Introduction: 4-Hour No-Knead Bread.

Picture of 4-Hour No-Knead Bread.

There are many good bread Instructables already, but when making bread, you can never have too many fail-safe techniques, and this recipe works almost every time.

DOWNLOAD A FREE PDF OF THIS ARTICLE.

This is a four-hour process; you need that much time to let the dough rise. I like to throw it together while snacking on lunch, and then when I get home after school it is ready to throw in the oven.

My recipe differs from most no-knead recipes in that you do not drop it it into a heated pan. I changed the recipe because I had too many burns from handling a bread pan at 400+ degrees, and one of my Pyrex dishes shattered on me when I accidentally set the edge of it on a wet washcloth.

I hope you enjoy this tutorial and the resulting mouthwatering delicious bread.

Step 1: Materials.

Picture of Materials.

Flour:

To make good bread, you need good flour. Flour which is marked "bread flour" typically has 11-12% protein (gluten) which is higher than normal flour. This allows the loaf to have good structure and texture. You can cut cheaper white flour with bread flour if you don't have enough of either.

If you are in Germany, type 550 flour works well. Thanks t.rohner and stryke!

Yeast:
I use yeast from a Polish market. While you can buy Fleischmann's yeast from the supermarket, it is really expensive, especially in packets. If you have access to an Eastern European or Balkan market, often they sell 1lb bags of yeast for just a few dollars, a huge savings over the grocery store stuff. You need a small spoonful, the amount is not critical.

Salt:
I use sea salt, but you can use any kind of salt. Salt adds flavor and slows the growth of yeast slightly. I like to put about half a spoonful in.

Container:
You need a bake-proof container with a lid (the lid saves you from having to use foil every time and results in a more consistent crust). I got my Pyrex baking dish (visible in Step 7) at a local thrift store for just a few dollars. It is really the perfect dish for this kind of thing

Ingredients:
3 cups flour.
Some salt. (see picture 2)
Some yeast. (see picture 2)

Step 2: Putting Things Together and Mixing Them.

Picture of Putting Things Together and Mixing Them.

Pour your ingredients in a bowl. Mix the dry ingredients a bit before adding 1.5 cups warm(ish) water.

Be sure to add the water slowly - pour it in a small but steady stream. Some flours take more or less. You just want your dough to be "shaggy" -- pictured in the next step.

Step 3: Making Your Dough "Shaggy".

Picture of Making Your Dough "Shaggy".

Your dough should be this consistency or a little more damp. It's easy to add too much water -- it's better to add less, because when you let it sit for 4 hours, the water will diffuse through the loaf.

If you added too much, add more flour to get it back to "shaggy", my favorite texture.

Step 4: I Love Yeast

Picture of I Love Yeast

Cover the dough, put it in a warm place, and let the yeast rise. It's pretty amazing to watch them go.

These images cover a span of about 4 hours. You can do more, but you'll get poor results with less. Click on the second image for an animation of the dough rising.

Step 5:

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This part is critical. I have an old burnt pan that I use for just this purpose.

Put a tablespoon or so of oil on the surface.

Let the oil spread around.

Remove the dough from your mixing bowl. Mash it once as shown. Do not mash or knead it any more than once or, if you must, two times.

Roll up the flat thing you just made.

Done with this step!

Step 6: Into the Dish!

Picture of Into the Dish!

Place the dough in a Pyrex baking dish, "ugly side up". Doing this allows the dough to easily expand and makes for an interesting surface.

I like to salt my bread at this point. The surface is oily and catches the salt nicely. Be generous with the salt; you won't regret it.

Other things I like to put on top:

A dash of sugar and black pepper OR

A streak of honey (if I plan to eat it with butter/jam) OR

Basil and sun dried tomato pieces OR

A splash of garlic vinegar OR

Minced onion.

Step 7: Pre-Oven Prep

Picture of Pre-Oven Prep

Now cover the loaf in the baking pan. You have to let it "rest" in order to have it bake properly. By now, you're probably starving, but don't rush this step.

To make the wait easier, preheat your oven to around 450 degrees F.

Step 8: INTO THE DARKNESS

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Put your dough in the oven.

Pour some water on your hands for your dead yeasties.

Step 9: Baking

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Bake your bread for 30 minutes with the cover on.

Then, if you want an extra crispy, nutty, amazing crust, remove the lid and bake 5 more minutes.

Step 10: ENJOY.

Picture of ENJOY.

By now, your whole house smells of baking and you're starving. Take the loaf from the oven, remove it from the pan, and let it cool for a minute. Cut it with a bread knife or tear it open with your hands like a hungry caveman.

