5& 1/2 hour no-knead bread
October 9, 2008 6:21 AM   Subscribe

Mark Bittman updates the no-knead bread recipe to make it faster, healthier. For the four of you that don't read Lifehacker or Mark Bittman's pieces in the New York Times, but who love baking bread.

Bittman's updated version of Jim Lahey’s recipe does not require remembering to start mixing ingredients last night if you want bread for dinner today. Bittman also includes a whole-grain recipe as well.

It's been posted earlier, I believe, but I'll remind anyone who missed it that Cook's Illustrated worked on the Leahy recipe to improve its flavor. They also came up with a neat technique of using a parchment paper sling to handle the loaf. I would have thought their recipe was behind their subscription firewall, but it looks like they made it openly available.
posted by mojohand (60 comments total) 116 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks! I look forward to trying these, and I'd have missed them.
posted by leahwrenn at 6:42 AM on October 9, 2008


As one of those four non-readers, I thank you for posting these recipes. I now have a weekend project. And I was just starting to get the hang of kneading dough.
posted by Brodiggitty at 6:46 AM on October 9, 2008


I love the original NY Times recipe, I took a loaf of it to a pot-luck and everyone ooh'ed and ahh'ed about how wonderful it was. I felt almost guilty that I'd put something like twenty minutes of work into it.
posted by octothorpe at 6:56 AM on October 9, 2008


I'm going to mix up a batch and bake it tonight! There is also a community oven here too, so I will try it in the wood oven tomorrow, and make a loaf to rise overnight. Exciting.
posted by glip at 6:58 AM on October 9, 2008


I love the Cook's Illustrated version but will definitely try this for the shorter rise time; thanks for posting it.
posted by TedW at 7:04 AM on October 9, 2008


You know, kneading dough isn't really all that hard and is kind of enjoyable to boot. But I'm probably just missing the point.
posted by bondcliff at 7:05 AM on October 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


My wife makes this bread, and it rocks! I'll have to tell her there's a new version.
posted by Vindaloo at 7:06 AM on October 9, 2008


I've gone in the other direction. The original recipe was awkward for my schedule, but now I mix a batch in the morning before work, wait 24 hours, then form that loaf while mixing the next one. Before dinner I bake.
posted by Killick at 7:08 AM on October 9, 2008


But I'm probably just missing the point.

Bread-making (and baking in general) is intimidating to a lot of novice cooks. You hear about gluten strands this and resting that and it can seem like a sort of dark art. Removing as many steps as possible that aren't "mix everything together," "let it sit for a few hours," or "bake for x minutes at y degrees" takes some of the fear out of it -- now it looks no more complicated than making brownies out of a box, so those novices are more eager to give it a try, and way more confident to try more involved baking when they succeed.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:12 AM on October 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Having finally perfected my own sourdough version of the Cook's Illustrated recipe, I doubt my sourdough starter is up to the task of a 5 and a half hour rise. Although it will be nice to have this additional trick in my arsenal.
posted by Floydd at 7:13 AM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


bondcliff: "You know, kneading dough isn't really all that hard and is kind of enjoyable to boot. But I'm probably just missing the point."

I've tried to make bread via traditional recipes for years and they always came out like leaden loafs of death. This works.
posted by octothorpe at 7:27 AM on October 9, 2008


Pretty exciting. I tried the original recipe, substituting whole wheat flour for regular flour, and it turned out a little hard and flat.

BTW, does anyone know if there's a difference between "active yeast" and "instant yeast"? My local grocery store didn't seem to have yeast that explicitly said "instant" and that could have been the problem.
posted by ignignokt at 7:29 AM on October 9, 2008


BTW, does anyone know if there's a difference between "active yeast" and "instant yeast"?

