5 Ingredients or Fewer

Alexandra Stafford's No-Knead Peasant Bread

April  4, 2017
39 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 2 hours 45 minutes
  • Cook time 35 minutes
  • Makes two 14-ounce loaves
Author Notes

This is it: the bread recipe so simple and good, it will get you baking bread every week—even if you’ve never made a loaf in your life. It’s the comforting, no-knead peasant bread that’s ready in as little as 2 hours, unlike other no-knead breads that are ready ... tomorrow. Recipe adapted slightly from Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
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Alexandra Stafford's No-Knead Peasant Bread
  • 4 cups (512 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 cups (454 grams) lukewarm water, made by mixing 1/2 cup boiling water with 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • Softened unsalted butter, for greasing
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, and instant yeast. Add the water. Using a rubber spatula, mix until the water is absorbed and the ingredients form a sticky dough ball. (If you need to use active dry yeast instead, proof it in the lukewarm water first for about 10 minutes, until foamy, before adding to the other ingredients.)
  2. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the dough has doubled in bulk. Note: Here's a trick for making the perfect warm spot for the dough to rise. Set the oven to 400° F and let it preheat for 1 minute, then shut it off. The temperature will be between 80° F and 100° F. you should be able to place your hands (carefully) on the oven grates without burning them.
  3. Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 425° F. Grease two 1-quart oven-safe bowls, like Pyrex (see note below), with softened butter—be generous. Using two forks, deflate the dough by releasing it from the sides of the bowl and pulling it toward the center. Rotate the bowl quarter turns as you deflate, turning the mass into a rough ball.
  4. Using your two forks and working from the center out, separate the dough into two equal pieces. Use the forks to lift each half of the dough into a prepared bowl. If the dough is too wet to transfer with forks, lightly grease your hands with butter or oil, then transfer half to a bowl. (If your dough drops and breaks apart on the transfer, don't worry, just divvy the dough between the bowls and it will come back together as it rises.) Do not cover the bowls. Let the dough rise on the countertop near the oven (or another warm, draft-free spot) for 10 to 20 minutes, until the top of the dough just crowns the rims of the bowls.
  5. Transfer the bowls to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375° F and bake for 17 to 20 minutes more, until evenly golden all around. Remove the bowls from the oven and turn the loaves out onto cooling racks. If the loaves look pale, return them to their bowls and bake for 5 minutes longer. Let the loaves cool for 15 minutes before cutting.
  6. Note: If you don't have 2 one-quart bowls, you may use other vessels, though differences in pan sizes will affect the shape of the final loaves. This recipe can be adapted for 2 loaf pans (preferably 8.5 x 4.5-inch pans) by multiplying the quantities of ingredients by 1.5 (i.e. 6 cups/768g flour, 3 cups water, etc.).

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Stefanie Pont
    Stefanie Pont
  • Kasia Suzuki
    Kasia Suzuki
  • VictoriaOC
  • Erin Axelrod
    Erin Axelrod
  • neonkitty
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

