Introduction: 100% Whole Wheat Crusty No Knead Artisan Bread

Picture of 100% Whole Wheat Crusty No Knead Artisan Bread

Here is a fool proof 100% Whole Wheat Bread Recipe that is very easy to do.  It does require planning ahead, but once you figure that out, you will make bread all the time!  

I calculated the cost for making this bread using high quality ingredients and total cost is $1.81 per loaf, much cheaper than what you pay at the market. 

The day before you want to make bread, you will mix the ingredients to allow for 18-24 hours fermentation time.

Step 1: Equipment and Ingredients Needed

Picture of Equipment and Ingredients Needed


Whole wheat flour
Vital wheat gluten

Equipment needed:

5 quart bowl or container
Baking stone or tiles
Metal broiler pan
Parchment paper
Dish towels
Cookie sheet

Step 2: Measure Dry Ingredients

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Weigh all of your ingredients:  

I listed the ingredients as weighed in grams, ounces and measured in cups.  If you do not have a scale, you can measure the flour using a one cup measuring cup and scooping the flour into the cup with a spoon.  Level off the top of the measuring cup with a knife and don't compact it.

Whole Wheat Flour 910 grams (32 ounces or 7.5 cups)
Vital wheat gluten 35 grams (1 1/4 ounces or 1/4 cup)
Yeast 5 grams (1 teaspoon)
Salt 20-25 grams (1 1/2 tablespoons)
Water, tap or filtered 850 grams (4 cups)

I keep my ingredients in the fridge, so I start out with cold ingredients. Warmer ingredients cuts your fermenting time a little.

Step 3: Mix Dry Ingredients

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With a whisk or spoon, mix dry ingredients well. 

Step 4: Stir in Water

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Add the water slowly or all at once.  Mix with spoon or spatula.  Continue mixing until there are no longer dry spots.  If after a few minutes you have flour that is not incorporating, add one or two tablespoons of water.  You shouldn't need more than 2-3 tablespoons. 

Step 5: Rest the Dough

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Cover and allow the dough to rest 18-24 hours at room temperature.  The dough should double in size. 

I have also found that I can simply refrigerate the dough at this point.   Refrigerating makes it easier to handle and gives better flavor.  

Step 6: Doubled in Size

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The dough should look something like this.  Flattened at the top and full of bubbles. 

If you cannot bake the bread at this point, you can refrigerate it, covered for up to 7 days. 

If you refrigerate it, the day of baking, you will need to shape and let your bread raise 2 hours prior to baking.

Step 7: Divide and Shape Dough

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Place the baking stone or tiles in the middle of the oven. 

Place the broiler pan below the baking stone/tiles. You will add hot water to create steam for the bread.   If you don't want crusty bread, you can skip this step.

Thirty minutes before you are ready to bake the bread, turn on your oven to 450 degrees.  You can use your oven thermometer to make sure the temperature is reached (some ovens don't reach proper temperature). 

Flour your surface well where you will divide your dough. 

Flip your cookie sheet upside down.  Place the parchment paper on the cookie sheet.  Dust the parchment paper with flour or cornmeal. 

Pour and scrape out your dough to your floured surface.  You don't want to overhandle your dough at this point. 

With a knife, cut the dough in half.  Wetting the blade of the knife prevents the dough from sticking. 

Take each dough half and fold it over itself two or three times to make a square, like you are folding a towel on itself.  Remember minimize handling.  Place the dough on the floured parchment paper. (This should take 1-2 minutes)

Use some dishtowels to give the bread a boundary and prevent it from spreading sideways. 

Allow to rise for 30 minutes (2-3 hours if using refrigerated dough) while your oven preheats. 

Step 8: Slash and Bake

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Set aside a cup of hot tap water.

After the dough has risen, take a wet knife, and in one motion, make a 1/4 inch slash on the dough.  

Remove the dishtowels, open the oven door and slide your bread into the oven, parchment paper and all. 

Pour the water into the broiler tray. Close the oven door.  Bake for 30 minutes.  When 30 minutes complete, turn down the temperature to 350 and bake 30  more minutes. 

Step 9: Cool and Store.

Picture of Cool and Store.

Remove from oven. Place on a rack and cool.  If you cut when warm, it will be slightly sticky and difficult to cut. 

I store my bread in the fridge in plastic zip lock.  I freeze my unused bread and defrost when my first loaf is almost gone.


Do I have to use warm water to activate the yeast?
No.  Using cool water allows for a slower fermentation and better flavor.


claudiaivonnefranco (author)2017-01-18

One teaspoon is sufficient unless you are doing a quick (2-3 hour) fermentation (rise). A long and slow fermentation yields less "yeasty tasting" bread.