One of the simplest and most delicious things to eat with the finished product is a small bowl with oil, salt, and Italian spices like basil. I like to keep such a bowl in my fridge, ready for each new loaf. Dipping fresh bread in such a mixture is just outstanding eating.

I won't even go into the money you'll save baking for yourself, because if you could buy this kind of bread at the store, you wouldn't care what it cost.

Comments

dotdot53 (author)2015-12-07

wow why so long for rising! My rise 45 minutes to 1 hour and I don't use a warm oven to let rise .In my opinion longer rise does nothing for the flavor .

EMUEMU (author)dotdot532016-03-25

You are wrong.

nm8b made it! (author)2015-11-26

Can't wait to try it at dinner.

AdrianaG (author)2015-11-12

You might want to check out an even simpler variation over at jennycancook.com. She has found that you can put the dough after the initial rise directly in a cold pot in a cold oven, cover it, then turn it on to 450°. Uncover it after 30 minutes, then bake for another 30 minutes.

drmike-s (author)2015-08-01

I've used Jim Lahey's technique for a long time, but it calls for an 18 hour rise + preheating a dutch oven. It's great that you can get such a beautiful loaf after a four hour rise with no preheating.

hesma (author)drmike-s2015-11-11

I, too, have been using Jim Lahey's technique for a long time. As someone who has had trouble with gluten, his recipe makes the bread more tolerable for me. But my friends who are not gluten intolerant will love this quicker, easier method. I'm sharing it with them now!

kaseyfarley (author)2015-10-08

Made this foir the first time.. easy good and on my to do list when making bread form now on.

acrollet (author)2009-05-23

Just tried this for the first time - turned out delicious, crust was perfect! The crumb is perhaps a small bit denser than I would prefer, do you have any suggestions for making it rise a little more? I may have gotten a little too much water in the dough, perhaps that was the culprit... Used bread flour and one packet of quick-rise yeast. Thanks very much for the excellent tutorial!

jradi (author)acrollet2009-06-06

One of the best loaves I've ever made, and I've made a LOT of bread! The crust was amazing. I let the loaf rise for almost 12 hours (because I forgot about it) and it still came out wonderful.

acajjou (author)jradi2011-06-06

At what point can you let it go longer - during the "four hour rise"? Should you refrigerate at any point during a longer time period? And after the longer rise do you follow the directions the same way you would if you had only let it rise 4 hours?
(I'd like some bread for tomorrow's dinner, but it's way too late to do the entire process tonight!)

drmike-s (author)acajjou2015-08-01

You can let the dough rise for 18 hours (see Jim Lahey's book on bread baking). He uses only 1/4 tsp of yeast.

jradi (author)acajjou2011-06-06

It's a very forgiving recipe. I let the initial rise go for 12 hours, then followed through with the rest of the recipe without changing anything. Actually, that's my new routine. I mix it up in the morning before work. I come home between 8-10 hours later and do the last few steps and bake it. Beautiful dinner.

acajjou (author)jradi2011-06-06

Thanks, jradi - I'll try that tomorrow morning. :)

daniel_reetz (author)acajjou2011-06-06

I've never tested such a long rise time, so I am super glad to see this great experience/advice coming from my friend jradi. :)

Also, great shot, acrollet.

jradi (author)daniel_reetz2011-06-07

:)

You can actually go quite a while and it still tastes great. Here's pretty much the same recipe, with it rising for14-20 hours!

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/081mrex.html

acajjou (author)jradi2011-06-09

It worked perfectly and tasted the same as when I've done it with just 4 hours. I think I have a new bread baking routine in the works!

daniel_reetz (author)jradi2009-06-06

w00t! Great news! And interesting, it seems from your comments and others that you can leave this stuff overnight and still get great results. Awesome.

acrollet (author)acrollet2009-05-23

Forgot to mention - I used a crockpot insert w/ pyrex lid, and it worked great. Used an oven thermometer to make sure I was baking at 450. (had to turn the dial a little over 475)

daniel_reetz (author)acrollet2009-06-06

Thanks! Actually, just today I tried calibrating my oven -- the knob is off by ten degrees. I don't have a good suggestion for getting the crumb to be less dense... have you had any luck since?

acrollet (author)daniel_reetz2009-06-07

I have had some success actually - just last night I re-tried the recipe with these ingredients: 3 cups bread flour 1 tsp. yeast 1.5 tsp salt 1.5 cups water with 1 tsp apple cider vinegar mixed in I stirred a bit longer at the beginning to develop the gluten some more, but otherwise followed your recipe to the letter. I was very happy with the result, the crumb has the airier, springier texture that I really like. Added bonus: it's still fresh and good right now, 24 hrs after I took it out of the oven. Here's a pic:

daniel_reetz (author)acrollet2009-06-07

Very interesting! I'm going to try that right now. Thanks!

acrollet (author)daniel_reetz2009-06-07

great!! I'll be really curious to hear how it turns out for you, be sure to post :)

daniel_reetz (author)acrollet2009-06-08

I screwed it up by forgetting it in the oven too long. :O I'll have to try it again. :)

WoundedEgo made it! (author)2015-01-27

It came out light and fluffy on the inside with a delightfully crunchy turtle shell exterior. Perfect!

