When you make this Easy No-Knead Artisan Bread, time does all the hard work for you. This foolproof recipe will teach you how to make bakery-style bread (without the industrial-grade equipment, of course.)
This simple, delicious bread recipe requires minimal effort but produces a crusty, flavorful, and-- maybe most importantly-- forgiving loaf that even a beginner can master on their first try.
- A Beginner-Friendly Loaf with Pro-Level Flavor and Texture
- Why No-Knead Bread?
- Why You'll Love This Recipe
- About the Ingredients
- Shop This Post
- How to Make Easy No-Knead Artisan Bread
- Why Use a Dutch Oven for Baking Bread? (And What if You Don't Have One?)
- More FAQs
A BEGINNER-FRIENDLY LOAF WITH PRO-LEVEL FLAVOR AND TEXTURE
I used to think that you needed to be a professional, or at least be an exceptionally talented home cook in order to bake a good loaf of bread, but as it turns out, that’s so far from the truth.
I've experimented with all sorts of bread recipes, from Homemade Pita Bread to Fluffy Dinner Rolls with Honey Butter Glaze to Homemade White Bread (and everything in-between), and what I've found is that you don’t need stand mixers or industrial ovens-- or even very much bread baking knowledge at all to make a good dough.
In fact you really just need 4 ingredients and an oven, and you’ll wind up with something pretty great. But the question is, how great can you make it while keeping the process as simple as possible?
I’ve been trying for a while now to find a bread recipe that gives you the most bang for your buck-- and by your buck I mean time-and-effort. One that would allow a person who has never baked a loaf in their life to jump into the kitchen right now and make something genuinely impressive. And I think I’ve found the perfect balance. It’s this loaf, right here.
If you’re an experienced bread baker, you’ve probably heard of Jim Lahey’s no-knead method, and we’re going to be adapting that recipe today to make what I think is the absolute chef’s kiss of low-effort but high-quality bread. We’re talking a crackly browned crust and chewy open crumb, with no kneading, and less than a half hour of active hands-on-work. Start the dough the night before baking day, and the bulk of the work will be done overnight while you sleep!
WHY NO-KNEAD BREAD?
Bread baking can be intimidating for many home cooks. From proofing to shaping to baking, there are a lot of variables that can affect the outcome of your loaf. The most daunting of which seems to be kneading, which not only requires a lot of physical effort, but also seems to innately intimidate new bakers. Luckily, no-knead bread exists, which makes the process much more accessible, and as an added bonus, it might just offer up a better loaf.
No-knead breads are exactly what they sound like-- breads that require no kneading. This method was popularized by Jim Lahey, the owner of Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City. Lahey's version of no-knead bread was published in the New York Times in 2006 and quickly became a sensation. His recipe called for a long fermentation period and a high-humidity, high-heat baking environment to produce a crusty, chewy loaf with an open crumb.
The secret to no-knead breads is time. Instead of kneading the dough to develop gluten, you let the dough sit for an extended period, anywhere from 8 to 24 hours. During this time, enzymes in the flour break down the starches into simple sugars, which the yeast then feeds on, producing carbon dioxide gas. This gas gets trapped in the gluten network, causing the dough to rise and develop structure.
The long fermentation time also allows the bread to develop complex flavors. As the dough sits, the yeast produces flavorful compounds like acetic acid and lactic acid, which give the bread a tangy, sour flavor. Think of your dough like a good cheese or fine wine-- it just gets better with age. (Well, to a degree of course.)
So for arguably less effort and more flavor, I'm happy to invest the extra (hands-off) time.
WHY YOU'LL LOVE THIS RECIPE
I could go on and on about all of the reasons I love this no-knead bread (and let's be honest, I will throughout this post). But as far as an overview goes? The reasons you'll love this overnight bread are as simple as the recipe:
- NO KNEADING NECESSARY. This easy bread recipe requires no kneading, making it incredibly easy for anyone to make bread from scratch.
- SIMPLE INGREDIENTS. Grocery store breads can easy have 30+ ingredients, but this bread requires just 4, making it easier to know what you're ingesting (and of course, easy to make, too.)
- BAKERY-STYLE LOAF. The resulting bread is rustic, hearty, and delicious, with a crispy crust and a soft and chewy interior.
ABOUT THE INGREDIENTS
This easy no-knead bread requires just 4 ingredients. But making sure you have the right ones is important!
- Bread flour: Bread flour has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour, which helps to create a chewy texture in the bread.
- Kosher salt: Salt not only enhances the flavor of the bread, but it also helps to regulate the fermentation process.
- Instant yeast: Instant yeast is a type of yeast that does not require activation before use. It helps to leaven the bread and create a light and airy texture.
- Water: Water is necessary to hydrate the flour and activate the yeast.
HOW TO MAKE EASY NO-KNEAD ARTISAN BREAD
Each step is easy in making this homemade artisan bread, but be sure to follow the directions for the best results!
- MIX THE DOUGH. Combine the flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl, and then add room temperature water. Mix until a shaggy dough forms, and then cover and let rise overnight.
- STRETCH AND FOLD. In the morning, stretch and fold the dough over around the bowl to create a tighter dough ball. Cover and let rise again for 1-2 hours.
