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Thursday, April 30, 2009

No-knead easy crusty bread

Homemade bread. Just looking at this picture makes my mouth water.

I love how a simple party involving yeast, flour and a sprinkle of salt can result in something so beautiful. I'm still learning my way around the potential of yeast so pulling this gorgeous loaf out of the oven did make my heart flutter just a little.

This recipe has been doing the rounds all over the internet. It's not hard to see why. The ingredients are simple, there's no kneading (yes, no kneading!) and the baking with steam method results in the most deliciously chewy and professional-looking shiny crust. Artisan-like. Well, I like to think so!

The golden chewy crust gives way to a soft but springy middle. Great big bubbles of air give lightness in a dense but fluffy bread you can actually taste. No blandness or doughiness here. It's the kind of bread you want to enjoy served only with butter. In big fat slices.

No-knead easy crusty bread

1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
6 1/2 cups (about 820g) plain flour + extra
1/4 cup polenta

In a large bowl, combine yeast and salt in 3 cups of warm water.

Add flour and stir until it is all incorporated into the dough. The dough will be very wet.

Cover bowl loosely with cling film or a tea towel and leave in a warm spot for 2-5 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.

Remove the cover from the bowl and sprinkle a handful of flour over the top. This recipe makes four loaves so cut out roughly a quarter of the dough and transfer to a lightly floured bench-top. Lightly knead the dough and Gently shape the dough into a loaf, tucking any messy bits underneath so the top is smooth and neat. You may need to add a touch more flour if the dough is too sticky to handle.

Place dough on a tray lined with polenta-covered baking paper. [Technically the dough is supposed to rise on a pizza paddle but I don't have one and transferring by hand did not work!].

Let the dough rest for 40 minutes, and either repeat this process with the remaining dough or place it in the fridge (the dough will keep for a maximum 2 weeks in an airtight container).

After 20 minutes, get your oven ready. Place a large and deep roasting tin on the bottom on your oven, and a pizza stone on the middle rack. Turn on the oven to 230C and allow to heat to the correct temperature (I use an oven thermometer to make sure the oven is really as hot as I think it is - they're invaluable and can usually be found for under $10).

Boil / microwave one cup of water.

When the oven is hot, sprinkle the top of the rested loaf with a light dusting of flour. Make three short diagonal slashes across the top of the loaf with a serrated or lightly oiled sharp knife (you don't want the knife dragging across the top).

Transfer the loaf directly onto the hot pizza stone in the oven, either by hand or by using the baking paper to help you slide it onto the stone. The loaf needs to sit directly onto the hot stone to ensure a good crust on the bottom.

Pour one cup of water into the roasting tray and then quickly shut the oven door to trap in the steam. You only need steam for the first 5-10 min of baking.

Bake the bread for about 20-30 minutes or until browned and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

Makes: 4 loaves

Store in a brown paper bag. Do not use a plastic bag or the bread will soften. It also freezes well in slices and kept in a zip-lock bag.

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Irish soda bread (no yeast)
Maple walnut bread

Easter hot cross buns 1
Easter hot cross buns 2
16 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 4/30/2009 12:10:00 am


  • At 4/30/2009 1:17 am, Blogger Prue Barrett said…

    I wanted to make bread today, but I couldn't face the ten or twenty minutes of kneading, since I still haven't a kitchen aid. This looks to have answered my prayers.

  • At 4/30/2009 9:26 am, Anonymous Howard said…

    Interesting, I'm sometimes amazed at how simple some recipes can be yet churn out pretty impressive results.

  • At 4/30/2009 9:57 am, Anonymous Steph said…

    That is so awesome that there is no kneading involved! Is there anything you can use as a substitute for the pizza stone?

  • At 4/30/2009 11:46 am, Anonymous Veruca Salt said…

    Mamma mia, just like nonna would make.

    I am mentally tapping that loaf and listening that wonderful noise real bread makes.

    How good would it be with some herbs, kalamatas and cheese mixed in?