Active dry yeast requires proofing in warm water first. Instant yeast does not. Some grocery stores keep the active stuff in the baking aisle and the instant in a refrigerator somewhere.
posted by bondcliff at 7:33 AM on October 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


No-Knead Bread is probably my favorite recipe of the last ten years. Totally changed how I thought about baking. Got me interested enough in the science of bread that I bought this book (recommended)

Thanks for this update.
posted by gwint at 7:36 AM on October 9, 2008


I've been making the original recipe and a variation with whole wheat flour since it was first posted on the blue. I can't describe how utterly fantastic it turns out every time and how great it tasks still warm with butter slathered on it. I've definitely trying this new variation this weekend.

ignignokit, I use 1 cup whole wheat flour and two cups regular bread flour instead of all whole wheat.
posted by beowulf573 at 7:37 AM on October 9, 2008


I've done the new, quick white bread version, and the old in white, all wheat and mixed wheat and white.

The new one still gives a nice loaf with a good crust, but it isn't quite as tasty and the crumb isn't as good. Still, it isn't bad at all. Takes about 6 hours for everything, versus 18-20, so I suspect I'll make the quick version more often.

As soon as I figure out if I own a loaf pan, I'll do the all wheat quick version.
posted by QIbHom at 7:37 AM on October 9, 2008


I'm missing the point too. Kneading dough takes five to ten minutes and it's like playing with a stress ball. Plus you can listen to music or watch TV while you do it. If you're going to go to effort of making bread in the first place, I can't see why you wouldn't do it properly.
posted by rhymer at 7:39 AM on October 9, 2008


I use a bread machine. MUAHAHAHAHAHA

(But I only ever use it to make pizza dough. That's because we buy loaves of bread at the store. DOUBLEMUAHAHAHAHAHA)
posted by DU at 7:43 AM on October 9, 2008


The point of the recipe isn't that it's easier than kneaded bread, it's that it's actually better. Specifically, the lightness and richness of the crumb (thanks to the length of the rise) and the crispness of the crust (thanks to the "fake steam oven" technique.)
posted by gwint at 7:49 AM on October 9, 2008


Will it work with Gluten Free flour?
posted by stbalbach at 7:55 AM on October 9, 2008


It's true that consistent heat and steam control are going to do wonders for the bread's crust (instead of the rather inexact "throw some ice cubes in a heat sink at the bottom of the oven" mechanism), but I'd like to try this versus a similar-based sponge-fermented recipe - I'm curious if the beer/vinegar makes up for the difference in flavor.
posted by abulafa at 7:56 AM on October 9, 2008


The point of the recipe isn't that it's easier than kneaded bread, it's that it's actually better. Specifically, the lightness and richness of the crumb (thanks to the length of the rise) and the crispness of the crust (thanks to the "fake steam oven" technique.)

But both of these things are done with a properly kneaded bread recipe. I always add steam to the mix and when I have time I give it a slow rise, sometimes overnight in the fridge. If I need a loaf faster I’ll toss it in my car on a summer day and give it a quick rise.

Now, I don’t doubt that this recipe makes a good loaf, but I have a feeling it’s, as middleclasstool said, more to do with taking away the intimidation factor than anything else. People are willing to try it and when they get good results they claim it’s the greatest thing since, well, the sliced kind of bread, because they made it themselves and they’re excited and proud.

To each his own though, especially so with cooking, so I’m glad this recipe is opening the world of bread baking to people who wouldn’t try it otherwise.
posted by bondcliff at 7:58 AM on October 9, 2008


Will it work with Gluten Free flour?

Not a chance, if my mother's experience of gluten-free baking is anything to go by.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:58 AM on October 9, 2008


Ok, so there's four recent no-knead recipes:

1. The original Lahey recipe
2. The Cook's Illustrated variation
3. Mark Bittman's faster version, which creates a weaker crust, according to Lahey
4. Lahey's faster version, which uses less yeast, 1/4 tsp. of red vinegar and hot water.

Are #3 and #4 online in simple text form, or do I have to watch the NYT video again and take notes?
posted by mecran01 at 8:38 AM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Stupid question -- the whole wheat recipe calls for a bit of oil. Which type should I use? (I'm the type of person that needs EVERYTHING spelled out in a recipe.)
posted by inigo2 at 8:40 AM on October 9, 2008


Are #3 and #4 online in simple text form, or do I have to watch the NYT video again and take notes?