Thank you for your quick response.this is my first attempt at no knead bread making. Can't wait to bake it tomorrow.

lexie618 (author)2017-01-18

I just mixed this bread dough and set aside to rise. But, after looking again at the recipe, I'm questioning whether the yeast amount indicated in the recipe is correct. It says 1 teaspoon. Is that correct or should it be 1 TBLS.?

One teaspoon is enough.

MonicaM86 (author)2016-06-05

I made it to try out an alternative to all purpose flour. It is absolutely delish and so much bread that I had to share and was very well received.

claudiaivonnefranco (author)2016-03-03

The wetter breads (no knead) tend to spread out instead of rise. I get the best results if I use a bread pan for tall bread.

claudiaivonnefranco (author)2016-03-03

The wetter breads tend to spread out instead of rise. I get the best results

jfromflorida (author)2016-03-03

Hi, I am sorry to bother but you mentioned that whole wheat flour requires a bit more gluten. How much more? I have use the amount stated in your instructions, but my bred does not go very high. Also, my crust is a bit hard is that normal?


RachelD41 (author)2016-01-17

I notice that this recipe makes several loaves. I don't have much storage space so am looking to make only one small loaf. Do you have any recommendations for how to cut the recipe in half? Thanks!!

equayona (author)2015-12-20

My first attempt at bread in 35 years and it turned out great! Thanks.

claudiaivonnefranco (author)2015-04-24

I apologize, I was on vacation. It sounds like your dough was not wet enough. Home ground wheat acts differently than store-bought. I don't have any experience with home ground wheat. But I do know that the changes the water and yeast amounts needed.

shankaranarayan made it! (author)2015-04-15

I made one bread with half the recipe. Used 100% home ground whole wheat, pure wheat gluten and DCL Active dried yeast and followed the recipe. Pictures of result attached. By the time I mixed the dry ingredients to incorporate all the water, it turned into a ball and not a loose mass as shown in your pictures. After 24 hrs, it looked like pic 1. It was not 100% porus or full of holes. The top was still dense though expanded. When I scraped it onto the parchment paper, the bottom part of the ball was very porous. Obviously the entire dough had not risen fully. When I folded it, the dense mass got in between. The slash I made was too deep. After baking for 30 mins at 240C and 30 mins at 180C, I had a bread with a hard crust (pic2) and dense inside (pic 3). The bread was not fully cooked thru. The bottom was soft and no hollow sound when tapped.

My questions:

Did I overmix the dry ingredients? I'll try again.

Should I proof the yeast (add water at blood heat, pinch of sugar) to bubbling and then add it to the dry ingredients?

Any other ideas of what I did wrong? Or should I adjust the recipe?

LizG3 (author)2015-04-06

I have tried a couple different recipes now and am ready for a win! I am going to try to wheat gluten however, I am using home ground wheat flour. We bought the hard red winter wheat berries. Do you have any additional recommendations?

Good luck! Making 100% whole wheat will always result in a denser bread than white. Sometimes adding some white flour yields a lighter result. Also adding orange juice or honey helps. I insist on 100% whole wheat and wish I had the luxury of grinding my own flour. Winter wheat berries also have a stronger flavor than white berries. In my endeavors, I found making rolls of 100% wheat is much easier and the dough is not as "wet" as the large boules. Happy baking.

I will try those recommendations. Thank you so much!

shankaranarayan (author)2015-04-01

I'm in Pune, India. I tried this recipe with whole wheat flour and locally available Tower Gluten. The dough after resting was very watery and started to flow all over the table when I poured it out. Couldn't manage to form it into a shape. Had to put it in a mould and bake it. How can I fix this problem? Reducing the qty of water?

Awaiting your advice.

Hi! I'm sorry your bread did not result! The mixed dough should be sticky but not like cake batter. When you add the water, there should still be a few dry spots you will have to stir in. The best results come if you weigh your ingredients instead of using measuring cups. Are you certain about your measurements? Did you weigh or measure? Was it runny from the beginning? Or after rising? Sounds like maybe there was too much water in your dough. The dough will spread a bit but not that much. Let me know. Good luck.

claudiaivonnefranco (author)2015-02-19

Bclog thanks for taking your time to write. I have tried wild yeast but have not been recently successful. Plus the bread gets moldy if not frozen.

bclog (author)2015-02-13

Thanks so much for this recipe! I mill my own flour and usually bake sourdoughs (wild yeast), but I was looking for a quick and easy commercial yeast bread to make when I just can't deal. The first time I divided the recipe in half but followed it precisely, except for adding a pinch of vitamin C crystals to help neutralize some of the anti-nutrients. It also helps keep the bread fresh. :) It was almost as good as my Tuscan bread and about a quarter of the work.