408 Reviews

gen1018 March 22, 2023
This is my first time ever baking my own bread. This bread is delicious, especially with a little butter on it. Will definitely make again, probably tomorrow !!
Carol G. October 16, 2022
The bread was okay, but I will probably not make it again. I much prefer Sally Lunn Bread which is also a no-knead bread and has a better crumb and is DELICIOUS and also makes great toast!
Picholine October 16, 2022
Sally Lund bread is not even the same type of bread! Has eggs and milk more like a brioche which is also a recipe from Alexandra’s cookbook .
No comparison in bread types. I make that too.
Carol G. October 16, 2022
I do realize that it is a different type of bread, but it is a no knead bread. I just think that for the time, Sally Lunn is a lot better. I've have been making it for 40 years. I just think that this bread didn't really have a lot of taste, that's all.
Picholine October 16, 2022
Can you post your recipe ! I’d like to try it!
Carol G. October 16, 2022
Certainly. 1 pkg active dry yeast, 1/4 cup warm water, 1/2 cup sugar, 2T lard, 2 eggs, 1 tsp table salt, 3 1/2 cup AP flour, 1 cup warm milk. Soften the yeast in the warm water for about 10 min. Cream the lard and the sugar - beat in the eggs and the salt. Stir in 1 1/2 cups flour and beat. Stir in the warm milk and yeast and mix well. Add the remaining 2 cups of flour and beat. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour. Stir down the dough and spoon into a well greased 10" tube pan. Cover and let rise again for about 35 to 45 min .... until doubled. Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 10 min. Increase heat to 375 and bake for another 25 min. Cool slightly and remove from the pan. Enjoy!
Carol G. October 16, 2022
Just an additional note .... I also grease the pan in lard. I know, people think of lard and go .... OMG! But, lard is better for you than butter. It has less saturated fat than butter and coconut oil. And, it does make a difference in the taste I think. I keep it in the freezer.
Picholine October 27, 2022
Thank you for the recipe.
Debbie G. September 1, 2023
Can you make this in a bread machine?
brushjl September 8, 2022
Wow, a lot of reviews for pretty mediocre bread, if you count all the detailed instructions for microwaving water. The measurements were off - I had to add an extra cup of flour, the volume was wrong - it really only makes one loaf. And the cooking time also was off, I needed an extra 15-20 minutes, and though the bread was cooked, the top never browned. The result was decent, though the crumb was a bit gluey.
Picholine September 8, 2022
It makes two loaves if you follow directions. Takes exactly the time to cook as well. So sorry you must have done something wrong.
fgb May 26, 2022
easy and infinitely riffable bread base. Highly recommend !
Ellen L. April 25, 2022
We absolutely love this bread and how easy it is from start to finish. Initially I followed the recipe and made 2 smaller loaves. When I switched to a single loaf in a 4 qt dutch oven, we liked it even better. I have also made it with Everything But the Bagel seeds on top for variety. My only issue is removing it from the pot is not as easy as I would like.
physicist February 9, 2022
Too many recipes seem to assume a gas stove and oven.

In #2, getting a warm oven: "Set the oven to 400° F and let it preheat for 1 minute, then shut it off. The temperature will be between 80° F and 100° F." My electric oven gets to 135 in 1 minute because of the residual heat in the heating elements.