  • At 4/30/2009 12:27 pm, Anonymous gastric stomach said…

    this recipe shouldn't be called 'no-knead', it should change to 'less-knead'. there is an obvious step in the method that says "knead the dough"

  • At 4/30/2009 1:34 pm, Blogger OohLookBel said…

    I’ve seen this around as well, but haven’t been game to try it (eek, all that flour could go to waste if it doesn’t turn out!). Glad you’ve shown us that it works. I’ll give it a go now, even with the little bit of kneading involved.

  • At 4/30/2009 2:15 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Prue - This one is super easy but it does take a little time. Hope you have fun with it - the smell in your kitchen will be divine!

    Hi Howard - Agreed. And the economist in me always does a little happy dance too :)

    Hi Steph - I haven't tried it without the stone so I'm not sure. I have seen some people suggest either using a loaf tin or using a baking tray but I'm not sure whether you will still get that crisp crust on the bottom. Give it a go and let me know how it turns out :)

    Hi Veruca Salt - Sounds great although I'm not sure whether that would affect its ability to rise? It's quite a wet dough too so maybe they'd be great on the side or in a sandwich. Yum.

    Hi Gastric Stomach - Argh, well spotted! I've changed it now. At that step you're not actually kneading the dough, just shaping it, so definitely no strenuous work required. Thanks for pointing it out though. My bad!

    Hi Belle - Oh you have eagle eyes, unless the mere mention of the word sends you retreating instantly. As stated above, I've changed the wording. It's not really kneading. No elbow grease necessary, just a gentle shaping of the dough into the loaf. Do give it a go - it freezes well too!

  • At 4/30/2009 5:01 pm, Blogger Nau said…

    I made this today and it was totally awesome, the inside was soft and fluffy and the outside had a nicely firm but not overwhelming crust. Between my boyfriend, myself and our friend we polished off the first loaf right away and I'm really glad I have more. Thanks for sharing!

  • At 4/30/2009 9:22 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    Helen - can I ask what sort of yeast you used - eg easy rise or some other sort - I find it tends to make a difference.

  • At 5/02/2009 5:54 pm, Blogger Kelly said…

    Hey Helen, just *yesterday* we bought ourselves a bread maker! (Appliances are apparently one of the options for 4th wedding aniversary gifts!) Wish I'd read this first :-) Will give it a go!

  • At 5/03/2009 9:16 pm, Anonymous Anita said…

    Fantastic looking bread - I love the holes throughout it! Must try it.

  • At 5/04/2009 1:27 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi ShethatisNAU - Great to hear it was such a success :) The bread tastes great doesn't it? Glad it went down so well!

    Hi Gourmet Chick - I use instant dried yeast. It's not rapid rise. I think this recipe is quite forgiving as long as you budget plenty of time for proving.

    Hi Kelly - lol. I'm sure you will make use of your breadmaker. I presume it has a timer? That's always handy so you can wake up to the smell of freshly baked bread!

    Hi Anita - It's a great recipe. It just needs organisation in terms of time. Happy baking!

  • At 5/05/2009 12:12 am, Anonymous Yas said…

    It's the kneading, accurate measurement, time for rise that always make me reluctant to bake. (and I've just realize these are all essential tasks for bread baking. LOL) Hmm I might give it a try with the recipe!

  • At 5/06/2009 11:38 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Yas - This recipe really is super easy. The only thing you have to factor in is time to prove, although the fact you can keep it in the fridge after you prove it is very handy too. You can do it! lol.

  • At 5/11/2009 9:03 pm, Blogger Kaydee said…

    Hey H...another reason why I should visit GYF more often. Had planned to make bread on the weekend but I couldn't face the kneading, ended up making pancakes instead!! Do you think this would work as well with wholemeal flour?

  • At 5/11/2009 9:23 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Kirsten - I'm not sure. I haven't tried this with wholemeal flour before - I wonder if you'd need a touch more water? Would certainly be interested in hearing the results if you give it a go though. Let me know :)


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