The Best No-Knead Bread Recipe, Ever!

The Best No-Knead Bread Recipe, Ever!

There's nothing better than the smell and taste of freshly baked bread. But if you're anything like me, your attempts at perfecting a home-made loaf often result in your kitchen looking like a flour bomb has gone off! Not to mention, bread making is seriously time consuming and labour intensive - there's the mixing, the kneading, the rising, the kneading, the rising, the kneading.....well you get my point!

So suffice to say, I was sceptical when I stumbled upon a recipe which claims to be the best and easiest bread you'll ever make at home and it requires absolutely NO-KNEADING and no fancy machines or gadgets - so simple in fact, a four-year old can make it! Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, that's what I thought until I put it to the test.  It has since become my go-to recipe for whenever I'm craving some fresh-baked bread.

This recipe produces a rustic looking loaf with a crackling crust and perfectly fluffy, chewy inside.  I swear this bread is just as good, if not better than the in-house bread served in top restaurants. Serve this to your dinner party guests and they will assume it's a gourmet bakery loaf - I promise!

 Fresh out of the oven.

Fresh out of the oven.

The original recipe by Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery was made famous when journalist Mark Bittman published it in the New York Times. Bittman later went on to modify the recipe to make it an even speedier process, condensing the resting time to five hours.  But, I've stuck with the original recipe - it takes literally a minute to mix the dough in the afternoon/evening and then the resting is done overnight. Come morning, you've got a beautiful dough which is ready to bake.

It's a very simple water, flour, yeast, salt, recipe which results in a very wet dough.  The difference between this recipe and a traditional bread recipe that requires kneading is the small amount of yeast, long fermentation/resting time and in how it is baked - inside a dutch oven in your oven.  If you don't have a dutch oven, improvise with a big stock pot with oven safe handle and lid.

Once you've mastered the basic recipe, why not try experimenting by adding some chopped olives, herbs, garlic, fetta or other ingredients that take your fancy - the combinations are endless!  Simply add to the dough before folding over itself.  Be sure to serve bread topped with lashings of good quality/organic butter or dip into extra virgin olive oil with a dash of balsamic vinegar.  Enjoy!

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NO-KNEAD BREAD RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups plain/all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups water

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast and salt. Add water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferable about 18, at warm room temperature.
  2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Sprinkle top with flour.
  3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball.  Generously coat a cotton towel with flour; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour.  Cover with another 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°F  (230°C).  Put a large heavy covered pot (dutch oven, cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven.  Slide your hand under dough and put into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is OK.  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.
 Dough dotted with bubbles

Dough dotted with bubbles

 Sticky dough mixture

Sticky dough mixture

 Fold dough over on itself

Fold dough over on itself

Have you tried the famous no-knead bread recipe?  Let us know in the comments below!

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