- SHAPE THE DOUGH. Transfer the dough to a floured surface, and fold the sides of the dough inward. Bring the edges of the dough in to the center and pinch to seal. Then flip the dough over (so it's seam-side down) and turn the dough, smoothing down the sides.
- PREHEAT THE OVEN AND DUTCH OVEN. Transfer your dough to a sheet of parchment paper and cover while the oven preheats. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees with your dutch oven in there (with the lid on). This will help build up heat in the pot.
- BAKE. Carefully remove the preheated Dutch oven, and use the parchment paper to gently drop the dough into the pot. Cover with the lid and return to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for 30 minutes more. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool fully.
WHY USE A DUTCH OVEN FOR BAKING BREAD? (AND WHAT IF YOU DON'T HAVE ONE?
One of the key reasons to use a Dutch oven when baking no-knead bread is to create an environment that mimics a professional steam-injected bread oven. When the dough is placed in the Dutch oven and covered with the lid, the steam from the dough is trapped inside, creating a humid environment. This humidity is necessary for the bread to rise and develop a crispy crust.
The enclosed environment also helps to create "oven spring," which is the rapid rise of the dough during the first few minutes of baking. When the dough is placed in the preheated Dutch oven, the sudden burst of heat causes the trapped air in the dough to rapidly expand, creating that signature crusty exterior and airy interior that makes artisan bread so desirable.
If you do not own a Dutch oven, there are still a few alternative methods you can use to achieve similar results. One option is to use a heavy baking stone or cast iron skillet placed in the oven during preheating. Once the dough is ready, transfer it onto the preheated stone or skillet and quickly close the oven door. You can also add a small tray of water to the oven to create steam.
Another option is to use a large, deep roasting pan with a tight-fitting lid. Place the dough on a sheet of parchment paper and lower it into the roasting pan. Cover the pan with the lid and bake as directed. The key is to create a tightly enclosed environment for the bread to rise and bake in.
If you don't have a lid for your roasting pan, you can cover the pan tightly with foil. Be sure to tent the foil so that it does not touch the dough as it rises. Remove the foil during the last 10-15 minutes of baking to allow the crust to brown and crisp up.
While these methods may not be as foolproof as using a Dutch oven, they can still produce a delicious loaf of bread, as long as they're trapping heat and collecting steam.
Q: Can I use whole wheat flour instead of bread flour?
A: You can use whole wheat flour, but the resulting bread will be denser and have a different flavor than if you used bread flour. If you do use whole wheat flour, you may need to adjust the water amount slightly to get the right consistency.
Q: How long will the bread keep?
A: The bread will keep for a few days at room temperature, but it's best eaten within the first day or two. To keep it fresh longer, you can store it in the refrigerator or freezer.
Q: Can I add other ingredients to the bread, like herbs or cheese?
A: Yes, you can add other ingredients to the dough! I love a cheddar jalapeno loaf, in particular. Remember, though, that you may also need to adjust the water amount to compensate for any additional moisture in the ingredients.
Q: Can I make this recipe without using yeast?
A: This recipe relies on yeast for the rise, so it's not recommended to make it without yeast. However, there are other no-knead bread recipes that use natural sourdough starter instead of yeast if you're interested in exploring that option.
Q: Can I double or halve the recipe?
A: Yes, you can double or halve the recipe as needed, but keep in mind that the rising and baking times may need to be adjusted accordingly.
- 480 grams (about 3.5-4 cups) bread flour*
- 9 grams (1.5 teaspoons) salt
- 3 grams (½ teaspoon) instant yeast
- 360 grams (1.5 cups) room temperature water
- The night before baking day, mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast.
- Add the water and mix with your hands until a shaggy ball forms and no dry bits of flour remain. Cover with plastic wrap or a second bowl and let sit to rise at room temperature overnight (at least 10 hours).
- In the morning, stretch and fold the dough. Using a wet hand, lifting a handful of dough from one side of the bowl, stretch upward, and cross over toward the opposite side of the bowl. Turn the bowl slightly and continue around the bowl until a tighter dough ball forms, about 10 times in total. Cover and let rise again until roughly doubled in size, about 2 hours.
- When dough is ready, gently transfer to a floured surface, being careful not to stretch the dough too much as you separate it from the bowl. Fold the sides of the dough inward, one at a time, overlapping the last fold each time. Then, bring the edges of the dough toward the center to create a rounder shape, and pinch together to seal.
- Gently flip the dough over so the seam-side is down, and use your hands to turn and tuck the sides of the dough downward to create a more even loaf and increase the surface tension.
- Crumple a sheet of parchment paper into a ball and then smooth back out-- this will prevent the parchment from rolling up on itself. Transfer the dough to the parchment paper and cover one last time to rest as you preheat the oven.
- Set a dutch oven with the lid on into the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F for one hour.
- After an hour, carefully remove the preheated dutch oven from the oven, and place on a heat-safe surface. Remember, the pot and lid are both very hot. Use the parchment paper to transfer the dough to the dutch oven, cover with the lid, and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove the lid and bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until browned as desired.
- Remove the bread from the dutch oven, and let cool on a cooling rack until fully cooled, at least 4 hours.
* You can use all purpose flour if you prefer, but this recipe works best with bread flour, as the added protein content will aid in gluten development.
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 1 hour