This week, I made another half-recipe, still with the pinch of vitamin C, but I substituted 100g of whole rye for whole wheat, and the last 55g with a combination of white popcorn and farro (emmer) (equivalent in the full recipe of 200g rye and 110g corn and farro). I also rounded up the VWG and water a smidge (a few grams) to compensate. I left it sit out a little too long (unexpected interference) but it held its rise, and rose after shaping. Instead of flouring, I used yellow cornmeal on the board. Being so distracted, I forgot to slash, which made it a bit tight. Even so, it's really delicious.

I am impressed with how flexible your recipe is, and it will definately be a standard in my home for everyday bread. Thanks so much!

nemethb (author)2015-01-14

Is vital Wheat gluten and essential ingredient? do not have it, would it make a difference?


It's crucial if you want to make whole wheat bread. You don't need it if your are going to make white bread.

timbaylus (author)2014-11-26

I have about 6 hours left on the rise and it has almost doubled. However, the top layer of dough has dried out. Is this normal? Should I fold it into the dough, or remove it before turning the dough out? Thanks in advance!

You can do either. You could also spritz it with a water bottle. And cover it with oiled Saran Wrap til it softens. Was it covered?

Just with a towel, which is what I normally use when making bread that is oiled. I went back through your pictures and see you used a plastic bag. That may have been the issue. Thanks for the tip!

david robertson (author)2014-11-11

GinnyinWI made it! (author)2014-11-08

Worked out great!

it looks awesome! Thank you for sharing!

waite02 (author)2014-07-21

At the end you say you refrigerate it. How long do you refrigerate it to increase the flavor? Also... what's the crumb like on this. I've been making No-Knead bread with commercial flour successfully but have just decided to delve into milling my own flour. Thanks!

I refrigerate the dough overnight for about 8 hours. The longer I leave it, the more flavor it develops. The crumb is hard if you bake it with steam. Hard and crunchy.

JannieB (author)2013-10-17

Hi. I have a few questions. Like another user not sold on her ability to make bread, I'm always a little nervous but want to make this bread. First question: Can I make 2 loaves at once (I would make 2 batches), and can I add cranberries (dried cranberries, I think?) to this recipe? If so, at what stage do I add them? I went and offered a bread with cranberries as my contribution for Thanksgiving, but I haven't been able to find a recipe. Oh, and can I make an Italian shaped loaf? Thanks.

Hi! Mix in the cranberries after you have mixed in the water.
This size batch makes two loaves of bread already. No kneading means more water, which means the bread spreads sideways. You'll have better luck putting it in a loaf pan. Let me know if you have any more questions. I'll be happy to help. Are you making white or wheat bread?

Thanks so much for your reply! I may be bringing something else because they loved what I brought last year, but I will definitely be making that bread for myself (with or without the cranberries). I'd like to also bring something unexpected, so it could be that bread with cranberries, or maybe just with herbs, or my almost see-through thin rosemary flatbread that the hosts have had before and raved about. I would have put the bread in a loaf pan anyway because I prefer that shape... but would love to find a French or Italian style pan. I learned a lot from your reply... thanks again!

AllNaturalMama (author)2013-03-05

I was wondering if you would want to use the broiler pan with this recipe if you were using the loaf pans instead of using the stones? Would it still create the crusty bread using the pans?

Hi! The broiler pan and steam are needed to make the bread crusty, regardless if you use pans or stones. It's the steam that makes the crust. Thanks for looking!

JannieB (author)2012-09-11

I don't know if anyone will see this, but here goes. I think it's possible I am just hopeless when it comes to making bread. The dough rose in the bowl the way it looked in the picture. I put corn meal on the parchment paper and rolled up kitchen towels, but apparently not enough corn meal, or at least I'm hoping that was the reason for this failure. The bread was delicious, but it was so soft, I think it spread out to where there was no corn meal on the paper. It clearly stuck to the paper in it's pre-baked state, thus making the whole towel thing useless. Could it be there just wasn't enough corn meal? I also think I will use flour next time... and there WILL be a next time. Again, hoping it's the step of rising while the over pre-heats

Don't despair! It sounds like your bread was too wet. Without bread making experience, it is hard to judge if your bread is too wet since it is difficult to measure flour with measuring cups. The pros weigh out their ingredients. I suggest you make it in a bread pan lined with parchment paper next time and you will get a perfect loaf! I get the dough in loaf shape and roll the bottom and sides in cornmeal. Bread dough is like glue! Please ask me any other questions you encounter! If I learned on my own, you can too!

