Recipes for No Knead and Other Tasty Breads

Jaime Netzer
October/November 2007
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The process of baking bread is like an homage to our past: One of our oldest foods is also one of the most satisfying to create from scratch. The smell of the classic heart-warmer can no doubt warm spirits on even the chilliest of days. As fall settles in, here are some tasty recipes for those with bread machines or sturdy palms: The no knead recipe requires neither.

Fast White Bread
From The Joy of Cooking

This is a quick and easy yeast bread designed to work with quick-rise yeast, regular active dry yeast works too. Stir together in a large bowl or the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer:

2 cups bread flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1 package (2? teaspoons) quick-rise or active dry yeast
1? tsp. salt

1 cup very warm (115 to 125 degrees) water
2 tbsp. butter or margarine, melted or softened

Mix by hand or on low speed for 1 minute. Add ? cup at a time until the dough is moist but not sticky:
1 to 1? cups bread flour

Knead for about 10 minutes by hand or with the dough hook on low to medium speed, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn it over to coat with oil. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (75 to 85 degrees) until doubled in bulk, 40 to 45 minutes. Grease a 9-by-5 inch loaf pan. Punch down the dough, form it into a loaf, and place seam side down in the pan. Oil the surface and cover loosely with a clean cloth. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 20 to 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Bake the loaf for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake about 30 minutes more. Bake until the crust is golden brown. Remove the loaf from the pan to a rack and let cool completely.

Yields: One 9-by-5-inch loaf

For Bread Machines: Hearty Winter Bread

7/8 cup water
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup cornmeal
2? cup white bread flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2? tsp. active dry yeast

Add ingredients in the order given by the manufacturer of your bread machine.
Select the sweet or basic setting and desired crust color setting; press start.

Makes a 2 pound loaf.

Onion Beer Bread
For onion lovers! This scrumptious recipe from The Flavorful Seasons Cookbook is easy for anyone.

3 cups self-rising flour
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
10 ounces room-temperature light beer
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup onion, minced
Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients. Pour into a lightly sprayed 9-inch loaf pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For those without a bread machine or a strong set of hands, there is another option: don't knead the dough at all. That's right; it's possible to bake bread without any palm work whatsoever. The New York Times posted the following recipe, which actually yielded an edible loaf of bread for this novice baker. Check out the December 2007/January 2008 issue of Mother Earth News for much more on this No Knead bread technique. I recently tried this technique for myself and have included my tips and mishaps in bold.

No Knead Bread
Time: About 1? hours plus 14 to 20 hours' rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 tsp. instant yeast
1? tsp. salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed for dusting (At my mother's suggestion, I ditched both and just used extra flour.)

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. (The dough will not just be sticky, it will be incredibly gummy.) Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees. (I let my dough rise for a full 18 hours resting on and/or close to a heating pad set on low, to combat the chilly air that had moved in the weekend I chose for my adventure.)

2. 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. (I could not, and did not, 'fold' the dough. It was so sticky that the best I could do was attempt to turn it over. Luckily, my 'loaf' still rose as it should have.) 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. (Again, I basically failed at this step. Even though I avoided terry cloth, the towel I choose was still porous enough that my dough completely cemented itself into it's grooves, and I could not keep my hands coated with enough flour to shape the dough into anything, as it was clinging to my fingers.) 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. (Luckily, my dough still did this, though it was a huge amorphous blob, not a neat ball with a seam.)

4. At least a half an 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 OK ('Look like a mess' equaled a sticky, no-seamed blob of dough and way too much extra flour hanging out in the Pyrex dish I used.) Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed. 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 1?-pound loaf.

(Incredibly, despite all inconsistencies between my loaf and the one described in the recipe, I still created a sweet-smelling, slightly chewy but honestly and notably delicious loaf of bread with crispy, golden crust. I just had to dust an embarrassing amount of flour off of it before I sliced it up.)

You'll also want to check out Easy, No Knead Crusty Bread in the December 2007/January 2008 issue of Mother Earth News. There's even a video demonstration of the technique and an explanation of how it works. Happy baking!

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Post a comment below.


Susan Tyree
10/8/2007 12:00:00 AM
I would like to see a little more fiber involved. These recipes are mostly white flour. I make a delicious loaf of whole wheat and white whole wheat bread (whole wheat of a lighter color).One reason I started making bread was to get a healthier loaf. I enjoy kneading it, but there may be a way to do it without kneading.Thank you, Susan

Jane Jones
10/6/2007 12:00:00 AM
Thank you Jaime for your great comments and sense of adventure!This recipe reminds me of one I used to make in Austraila in the 1990's, which I think I got from Grass Roots magazine. The sticky mess produced at the end of the first rise was unbelievable as something that would produce a good loaf of bread, and yet somehow it did! I used wholewheat flour, and also changed things a bit at the end of the first rise, by adding a cup or two of presoaked mixed grains and seeds like buckwheat, oats, barley, rye, linseed, sunflower seeds. I then turned the mess onto a well floured work surface, sprinkled flour over the top, and worked the flour in with my hands until the mix wasn't so sticky anymore. It wasn't really kneading, just turning the bread in on itself as I added more flour, this stage took a few minutes only. It surely was messy though, as my hands ended up coated with a lot of the dough even if I floured then really well first. Fun too though- like playdough for grown-ups! I then shaped the dough into two loaves, and put then into bread tins for the second rise. This recipe produced a lovely moist heavy bread, like proper rye bread, which stayed fresh for a week. I also used the same recipe to make bagels. Time to get baking again I think!

Becky Matheny
10/6/2007 12:00:00 AM
Wow! These "No-Knead" recipes sounds like going to a lot of bother to avoid a little bother!I do have one no-knead recipe that works well, from an Old Betty Crocker cookbook, cira. 1961, made with an electric mixer (heavy-duty NOT required). It's called "Streamlined White Bread" and can be adapted with correct proportioning, to use whole wheat flour. The recipe can be found at my blog, Still, that bread has a slightly less fine texture, in my opinion,than kneaded bread.Maybe I'm kind of simple-minded, but for me, it's a lot easier to just use a kneaded bread recipe. Thank God for heavy-duty mixers! :)

Barb Farmer
10/6/2007 12:00:00 AM
Did the writer try Suzanne Dunaway's book "No Need To Knead"? It's wonderful. There is a focaccia recipe that is so easy & good - mix sticky dough - rest 60-90 mins - dump and stretch onto a baking sheet - voila! Looking forard to the article in M.E.News.

ALVIE Conboy
10/5/2007 12:00:00 AM
I just wanted to comment on the writer's personal notes on the "No Knead" recipe. It was written very well and gave me a good chuckle!!Thank you!

Miriam McFadden
10/5/2007 12:00:00 AM
I can't believe that my favorite magazine is so uninlightened as to continue to publish recipes with refined white flour. For those of you also uninlightened, white flour (also known as enriched flour, all purpose flour, bread flour, unbleached flour or any name other than 100% whole grain) has most of the nutrients removed and is one of the contributors to the obesity epidemic in the United States as well as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

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