tsp ( a Tbsp is 3 tsp) and I used as low as 1/2 tsp in a 2 cup flour mix… All that changes is how fast the first rise…

King Arthur makes decent semi-upscale flour and generally know what they are doing.

Has a nice feature that lets you click volume, ounces, or grams:



680g lukewarm water
907g King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour*
14g salt
14g instant yeast

So for those of you who are “fraction challenged” there it is in metric. (Though looks to me like clearly a conversion from the English units… I’d make it as 15 grams 15 grams for salt and yeast, and then try a kilo of flour and 750 grams of water… ought to be nearly exactly the same.

Here’s the Mother Earth article. They run you through 2 pages of ‘happy talk’ and ads to get to the recipe. This link starts at page 3… They use 450 F but I think that makes too dark a loaf.

The “6-3-3-13” rule. To store enough for eight loaves, remember 6-3-3-13. It’s 6 cups water, 3 tablespoons salt, 3 tablespoons yeast, and then add 13 cups of flour. It’ll amaze your friends when you do this in their homes without a recipe!

Other links use the 2:1 ratio. YMMV with flour type and moisture content.

Then there is this Chef Michael Smith. Looks like he could be a relation, but who knows. (We’re everywhere… saw another one on TV just last week doing some kind of news / weather reporting… )


For a loaf of Country Bread
3 cups (750 mL) of all-purpose or bread flour
1 cup (250 mL) of whole wheat flour
1/2 cup (125 mL) any multigrain mix (see variations)
1/2 heaping teaspoon (3 mL) of active dry yeast
2 teaspoons (10 mL) of salt
2 1/4 (560 mL) cups of warm water

For a loaf of City Bread
5 cups (1.25 L) of all-purpose or bread flour
1/2 heaping teaspoon (3 mL) of active dry yeast
2 teaspoons (10 mL) of salt
2 1/2 cups (625 mL) of warm water

Uses 425 F / 220 C and 45 minutes. For that large a loaf, looks about right.

I’m a FoodTV host, cookbook author and official food ambassador for Prince Edward Island, more importantly I’m a Dad and passionate home cook!

Hey! Made it to FoodTV! Did I mention that We’re Everywhere? ;-)

Then there’s making it in a Dutch Oven on the trail. IIRC, this is where I ran into a no knead bread at camp back about the ’60s… but I think it’s been around even before that by a long time… But it’s a longer slower process:

The time required for the recipe is about 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising.


• 3 – 3 1/2 cups of any sort of flour plus a bit more for dusting. Start with 3, add more if needed
• 1¼ teaspoons salt
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1 envelope (¼ ounce) of yeast
• 1½ cups very warm water (not hot but around 120-125 degrees)

My guess is that the long rise time is overnight while camping in not so hot places…

They use the 2 : 1 and then add flour as needed for the right texture, which is roughly what I did with the heavily floured work surface. I think they are a bit of a tenderfoot on their directions, though:


1. Combine the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. If mixing by hand, use a large bowl and a strong wooden spoon to mix the dry ingredients.
2. Turn mixer to speed 2 and mix about 1 minute or by hand until well blended.
3. Gradually add very warm water ( 120º F works well) and continue to mix.
4. Stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky.
5. Continue to mix well until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
6. Cover bowl with plastic wrap.
7. Let dough rest at least 8 hours, preferably 12 to 18, at warm room temperature. the dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles.
8. Lightly flour a work surface and place the dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice.
9. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
10. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball.
11. Generously coat a smooth cotton towel or bakers cloth with flour.
12. Put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour.
13. Cover with another similar cotton towel and let the dough rise for about 2 hours until doubled.

Mixer?, MIXER?… what kind of person has an electric mixer when camping with a fire and coals… ( I know, I know… folks who live in RV parks in large motor homes like I did in Florida ;-)

Then pushing a little more into the past… this sounds like what my Mum described to me in about 1960 as what she learned to make in the 1920’s when she was little..

But, shhhhhh…I’ll let you in on a little secret. It’s not a new idea. In fact, no-knead bread has been around for hundreds of years.

