No-Knead Bread, 10 Years Later

I was sitting at my desk at the Times 10 years ago when Jim Lahey – whom I knew only by reputation – emailed me: “I have a new method of making bread that requires no kneading and can give you professional results at home.”

I started baking bread in 1970, and, when my friend Charlie Van Over developed what I still believe is the best food processor method there is, I adopted that and never looked back. But Lahey’s invitation was intriguing, and, besides, Sullivan St. Bakery was a 10 minute walk from the Times. (Not, as you might imagine, on Sullivan Street, but on 47th Street.) Why the hell not?

It was a period during which the Times was experimenting with video, and I was one of the lucky guinea pigs. So on a bright November day (Jim insists it was election day 2006; I have no recollection), I walked over with two video people, we watched Jim do his thing, I wrote it up, the video people edited, and …. It became one of the most popular stories in the history of the Times.

That level of popularity was a peculiar confluence of events, but that bread recipe (which I used yesterday, and will tomorrow, barely unchanged from the original), has legs. That original description by Jim remains true, and literally millions of people now make bread according to Jim’s instructions.

A few weeks ago, just before election day 2016, I met two video people from Food & Wine at Sullivan Street (which hasn’t changed much) and we taped a reunion, with Jim commenting on and critiquing my technique (which evidently isn’t bad). You can watch (the extremely abridged version) here. As you can tell – we had fun.

Posted in Baking

23 Comments

  1. Linda said...

    Just comparing the video recipe to the original recipe printed from the NYTimes all those years ago – 10, really!?! Wow.

    Seems like there’s 1 cup more flour and more yeast too in the video?
    http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/11376-no-knead-bread

    A little confused as to what amounts to use, but assuming that being more recent the video would be better to follow?

    • baltobuy said...

      @Linda, the beauty of this recipe, is that there are large margins of error for every ingredient, with the possible exception of water, which is somewhere between 7/8ths and 9/8ths of a cup for 3 cups of flour, or just enough to incorporate all the flour into the dough without a lot of kneading. BTW, other call this “almost no-knead” bread, and knead a little when first making the dough.

  2. Marti Fernandez said...

    Any chance to see a pryinted version – my data is tight, can’t watch the video 🙁

  3. Barbara said...

    Here’s a link to the recipe on the Times website.

    http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/11376-no-knead-bread

    • scott said...

      That’s the old recipe, though. Assuming there are no typos in the video text, the ingredients here are:
      2-2/3 cup white flour
      1-1/3 cup whole wheat
      2 tsp salt
      1/2 tsp yeast
      2 cup water

      That’s a pretty significant change from the linked recipe, which has
      3 cups all-purpose or bread flour
      1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
      1-1/4 teaspoons salt
      1 5/8 cups water.

      • Sarah said...

        Thanks for posting the ingredients! I made this many times before, but it’s been a while. I just wanted to refresh on the ingredient amounts and the NYT website has a permissions data wall up now. I’d rather not give my contacts and friends’ name in exchange for the recipe.

  4. thefishposter said...

    Every time I make no-knead bread everyone thinks Im a genius. Many thanks! Also, great Jacques Pepin quip – I think I’ll use that too 🙂

  5. Sharon Berlan said...

    Make occassionially but usually a walnut/cranberry version with Whole Wheat and some RYE flour. This time did as in the new video, adding only some pumpkin seeds to “top” of the dough….did at full 500 where think i was doing 450….wonderful. I used a black Lodge cast iron vs the Le Creuset, seems to work better for the bread and its inexpensive. I keep the le Creuset for other uses.

  6. Shirlee said...

    The video is very different from the old NYT recipe — worth watching!
    2 2/3 C white flour
    1 1/3 C whole wheat flour
    2 t salt
    1/2 t yeast
    2 C water

    12 hour first rise
    fold three times on floured surface for 2-hour second rise

    Bake 30 min at 500 degrees in covered dutch oven
    Bake 15 minutes uncovered

  7. Marilyn J Taylor said...

    I’ve made this (the 10-years-later version) 4 times now. The dough is very sticky and loose (I mean very sticky) and before the second rise, I’ve had to knead in about 1 1/2 cups of flour just to give the dough enough structure that it doesn’t “rise” only horizontally. Now that I know that’s what I have to do, it’s fine – I don’t mind the kneading, and the bread is great. But I’m curious as to whether others have had the same experience with the spreading as opposed to rising when using the recipe as-is.