I have another question. I'm going to go with 2 standard bread pans as I said in my other reply. But I also want to eventually make a whole wheat Italian loaf. I'm considering purchasing a clay 13" x 4" Italian loaf pan. Do you think half this recipe would work with that pan? I know the whole recipe would be too much. Or do I need to guesstimate and use more than half, and figure out what to do with what's left over? Maybe what's left if I use more than half would be could for a mini loaf pan.

I think half the recipe would work for that pan. I am not sure what your intention is with the clay loaf pan? My impression of using a clay pan is that it is no different than a metal pan, unless you go through the trouble of preheating the pan then plopping the risen dough into the hot pan (like the stone). Are you trying to make a loaf or a baguette style italian bread? I'd like to hear your experience after you make your bread! Thanks!

I was just considering those pans, but went with the old fashioned metal pans. I just plopped the dough with parchment paper into the pans just before putting them in the oven. I did 2 things differently when preparing the dough this time: one was that I didn't add the water all at once, and the other was that I just used the flour scoop to put flour into the measuring cup instead of spooning it in. It was basically just one scoop... which I leveled off with an offset spatula. I found keeping count a little tricky, so who knows, maybe last time I was short a cup of flour. The difference was immediately apparent. I do want to try using the same recipe for an Italian or French loaf and will get those pans. And I'll try it sometime using some herbs. I think a rosemary French loaf would be delicious!

Looks awesome! Great job! We all forget sometimes, I've forgotten the salt and still managed to eat!

Thank you so much... there's apparently hope for me yet. I was bent on using the stone. I didn't know what the consistency of the dough should be, but I thought it might be too wet. I will definitely try as you suggested, but before I do that, I may give using the stone one more try. Maybe it's time to invest in a scale... or just figure out if I should add more flour, or less water. My bread was still good... just too wide, thus not as high as it should be. Forging on! Thanks again!!

How did it go? Any improvement? Just remember that the reason for the extra water in no knead bread is needed for allowing the gluten fibers to align themselves (and eliminate kneading), but extra water also makes the dough want to spread sideways instead of up. I gave up the baking stone in exchange for the pans for ease and to make be able to make sandwiches. I still get a crusty bread, by using the steam method. The romance of the baking stone outweighs the practicality in my life right now :)

Well... I did it! I baked the loaves in bread pans and it looks great! But I did make one stupid mistake... I FORGOT TO PUT THE SLICES IN THE DOUGH BEFORE I PUT THEM IN THE OVEN!! grrrr I get so mad at myself when I do things like that. It seem to rise perfectly, but because of that, I guess the shape is a bit odd. Now let's see if I've successfully uploaded a photo.

I'm receiving your message loud and clear. I didn't get around to making bread this past weekend. But your latest reply has convinced me to use bread pans, and that I can still get a crusty whole wheat bread and still not have to knead. Maybe I'll just save the baking stone for pizza, which is really why I got it in the first place. But I'm all for whatever makes things simple, as long as the taste and quality is there in the end. Now I know I will make bread next weekend, and doing it in the bread pans will make for easier slicing too. Thanks again!

DanYHKim (author)2012-05-24

During the Fall and early Winter, I make my dough in a large stock pot, and store it with the lid on out on our porch. Keep it out of the sun, and it will live there pretty happily for a few days until I bake it.

DanYHKim (author)2012-05-24

Safety note: When adding water to the broiler tray of the oven, be careful of the giant cloud of hot steam that will shoot out. If you're standing right in front of the oven, you will be hit right in the face.

Also, the tray may suddenly warp with the addition of cold water on the hot metal. It springs right back, but the sound is alarming. Just be aware that it will happen.

claudiaivonnefranco (author)2012-03-28

I sometimes bake it in loaf pans and don't use the tiles.

I thought of using pans, but really wanted that whole loaf look.
But what about the lack of the bread rising? It didn't rise a bit.
and when it cooked, it just spread out like one gigantic cow pie.

Like I said previously, you need EXTRA gluten to help whole wheat flour rise. Also make sure your yeast is fresh. If your bread spread out, it had too much water.

frankierozelle (author)2012-03-28

I followed all steps according to recipe and all my stages looked identical to the photos, until the rising process. It did not rise one bit.
I grind my own whole wheat, and did not have gluten on hand, so maybe I should have used more yeast? Also, I don't have baking stones or tiles. But I don't see how that would affect the baking process that much.
thank you.

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