Take for instance this recipe from Eliza Smith’s 1739 cookbook, The Compleat Housewife.

Yea Gods, another Smith…

The page is a long, detailed, and beautifully done work. Please “go there”. Nothing I could quote here would do justice. The bread is much more complicated than the others (including things like eggs and making your own imitation of home brew suds to leaven with…) and just a joy to see preservation of Old Ways being done so well.


Originally published in London in 1727, The Compleat Housewife was the first cookbook printed in the United States. William Parks, a Virginia printer, printed and sold the cookbook believing there would be a strong market for it among Virginia housewives who wanted to keep up with the latest London fashions—the book was a best-seller there. Parks did make some attempt to Americanize it, deleting certain recipes “the ingredients or material for which are not to be had in this country,” but for the most part, the book was not adjusted to American kitchens. Even so, it became the first cookery best seller in the New World, and Parks’s major book publication.

I grumble in passing that I have from time to time spelled “complete” as “compleat” and been chastized for it… I often spell things in archaic ways, even if I’ve not seen it that way before. Maybe it’s a reincarnation thing… or just that Mum was English and had old books around the house…

That “Savoring the Past” posting has links to google books for 2 other very old cookbooks. I’ve not taken the time (yet) to find downloads.

But having arrived back in the mid 1700s, I think it is time to stop; lest further quotes end up in old Dutch and Breton… Suffice it to say that there is a VERY long history to ‘no knead bread’ and it was NOT just invented by the latest book authors…

With that, time to have a late snack… Maybe a bit of toast and jam ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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5 Responses to Nice No Knead Bread

  1. E.M.Smith says:

    Found links to download the other two old cookbooks:

    English Housewifery: Exemplified in above Four Hundred and Fifty Receipts Giving Directions for most Parts of Cookery
    by Moxon, Elizabeth

  2. Steve C says:

    Unless the “no-knead” option is critical, a friend recently found another interesting variation on the theme of bread: Spelt flour (-: that’s right, “spelt”, spelt “spelt” ;-) – rare in the UK, but apparently rather more easily found on the European mainland.

    From the pack (only slightly “re-sentenced” to read more easily):
    Spelt, or triticum spelta is an ancient relative of modern wheat. First cultivated over 9,000 years ago, it warrants a mention in the Book of Ezekiel in the Bible, as well as being favoured by mystics and herbalists throughout history. Legend has it that the Roman army called spelt their “marching grain”. To make wholegrain flour, the inedible outer husk is removed, leaving the inner bran and grain intact. Wholegrain Spelt flour has a deliciously complex flavour and is excellent in specialist breads or luxurious cookies.

    There’s also a recipe on the pack for a “Roman style loaf”:
    The extra liquid in this recipe bakes a loaf with a crumpet-like crumb structure
    Oven: 200°C/Fan, or 180°C/400°F/Gas mark 6
    500g Wholemeal spelt flour
    1/2tsp Salt
    1tsp Quick yeast
    1tbsp Honey
    400ml Warm water
    1tbsp Olive oil
    1 In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt and quick yeast.
    2 Dissolve the honey in the water and roughly mix it into the flour.
    3 While the dough is still craggy add the oil and mix well.
    4 Knead or work the dough for a few minutes then divide between two 500g/1lb bread tins.
    5 Cover & leave dough to rise for about 25 minutes in a warm place.
    6 Bake in a pre-heated oven for 40 – 45 minutes.

    Variety is the spice, etc.! Hope you can find some.

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    Spelt is very easy to get here. Whole Foods has it as does others. ( I had some in the kitchen some time back… wonder if I used it all up… ) The ‘no knead’ isn’t all that important to me ( I make a lot of regular kneaded bread); just the topic du jour as that was what I was playing with.

    Next week it might be whole wheat, or gluten free, or millet bread, or even an old Spelt bread…

    FWIW, emmer wheat is an even older type that you can find in some places. The wiki covers the genetics in an OK fashion:

    Plants can ‘double up’ their genes fairly easily, so one very common way you get different crops is to have the genes double up (diploid) to do it again (tetraploid) or for wheat, you can even get a 6 way hexaploid. Then the different copies can mutate in their own ways over time… Usually a dipolid has more production and fatter or more numerous bits than a monoploid. Occasionally you get two ‘close cousins’ cross to make the polypoid set, and in that case you get some of the genetics of each species.