I made it in my Rompfertof cloche, pictured.

1956rjeh (author)WoundedEgo2015-07-23

Dear WoundedEgo,

Can you share some other recipes for the Rompertof clay cookers? I have two of them and I never know what to use them for. The only thing I've done so far is a whole chicken.

Peoplefood (author)WoundedEgo2015-02-03

I thought you had to slowly warm up the Roemertopf. You put it in the 450 degree oven and it survived? Did you soak it first?

I am tickled pink to see there is another Roemertopf fan out there.

wei.ting.963 (author)2015-03-18

Hi, I've just done NYT dough n waiting for proofing n chance upon yours. May I know what is the difference difference between yours and NYT That shortened your proofing time to only 4hr? The smashing part? Thank you.

imdehaas (author)2015-02-24

This is amazing! I just finished it. Super simple, but don't let that fool you, the flavor is amazing.

WoundedEgo (author)2015-01-27

New or old doesn't matter. a drop of liquid on it at high temp and it breaks, whether it is glass or stone. Don't let juices overflow above glass or stone!

anna.scott.100 (author)2015-01-16

I have been making this bread about twice a week since our bread machine bit the dust. It's so good and so easy that I think I may just not bother buying a new machine. Great instructable, thank you.

rocky.metamorphic (author)2014-11-12

Thank you for this. It looks good, I'll try it.
The bonus for me? Of all things, the picture with the old Presto timer, c. 1968???
I have one in excellent condition and I use it all the time. I love that thing!

Indestructibility Man (author)2014-11-10

First time making bread went ok I think

Poogle (author)2014-05-06

Just made this today with Five Roses all-purpose flour (Montreal pride!) to feed my band at practice.

Worked a charm. Very pleasant simple bread. I wanted to put salty things on it because it had a very clean plain taste to it- upon rereading I see that you recommended adding salt on top, and I think I'd do that next time.

as for this Instructable I love how free you are with the measurements of yeast, salt and water. It brought me into it.

mazmal (author)2014-03-15

Thank you. I made this today. My very first bread making experience.

anjchang (author)2014-02-27

This recipe is way easier than the easy New York Times No-Knead recipe. My dough was a little mushy so I added some oatmeal and more flour. It came out awesome. Thanks for figuring out how to avoid preheating the pot. ;)

rizzirizzirizzi (author)2013-04-30

Hi,
Wow, It's been awhile for this post, but I just found it.  I'm waiting to put the dough in the oven.  My dough doesn't look as firm as yours but we'll see what comes out. 

Also,  clean browned pyrex with a baking soda paste.  I like to buy vintage pyrex  at flea markets and antique stores.  Does the trick.  Thanks for the recipe. 

El chupacabras (author)2013-03-28

Nice recipe =) I'm going to try it as soon as I can. Thanks for sharing.

nadialtbr (author)2012-11-25

I tried it today!!! tastes great. I had a hard time with the "shaggy" consistency, I wanted to knead it so bad :)

I'll def. try again. Thank you for posting.

Ladyflyer (author)2012-11-04

I love this simple bread. Change it up with herbs and olive oil, or honey, cinnamon. Great easy recipe.

narf7 (author)2012-09-05

WOW! What a generous instructable this is along with a wonderful free PDF. I can't begin to thank you enough for your wonderful generosity. I wish there were more people like you here :). Cheers for making my day

khombi (author)2012-07-13

Good recipe.made two loafs, 1 white 1 w,meal. White loaf was excelent w,meal was a disaster ,any susgestions, Chris

daniel_reetz (author)khombi2012-07-16

You'll probably need to use a smaller amount of meal and increase the rise time substantially (probably double it). It can be done but you need the gluten to develop more.

khombi (author)daniel_reetz2012-07-17

Thank you, was wondering how long can you store w/meal flour,does it go off after a period of time,i store mine in a large plastic tub with a lid, i have noticed that the last time i used it ,it had a strong sour smell and it did not rise very well at all. i have had this w/meal flour now for at least 6 mths in this container regards Chris.....

