5 Ingredients or Fewer

No Knead Country Loaf

March 22, 2013
5 Ratings
Photo by Beth Kirby
  • Prep time 19 hours
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Makes 1 10" round loaf, 1 1/4 pounds
Author Notes

I’ve always cherished the dear notion of forming an intimate relationship with wild yeast lassoed from thin air with water and flour, but more often than not when faced with the prospect of a multi-day process and feeding schedule, I end up running out to the store instead. While it’s no indignity to pay a baker for your bread, I still prefer being able to conjure sustenance from, seemingly, pennies and dust at home. The ever popular “no knead” method now allows me the satisfaction of more often than not baking my own bread, but it’s low maintenance enough that I can actually, in real reality, integrate it into my weekly routine. If traditional artisan methods are like having a dog, this "no knead" method from Jim Lahey's book "My Bread" is more like having a cat. Just leave it alone and let it do its thing. This recipe is now my reliable go to when I haven’t time for a “project” but want bread. Which is mostly always. Even better you can make it your own by folding in almost anything right at the beginning when mixing the basic ingredients: nuts, fruit, spices, olives, cheese, roasted garlic, or herbs. Make it your own. A ribollita with olive bread is a natural, and pain perdu made with spiced cranberry & walnut bread is heavenly. Note: All purpose flour will work in a pinch here. —Beth Kirby | {local milk}

What You'll Need
  • 3 cups bread flour (400 grams)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt (8 grams)
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant or other active dry yeast (1 gram)
  • 1 1/3 cups cool (55-65 degrees F) water (300 grams)
  • 1/4 cup wheat bran, cornmeal, or additional flour as needed for dusting
  1. Sit a bowl on a kitchen scale. Measure your flour, salt, and yeast directly into the bowl. If using volumetric measurements, skip the scale. Stir in the water to form a sticky dough using a wooden spoon. You know, so you can get at least a little of that visceral, old world thrill. It should be tacky, and if it isn’t, add a tablespoon or two more water. Cover that bowl with a tea towel, plastic, what have you. And then let it come to life in a dark corner of your kitchen counter over the course of 12 to 18 hours. It will more than double in size and be dotted with bubbles. [Note: If you don’t have a scale, the volumetric measurements are acceptable albeit less accurate, but don’t pack the flour in. And then get a scale. I’m one of those true believers, a kitchen scale evangelist. More accurate. Fewer dishes. Amen.]
  2. Pull the stringy dough out onto a generously floured surface and make a ball by pulling the edges into the center with lightly floured hands. It's gonna be sticky but resist the temptation to add more flour. Wrap seam side down in a kitchen towel (no terry cloth unless you want fuzzies in your bread) dusted with your choice of dusting flour for an hour or two. When your press your finger in 1/4 inch and it leaves an impression, it's ready. If not let it rest another 15 minutes.
  3. In the last half hour of the second rise, heat your oven to 475° and throw a Dutch oven in there to heat up along with it. When it’s time to bake, dust the bottom of the pot with cornmeal or flour. Invert your bread ball in off the kitchen towel, seam up. Bake it 30 minutes covered and about 10 uncovered or until it’s deep golden. Cool it thoroughly, about an hour. Or don’t and rip into it within ten minutes, burning your finers, like I inevitably do. And there you have it. Yeasty, crusty, golden bread with, I swear, no more than 5 minutes of hands-on time.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • daisy326
  • Dan Earixson
    Dan Earixson
  • Yvette
  • Vera Kern
    Vera Kern
  • Emily Love
    Emily Love
A Southern writer with a cast iron skillet & a camera. Freelance food writer & photographer. Blogs at Localmilkblog.com

31 Reviews

Charlene V. April 25, 2021
This is also reminiscent of the country/ peasant bread in Nancy Baggett’s Kneadlessly Simple. A hit every time! She has you spritz the dough with water right before you put the lid on the Dutch oven.