    Wheat genetics is more complicated than that of most other domesticated species. Some wheat species are diploid, with two sets of chromosomes, but many are stable polyploids, with four sets of chromosomes (tetraploid) or six (hexaploid).

    Einkorn wheat (T. monococcum) is diploid (AA, two complements of seven chromosomes, 2n=14).

    Most tetraploid wheats (e.g. emmer and durum wheat) are derived from wild emmer, T. dicoccoides. Wild emmer is itself the result of a hybridization between two diploid wild grasses, T. urartu and a wild goatgrass such as Aegilops searsii or Ae. speltoides. The unknown grass has never been identified among now surviving wild grasses, but the closest living relative is Aegilops speltoides.The hybridization that formed wild emmer (AABB) occurred in the wild, long before domestication, and was driven by natural selection.

    Hexaploid wheats evolved in farmers’ fields. Either domesticated emmer or durum wheat hybridized with yet another wild diploid grass (Aegilops tauschii) to make the hexaploid wheats, spelt wheat and bread wheat. These have three sets of paired chromosomes, three times as many as in diploid wheat.

    Note that spelt is in that last hexaploid group, so a more recent grain in some ways than very old (and less productive) tetraploids like emmer and durum. But for a really old and more pure wheat, Einkorn is the one. It’s a bit lite on protein to make good bread, though, IIRC.

    Major cultivated species of wheat

    Hexaploid Species

    Common wheat or Bread wheat (T. aestivum) – A hexaploid species that is the most widely cultivated in the world.
    Spelt (T. spelta) – Another hexaploid species cultivated in limited quantities. Spelt is sometimes considered a subspecies of the closely related species common wheat (T. aestivum), in which case its botanical name is considered to be Triticum aestivum subsp. spelta.

    Tetraploid Species

    Durum (T. durum) – The only tetraploid form of wheat widely used today, and the second most widely cultivated wheat.
    Emmer (T. dicoccon) – A tetraploid species, cultivated in ancient times but no longer in widespread use.
    Khorasan (Triticum turgidum ssp. turanicum also called Triticum turanicum) is a tetraploid wheat species. It is an ancient grain type; Khorasan refers to a historical region in modern-day Afghanistan and the northeast of Iran. This grain is twice the size of modern-day wheat and is known for its rich nutty flavor.

    Diploid Species

    Einkorn (T. monococcum) – A diploid species with wild and cultivated variants. Domesticated at the same time as emmer wheat, but never reached the same importance.

    And then you can get into even more exotic crosses like wheat x rye in various mixes. That’s the root of Triticale that grows well in cold and makes OK bread. Not great, but OK. High yields even in colder places though…

    Health food stores have a lot of the old wheats as some folks think the crossing out to things like goat grass is the cause of their wheat intolerance… even though there is little reason behind it. But folks can develop an allergy to any protein, so it’s possible…

    FWIW, I like to put about 1/8 “different” flower into the basic bread recipes to get variety loaves with different tastes. It can add a very interesting character to a loaf.

  4. Sandy McClintock says:

    I find the ratio of flour to water has to vary from batch to batch. (currently 500g Flour to 350g water) some flour varieties (genetic?) soak up more water than others so I buy flour by the 10Kg batch and adjust ratios for the first couple of loaves. (I also add 25g dried full-cream milk)

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    @Sandy McClintock:

    Four also have variable moisture just from the ambiant humidityh at the mill or in your kitchen.

    So I buy either 10 lb or 25 lb bags and put it up in 1/2 gallon jars. (Call it 4 kilo and 10 kilo bags…) That way the moisture level stays constant for the length of the batch.

    But yes, it is remarkable how un-uniform the moisture level can be…

    FWIW, my basic “knead” loaf has a TBsp (about 15 ml) of dried milk in it… Wonderful stuff.

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