There's two recipes with Bittman's article:
Fast No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread
Speedy No-Knead Bread (#3 in your list, I think.)
posted by inigo2 at 8:42 AM on October 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


Ah, thanks. I couldn't find them in the original piece.
posted by mecran01 at 8:46 AM on October 9, 2008


I really should think about supper far enough ahead to make this sometime. It looks yummy and crusty.

For the the more common seat-of-our-pants approach to supper of my household, though, beer bread can be made in an hour, tastes great (not less filling, though!), and can be modified to fit any meal flavor-wise. It's not as crusty and is a moist bread, but that's not necessarily a drawback in my book. Susan has some great suggestions for variations. Cheddar-dill or rosemary-garlic beer bread is great with a quick spaghetti supper. Oatmeal-raisin beer bread goes great with breakfast. And bread is a great way to use those fruity beers that I don't like otherwise, to make lemon beer bread or blueberry oatmeal beer bread.
posted by notashroom at 8:51 AM on October 9, 2008 [6 favorites]


I make 2 kinds of bread. Lahey's original recipe and my father's basic country loaf recipe. The point that Cook's and Bittman both miss is that Lahey's recipe has very little time-intensive (ie, repeated steps, time dependant steps and checking) labor involved.

And I'm mildly offended that Cook's can't get its mind around craft beer and suggested using budwieser as the beer in their recipe.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 8:57 AM on October 9, 2008


I'm missing the point too. Kneading dough takes five to ten minutes and it's like playing with a stress ball. Plus you can listen to music or watch TV while you do it. If you're going to go to effort of making bread in the first place, I can't see why you wouldn't do it properly.

Jesus Christ. My wife loves kneading and misses it when she makes this, but she makes it anyway because it's FUCKING GOOD. You are indeed missing the point, but your assumption that you do everything "properly" is working fine.
posted by languagehat at 8:57 AM on October 9, 2008


inigo2: whole wheat recipe calls for a bit of oil. Which type should I use?

It probably doesn't matter too much between vegetable oil (or canola oil) versus olive oil. Olive oil (especially extra virgin) is going to add some flavor to the bread, so you are probably better off with something neutral-tasting like canola, vegetable, or light olive oil. That's sort of the general rule of thumb with baked goods that contain oils.
posted by sararah at 9:00 AM on October 9, 2008


Which type should I use?

I like 5W30, but you might want to go with canola, or another similarly-light-flavored oil. You're using so little--it's just to keep the dough from drying out--that it really doesn't matter.

suggested using budwieser as the beer in their recipe

You probably do want something light-flavored, though; I suppose something as big as Sam Adams or Fat Tire would be okay, but you probably want to avoid anything that's been bottle-conditioned, as many crafts are, to avoid innoculating your bread with beer (or champagne) yeast.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:01 AM on October 9, 2008


(Yes, the chances of getting enough yeast from a bottle of beer to overcome, or even co-exist with, the bread yeast is really small, but it's a possibility you probably want to eliminate in a published recipe.)
posted by uncleozzy at 9:07 AM on October 9, 2008


I have no fear of kneading, and love that the Cook's Illustrated version of this lets me knead a little, but yeah, the reason I make this bread is to get a partial whole-wheat peasanty loaf that has an awesome crumb and upper crust. All my old whole wheat loves could have been used as shotputs.

I'm still having some problems with the CI recipe, though, as the bottom crust is quite thick and hard and, often, too brown when I bake it in my Le Creuset casserole. Baking for less time helped, but the inside was sticky. Should I add a tablespoon of oil to the dough, or is there something else I can do?
posted by maudlin at 9:12 AM on October 9, 2008


All my old whole wheat loves could have been used as shotputs.