    • Jaye Deete said...

      Marilyn: Rather than adding extra flour, it would be better to use the folding technique shown in the video. It substitutes for the “kneading”. Use a bench knife/scraper to do the folding if it is too wet to handle. But notice that they just sprinkle a lot of flour over and under the dough, then fold with heavily floured hands. Peter Reinhart (another famous baker) also uses the folding technique as a kneading alternative.

  8. Kimberly Adkins said...

    Dear Mr. Bittman,
    Maybe I missed this in the No Knead recipe and maybe I am just a naïve owner of a enamel coated dutch oven. Either way, I am likely not very different from many of your readers. I suggest that you add additional instructions to the pre-heating part of the recipe if a dutch oven is used. I ruined by enamel coated dutch oven by heating it to the required temperature empty. Upon further investigation (after the enamel started cracking) I discovered that you should never heat enameled cast iron while empty. Would you suggest filling with water and then emptying and drying the pot before placing the dough in for baking? I also has uing stoneware. I cracked a stoneware vessel in the same manner. I haven’t tried pyrex yet. But, I’ve never used pyrex in a 450 degree oven. Help! The bread is great, but I am running out baking vessels. Sincerely,
    Kim Adkins

    • Mickey Zalusky said...

      To possibly save your baking vessels have you tried the cold oven start method? My variation is to line my cold baking vessel with parchment paper cut to fit the pot and place the turned dough in the pot for its final rise. When ready to bake, cover the pot with its lid, put it into a cold oven and set the oven temperature to 450-degrees F. Baking it uses the original no-knead bread recipe’s lid-on/lid-off timing. I haven’t yet tried the updated recipe that uses whole wheat flour using this technique but using a cold start oven eliminates the energy lost preheating the oven and hands are a bit safer not plopping dough into a scorching hot pot…and your vessel will never be in a hot oven.

      • Jaye Deete said...

        I have used Zalusky method of starting in a cold baking vessel with parchment paper cut to fit the pot with three additional differences:
        – I place the covered Dutch oven into a COLD oven.
        – I spritz the surface with water.
        – I heavily grease (Crisco, not liquid oil, not butter) the cold Dutch oven before putting the parchment paper into it. Otherwise you chisel out the loaf.
        This cold oven start may require a bit longer covered cooking time; I add 5 minutes.
        And, yes, I agree with 450-degrees F., rather than 500. This may simply be an issue with different ovens.

        I surmise that the slow warm-up of the dough gives the risen dough a bit of extra “oven spring”

  9. RG said...

    So is the first rise period in a refrigerator or just room temp? The dough after 12+ hours seems fairly small to me.

    • KBT said...

      Room temp for the 12 hour rise. The fridge only comes into play if you’re making a large amount and will only use part of the dough. It’s not a huge loaf but it’s so easy, I don’t mind mixing up a new one every couple days or so.

  10. Hans said...

    Why give quantities by volume!?! You are clearly using a scale in the video. Measurement by weight is easier, quicker, and more reliable. The US should take a cue from the rest of the world and use weight to measure ingredients.

    • KBT said...

      Here’s a copy/paste from a comment posted at the above NYT link. I’ve used this successfully and like you, prefer weights – less fuss and fewer dishes:
      In a follow-up article, Bittman’s article added the recommended weights for the ingredients.
      430 grams flour
      1 gram yeast
      8 grams salt
      345 grams water

      Bittman also noted he settled on just under a tablespoon of salt — call it 16 or 17 grams. I use 16 grams.

  11. G Koff said...

    Hi,
    I have been making this fabulous bread every week! But I’m having my glutin and wheat free daughter visiting and wondering if I can use glutin free brown rice flour and how to Amend the recipe. Does anyone have practice with this?

    Many thanks!

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