My only quibble with this recipe is “throw a Dutch oven...”. I know it’s picky, and everyone wants to be hip and informal in their recipe writing, but when has anyone ever thrown a Dutch oven anywhere?!
daisy326 July 8, 2019
I'm curious what the science is behind using cool water as opposed to warm water? I feel like most yeasted bread recipes I've seen specifically want you to use warm water to encourage the yeast to ferment. How come this doesn't make the yeast sluggish?
Dan E. May 22, 2019
Listen I've been trying to make a decent loaf of bread for about 5 years. I can never get a crumb that has those delicious irregular size bubbles, instead it's always a tight crumb, like a sandwich bread. Every single time . Until this recipe. This genius little gem gave me crusty, chewy bread with just a lil' stank, hinting at sourdough. My wife went nuts over this and it was gone in a day. Thank you.
Lisa June 24, 2017
I wouldn't recommend using a scale to measure 1 gram of yeast. Just to check, I used an empty bowl and kept adding yeast and got up to 7 tsp and it still didn't measure as 1 gram on my Oxo scale.
Lisa July 26, 2016
Can someone advise please whether I am supposed to knock it down at all before the second rise? Or just gently shape it? I had difficulty getting the dough to stay in a ball for second rise and it flowed alot. Any tips?
Excellent and delicious recipe though! Lived up to expectations!
msmely December 1, 2018
I scrape it out of the bowl onto a heavily floured surface and stretch and fold it a couple of times before tucking the edges underneath. I usually don't want big bubbles up top so I will spend some more time with a bench scraper and my fingers tucking the outside edge underneath (like I'm making a dough mushroom cap) to make a nice round shape. Try not to tuck dry flour up inside the loaf!! The dry flour is just to keep it from sticking to your hands. You'll lose enough gas from the dough this way that you don't need to "knock it down" any more than you would from just handling it. More tucking under = more knocking down = a more even / less open crumb.

The second rise won't really be the final shape, this dough really benefits a lot from oven spring. Preheating a dutch oven and starting with the lid on buffers the outside from the intensity of the oven and allows it to steam a bit; this means the crust on the outside doesn't form as quickly, the yeast gets a final burst of activity (=more CO2=more bubbles) and the final product will be taller and rounder rather than flat.
Yvette April 10, 2016
Just made this and it turned out perfect. Excellent recipe.
Vera K. January 21, 2016
Just made this and love it. It came out beautifully. The love is on the small side though, is it possible to simply double the recipe? Would the time in the oven change?
angie August 3, 2015
simple and delightful. went with 1/3 whole wheat, and the resulting loaf had a beautiful crunchy crust with that slight tang i love to find in rustic loaves like this. i never would have imagined no knead loaves could come together to wonderfully! had difficulty getting a nice round boule shape, but that's a reflection of my lack of expertise in baking. but i'll definitely work on it! thank you for sharing this foolproof recipe. will definitely be referring to this and adding whatever tweaks to shake each loaf up a bit.
Penny May 14, 2015
I've spent years looking for a simple fail proof bread recipe - and a few months ago I found this. The simplest, crustiest, most delicious loaf imaginable. I make it at least 3 times a week. mix it in the evening and bake it sometime the following day. One third wholewheat flour works best for me, and I shape the loaf onto floured baking paper. Easy to lift and drop into the Dutch Over without burning your self. Topped with a pat of unsalted cultured butter ....
Emily L. January 8, 2015
Is it okay to make this in a non-enameled dutch oven? Thanks!
Emilia R. February 12, 2014
Any thoughts on using part or only whole wheat flour?
m T. February 4, 2014
Please no more comments to my email.
pcskinner February 4, 2014
By the way I followed your directions to the letter. It was the crusty chewy dunk in EVOO or pasta sauce kind of bread I have been looking for. Thank you for your great recipe. Making more this evening as the first loaf won't make it till tomorrow! Very similar to Chabatta bread my fav.
pcskinner February 4, 2014
Just popped a loaf out of my oven!!!!!! Ohhhhh fabulous! Couldn't wait until it cooled slathered it with butter .....beautiful!! taste treat
Nancy December 20, 2013
I don't have a dutch oven or pizza stone, can you just put it on a cookie sheet? What else would work?
Lorrie B. November 18, 2013
So it goes in the oven with the seam up? Just wanting to be sure :)
Linda October 16, 2013
For the final rise, I put the dough on a Silpat and cover it lightly with plastic film -- no towel fuzzies and easy release.
MillersMom June 18, 2013
Anyone try this with whole wheat bread flour? It's the only bread flour my local Whole Foods stocks in bulk, and it's all I have!
Johnny R. June 19, 2013
I've done this successfully with 100% Whole Wheat flour, and with Rye flour, but it will turn out pretty flat (although still tasty) if you don't add wheat gluten. Hopefully you have a source for that...
Rachel C. July 13, 2013
How much wheat gluten did you use?
Fina62 May 22, 2013
Can you form these into several smaller boules? By how much would you reduce the cooking time?
Jennifer A. April 21, 2013
Thank you! I just pulled a loaf out of the oven, and smeared a hot slice with lots of butter. So delicious and easy! This is the FIRST TIME I have ever had success making bread, and I will definitely put it in regular rotation :)