khombi (author)2012-07-13

excelent recipe.first loaf turned out as good as a store bought loaf. Tried out wholemeal, half white ,half w,meal but it was a disaster, would not rise .any one know why !.not the first time this has happened to me even when i use the normal method of two rises and using a proper bread tin.Help please .Chris

khombi (author)2012-07-13

Wonderful way to make your own bread, will definately try the water in the oven to help it rise.The first loaf turned out better than store bought bread, the wife loved it and so did i.We ate the lot in one meal.Chris

xfirexstarzx (author)2012-07-01

I tried your recipe today. I gave it a shot in my dutch oven. I think that I added too much water (still only about 1 1/3 c.) because the loaf kept wanting to spread out instead of rising up. I also misted a little bit of water on it before I baked it. The crust was really nice and had some nice little bubbles in it. It tasted alright. I didn't add enough salt though. I don't usually use salt when I'm cooking, so I only added a little bit. My housemates loved it, so it wasn't a complete failure. I think it'll take a little toying with, but I'm sure this has potential.

I forgot to take a picture of the first loaf, but I mixed up another batch of dough and threw it in the fridge for tomorrow. I made sure to leave it a little drier for the second go. I also added more salt. I'll post back when the second loaf comes out of the oven. Hopefully I can get a picture before my housemates polish it off. Thanks for the recipe!

I finished my second loaf today. This one turned out much better. I covered it with parmesan cheese and basil. I ended up slicing it while it was still hot, so you can't really see the crumb, but it tasted really good and had a decent texture. The second picture shows where I squished it when I cut it. I swear it was smooth before!

Just a note for anyone on a time crunch: preheat your oven to 200 degrees F and boil a couple quarts of water. Put the water in an oven safe pan and put it in the oven. Turn off the oven and put in your dough to rise. It should rise in about an hour to an hour and a half.

Beautifully done! Thanks for sharing back your results.

valkgurl (author)2012-05-27

The best pot I have found for these is the Le Crueset round (oval would work I just don't have one---sob!) . These are very spendy new but I have found them at tag sales and please do not forget ebay is still a viable option for cheap used stuff. (Shameless plug for ebay!) I mean to try a plain old well seasoned cast iron skillet too just haven't gotten around to it!

You can--and in the Bittman recipe he claims you must---pre-heat the pot to a staggering surface of the sun temp--BE CAREFUL.

This "solves" some of the outer crust soggy factor that some of us in humid areas find to be off-putting.

Another solution to the too-soggy flour--from local humidity--is to very gently DRY out the flour in advance. Now you will need some extra time -- a few minutes---unless you have a pilot light but it should only take a few minutes. Pour your flour into a pan with sides---a metal rectangular pan with 1 1/2" to 2" sides will work--and place in the lowest oven temp you have. Stir around a few times and after a few mins this should remove most of the moisture that got in there thru shipping and storage. If the flour starts to brown that is OK you will get a nice toasted flavor!

There are old fashioned flour bins out there that have a small "knob" looking dealie that has some sort of crystals in it. This is a device to ABSORB extra humidity and then you bake the knob for a few minutes to dry THAT out! I had one of these built into a very old (1940's) gas stove and used it for flour, cereal, chips etc. Worked wonders. I MISS that stove.

The best way to ensure that your flour stays dry is to transfer it---either in the bag or out---to an air tight container ASAP. And use it fast! Don't buy too much more than you are going to use in a fairly rapid time period. And freeze it if you are really in the tropics. Just taste it before you use it to make sure it did not pick up any freezer taste. Mason jars are great for this.

For covering over a proofing loaf if you don't use plastic---you can use a variation of the banneton fabric covering. Use a linen or cotton fabric (tea towels work well) and put some flour in a bowl. Work the flour INTO the fabric of the towel and then get as much as you can to stick to the cloth as you place it over the dough. You can also use a plate that can span the bowl you are proofing in---if you use a glass plate you can watch!

The VERMONT COUNTRY STORE sells several versions of an old fashioned BOWL COVER that is re-useable and has elastic edges. Great for leftovers and proofing--I think they have it in clear and decorative designs. Will be a bit more pouffy on top if your bowl is smaller than the full size cover but that should be OK. You will find lots of uses for these! They cover most sizes of bowls and plates and pans you probably have in your kitchen and eliminate the need for most cling wrap. Come to think of it you could prob use a piece cut off of an old "oil cloth" type table cloth or placemat--if the dough sticks just scrape it off and plop it back into the bowl!

DO NOT use re-cycled plastic wrappers for this type of use! The ink etc can come off due to moisture and get in your food!

speerclan (author)2012-04-12

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this recipe! I have always been afraid of baking anything with yeast. I had never tried it until this bread. I started it this morning and we are just now finishing it off. WOWZA! It was so good. The instructions were perfect and I am just beside myself with excitement. I can't wait to make another and another and another. My butt and thighs will never be the same. HA!

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