And my loaves, too.
posted by maudlin at 9:18 AM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


The last time I made bread by hand, I forgot to put salt in it. It tasted like sadness.
posted by boo_radley at 9:24 AM on October 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


I have no need for no-knead bread: I like to knead. I need to squeeze
bread with my hands, and even knees, or with my head. And any other breed
of bread that needs no kneading is not pleasing. If fact, if no-knead bread
I spy or even breath, I start to seethe, and needles of unease start to unthread
me by degrees: I sneeze, I freeze, I weaze and know that I'll drop dead
if no bread that needs a kneading is pretty soon before me spread.
That's my disease: a dread of bread that needs no kneading. And so, instead
of seizing bread that has no need of kneading, please appease me (I'm appealing).
You'll say: "but he's just teasing us with what he's said!" But if you sneer at me
as at some weed, you'll find that I bleed red. Hence, please - think of me kneeling -
give me only bread that needs a kneading, and I will tread about you as a devotee:
I'll see you're fed with kneaded bread enough to satisfy your greed.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:16 AM on October 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


Hmmm... I'm suspicious of the claim that 'most' craft beers are bottle conditioned. Bottle conditioning leaves a bit of super-yeasty trub at the bottom of the bottle, making it far preferable to pour the beer into a glass instead of drinking straight from the bottle. 'Most' of the craft beers I drink regularly (Laguanitas, Stone, Deschutes, Rogue, oh god, I'm a drunk...) definitely don't have a trub, though I have occasionally found some that do. Hefeweizens are the notable exception to this; they usually are bottle conditioned, but do just fine with a high yeast content anyways.
posted by kaibutsu at 10:16 AM on October 9, 2008


No-Kneed Bread: the Fixed-Gear Bicycle of Loaf-y Foods
posted by BeerFilter at 10:34 AM on October 9, 2008


By an interesting coincidence, I just acquired an enamelled Dutch oven. (Turns out that Lodge is making them now. You no longer have to shell out for Le Creuset.) I guess I should give this a try.

The last time I made bread by hand, I forgot to put salt in it. It tasted like sadness.

I misread this the first time as "tasted like sardines".
posted by tangerine at 10:41 AM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think I'll stick to the 40+ year old no knead bread recipe that's in the Cranks Recipe Book, thanks.
posted by scruss at 10:54 AM on October 9, 2008


Don't knock no-knead until you try it. As others said, it's not a "disruptive technology" recipe because it's easier, but because it is far better. Any fool with a proper pan can make a mind-numbingly awesome loaf with this technique. Crust to die for, big airy holes and depth of flavor comparable to the best of what you can buy outside of central Europe.

I too was a skeptic. Until I tried it. Popping my first bread loaf out onto a drying rack and hearing the bread crack was a revelation. When I cut into the loaf, it was rapture. My boys and wife and I nearly ate the entire loaf before it fully cooled. I still am in disbelief that I can make bread that good without a single special ingredient or piece of equipment.

Try it. I suggest the original Bittman recipe linked to above.
posted by Patapsco Mike at 10:57 AM on October 9, 2008


As another "would prefer to have everything spelled out to me" type person, can someone link to a picture of an example of a "heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic)",as mentioned in the recipe? Please?
posted by joelhunt at 11:01 AM on October 9, 2008


IKEA has them too, tangerine. Of course, Lodge are good people.

Kneading is threatening to me. I've broken one of my hands often enough that I'm a bit leery of stressing it. Silly fear, perhaps, but there it is.


The first time I made the long version was because it sounded easy and idiot-proof. The second, third, fourth, etc. times were because it is stunningly good bread, with a wonderful thick, chewy top, great crumb and overall deliciousness. The only thing that stops me making it is hot weather, when running an oven at 450F just isn't going to happen for anything short of stuffing Republican candidates inside.
posted by QIbHom at 11:01 AM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


joelhunt, like this.
posted by QIbHom at 11:03 AM on October 9, 2008


Neato. I have a pot like that, but fire engine red (which seems appropriately jaunty for homemade bread). Thanks!
posted by joelhunt at 11:17 AM on October 9, 2008


I'm suspicious of the claim that 'most' craft beers are bottle conditioned

I think I said "many," but of those that you mention, Rogue in particular certainly are, and I believe most, or all, Stone beers are, as well. Sierra Nevada, too. It's reasonably common for homebrewers to harvest yeast from bottle-conditioned beers (Rogue's "Pacman" strain is particularly popular).

