Basic No-Knead Bread
I’ve already posted my favourite No-Knead Oatmeal Bread recipe, but I thought I would also share my super quick base recipe that I use either totally on its own, or as a jumping off point for various flavoured loaves. I most often use it to make a quick, cheat version of the oatmeal loaf (see recipe notes), but I have also turned it into a luscious double chocolate bread (perfect with raspberry jam!), as well as a tasty rosemary and lemon scented loaf. The possibilities are endless!
This is a variation of Jim Lahey’s no-knead recipe – I thank him every day for changing the way I make bread. This large, double loaf sees our family of four through about a week (I freeze 1/2 as soon as it’s cool). Feel free to halve the recipe if you don’t need such a large loaf, or if you only have a small dutch oven (mine is 6 quarts).
The dough comes together quickly, which is great, as I’m often hopping out of bed to start it at 11:00 pm when I realize we’ve finished the previous week’s loaf. Organized I’m not!
Basic No Knead Bread
A delicious, whole grain bread that comes together quickly.
- 2 2/3 cups water
- 1/2 tsp yeast
- 1 tbsp salt
- 950 grams flour Roughly 7 1/2 cups. (See notes.)
Pour the cool water into the bowl of your mixer (or into a mixing bowl). Sprinkle yeast over the surface. Leave for several minutes to ensure it's active. Add the salt.
Measure the flour and add to your bowl. Stir well. Once the flour is mostly incorporated, turn the mixer on to medium/high, and let it mix until dough forms a rough ball (a minute or so). Remove dough hook, and cover the bowl with a clean plate or plastic wrap and set aside for 12 to 18 hours (at room temperature).
When the dough looks like it has doubled (the surface will be flat and bubbly), lay out a large towel and flour it generously. Flour the surface of the dough (it will be sticky), and scrape it onto the floured towel. Deflate dough by folding edges up and towards the middle of the ball, moving in a circular motion around the ball. Pick up your dough, continue tucking the edges under, forming a smooth round shape. Add more flour to the surface of the towel, and put your ball of dough down on it, seam down. Sprinkle the top of the ball with more flour, and flip the four corners of the towel over the dough so it's completely wrapped, but loosely. Let dough sit for an hour and forty minutes. When the timer goes, put your dutch oven (with lid) in the oven, and preheat to 425 degrees.
When the oven is hot, carefully remove the dutch oven and take off the lid. Unwrap your dough, slide a hand under it, and carefully flip it into the (ungreased!) dutch oven. The bottom seam of your dough will become the beautiful crack in the top of the loaf – no cutting necessary! If the dough isn’t centered in your pot, just give it a shake until it is. Put the lid back on the dutch oven, and return to the oven.
Bake bread, covered, for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, remove the lid, and bake for another 12 – 15 minutes. Remove pot from the oven, flip bread onto a cooling rack, and let cool. Listen to the loaf crackle and "sing" as it cools.
Try not to eat it all in one sitting!
This is wonderful on its own, but it also works extremely well as the base for all kinds of variations. I use it most often to make a cheat version of my oatmeal loaf using leftover steel cut oats (which we make in large amounts for breakfast and almost always have in the fridge). I just add 1 cup of cooked, cooled oats to the bowl with the yeast and salt. (You may want to sprinkle the towel with rolled oats when wrapping for it’s final rise – this will decorate the top of your finished loaf.)
I like a combination of unbleached flour and either sprouted spelt or einkorn flour (sub any finely milled hard whole wheat). I tend to do a little more than half of the spelt (about 500 grams). You can bump it up to 100% whole wheat, and it will still be delicious, but more dense. Play with it to see what you prefer.