Commercial beers that are bottle-conditioned are usually much clearer than bottle-conditioned homebrews for a number of reasons, but in some cases, it's because they've been filtered before bottling (removing the yeast used for primary fermentation, among other bits of trub) and had a priming yeast pitched (in a smaller volume, presumably). So sometimes you're getting the regular yeast (many American micros), and sometimes something different (maybe champagne yeast) in the bottle. Here's an old rundown of who's got what in the bottle.

Back on topic, I tried the no-knead recipe last year or the year before, and it just sort of stuck to the pot. Obviously I did something wrong... I'll have to give it another go if it's really that good.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:19 AM on October 9, 2008


Where is the original non-speedy Lahey no-knead bread recipe?
posted by cereselle at 11:25 AM on October 9, 2008


I have been baking for years and years. To me, kneading is the fun part and imparts the love-on taste comfort food requires. I will try these no knead breads for the heck of it. My basic 3-4 hr bread however always gets ohs and ahs as it is.
posted by shockingbluamp at 11:47 AM on October 9, 2008


kaibutsu, you're getting your beer elitism in the bread elitism thread. No worries, though--they taste great together!
posted by cirocco at 11:50 AM on October 9, 2008


The original no-knead recipe:

Linky

November 8, 2006
Recipe: No-Knead Bread

Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.
posted by mecran01 at 12:04 PM on October 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Count me as one of the four. I also don't have an iPhone or even an iPod. It's not so much that I'm anti-anything, certainly not anti-hipster, I'm just more of what you'd call "lame."
posted by Pollomacho at 12:15 PM on October 9, 2008


I've been alternating between a no knead sourdough and a white/wheat blend using the recipes at Breadtopia. It sucks to have to plan 18 hours ahead (in the case of sourdough) but the no knead process appeals to the lazy in me. And it still tastes awesome.

Thanks for the post--I'm gonna try this out.
posted by Tacodog at 1:11 PM on October 9, 2008


DOUGH NOT KNEAD!!!
posted by Herodios at 1:15 PM on October 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


When you have done the no-knead and are ready to try 'proper' French bread I can heartily recommend Dough by Richard Bertinet
The included DVD will teach you a really simple kneading technique.
posted by Lanark at 1:52 PM on October 9, 2008


Neat links, and perfect timing too, as I've just started making bread at home.
posted by lekvar at 2:23 PM on October 9, 2008


Thanks for the clarification (so to speak), uncleozzy. (And sorry about the 'mis-quote'.)

Also back on topic, I made the no-knead bread from the NYT recipe a few times and it always came out wonderfully. If I recall properly, it's the combination of flour and chunky bits from the cornmeal that help to keep the bread from sticking to the pot. The worst part for me was definitely the timing. ("Ok," I say to myself, "if I get the loaf in the closet at around midnight, it should be ready to bake when I get home from the office at 6pm the next day.")

In an attempt to connect topics, it is thought by some that beer started with Egyptians more-or-less fermenting wet bread. So obviously we need to take the next step and design a no-knead beer.
posted by kaibutsu at 5:35 PM on October 9, 2008


Man, if I could have beer ready in 12 hours, that'd be fantastic.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:48 PM on October 9, 2008


I would also point to Bittman's revisions to the original recipe that appeared in the NYT about a month later. This story taught me the word "Silpat", and sent me to the shop to buy one.

Has anyone tried upsizing this recipe to make a larger (taller) loaf? I love the product, but it seems kind of a squat loaf at the end of the day. Not the best for sammiches.
posted by sagwalla at 3:21 AM on October 10, 2008


Sagwalla, I've often doubled or even tripled the first version to bake in a large la cloche and it's worked well (though handling the dough, even with a Cook's Irritated parchment sling, is a bit trickier. I have a longer clay thing for roasting chicken (i think) and it makes a nice oblong, slice-able loaf with a double recipe.
posted by Mngo at 3:17 PM on October 13, 2008


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