After setting the oven to 425 and starting the baking, "Reduce the heat to 375° F" and continue baking. My electric oven is very well insulated, and it takes a long time for it to lose heat. It won't get down to 375 in the remaining "17 to 20 minutes."
Rosalind P. February 9, 2022
The concerns you mention don't really have anything to do with the kind of fuel used to heat the oven. A good gas oven, well insulated, also retains heat. The point here is that no oven will cool to 375 degrees when the control is turned to 375. The heat drops gradually, and my oven doesn't fall to 375 until the baking time is almost over. It's that gradual drop that is built into the method. So go ahead and use the recipe. If you're still concerned you can leave the oven door open for a moment or two. But the method is more forgiving than you think. (And, believe it or not, there are now sites that tell you how to actually start this kind of bread in a cold oven with a cold container. A lot easier than juggling all that blazing hot stuff. Google to find them)
freshbread February 9, 2022
I have an electric oven, too. I’ve found that leaving the door open for a minute or two does the trick.
Suz February 2, 2022
Not really a review of the recipe, but I have trouble with high hydration breads - I always end up with crust surrounding a wad of glue. That’s what happened today with this one. Back to the old-fashioned kneaded bread for me!
Smaug February 2, 2022
Have you tried baguettes? They're good practice for dough handling and can be counted on to cook through.
Stefanie P. January 30, 2022
I’m following a diet with very specific carb/bread restrictions. This recipe converted beautifully to using spelt and sprouted whole wheat flours - just played with the water content a bit. Delicious!
Smaug January 31, 2022
Since the hydration level and use of all purpose flour (an ill defined commodity) are about all that separates this recipe from a million others, I think you can congratulate yourself on developing a new recipe.
TRH January 30, 2022
Works great! This was my first attempt at baking bread. The recipe is easy to follow and it tastes great! I’ve already made it twice and will show my daughter how to make it because she got one of the fist loaves and loved it!!
Arrxx April 19, 2021
The recipe calls for a Pyrex bowl but the video clearly uses a Dutch oven. I guess that's okay? Also - for 1 loaf - half the recipe?
jawerkowitch April 19, 2021
I made this yesterday, my very first time making bread! It was SO easy and came out looking great, and delicious!
Do we know how long this will keep for?
Urszula April 19, 2021
It doesn’t hold for long. We usually finish the first loaf on the baking day and I always keep the other one in a fridge, otherwise it will start going bad about on a third day, depending on the temp and humidity.
crusherjoe2000 March 7, 2022
The best way to prevent bread from going stale is by freezing it. Leaving bread in the fridge will prevent it from molding but will not stop it from going stale (in fact, bread will go stale faster in the fridge).
Smaug September 8, 2022
Refrigerating bread makes it go stale in a very special and unpleasant way; a classic no no. Most breads freeze pretty well.
Kasia S. April 14, 2021
I do not have an oven so I made it in a cast-iron Dutch Oven on the stove. It came out perfectly (only next time I will add a little bit more salt, perhaps). Also, I did not divide the bread into two but made it all at once, and had to flip it halfway through the baking. Nevertheless, it was super good and I will be making this bread most likely every week from now on. Thanks!
Jkk17 December 30, 2021
Try coving the loaf with olive oil for second rise. Loaf will brown
Vikki S. April 12, 2021
My dough came out too dry! I'm proceeding but I don't have the highest hopes. Sitting on my counter waiting for the 2nd rise. I'll wait as long as it take to double.
Patiotools August 16, 2020
Help! I cannot get a second rise! Any suggestions are welcome : )
First rise is good, but even if I shorten it, cannot get it to rise again. When i put in oven, it comes out flat or even sunken. Still tastes great but I'd like to get it to rise!
Ellen P. September 20, 2020
Same problem here - it worked when I first made it but note coming out flat and dense. It’s not rising after first rise at all
Pat J. January 31, 2021
Ellen, after experimenting I found a solution. I microwave water til boiling then leave it in the microwave to create steam, then place my dough in there for the second rise. It works!
Sarah K. February 24, 2021
I'm pretty sure microwaving water is dangerous. Something about uneven heating and superheated areas that can boil up dangerously. You may want to research!
Lori February 24, 2021
Never heard such a thing and I have been boiling water in microwaves for over 35 years. In fact, there are numerous food items that are brought to boiling in microwaves—rice comes to mind.
Sarah K. February 24, 2021
It is rare but not unheard of. And it happens only when you boil water alone (not with rice, for instance) and only if you use smooth-sided containers. "Microwaves are specifically designed to heat water molecules and to heat them very rapidly. This can end up heating the water faster than it can turn into vapor, causing it to become superheated. Bubbles of water vapor can then quickly form when the water is jostled as the cup is taken out of the microwave. This makes it boil up, seeming to “explode,” as all the vapor is suddenly released." That's from https://www.thekitchn.com/fact-or-fiction-exploding-wate-109388.
Also see this for more info, and many other articles from reputable sources online: https://www.stevespanglerscience.com/lab/experiments/exploding-water-in-the-microwave/
Lori February 24, 2021
Given the number of times I have boiled just water in the microwave over the years, I’m not going to worry about it. Maybe it is more of an issue of putting it in for too long. Kind of like putting in something that only needs to be heated for 15 seconds and accidentally heating for 15 minutes—you will end up with a fire m
Rosalind P. April 12, 2021
Sometimes -- and it really is only sometimes -- if you heat water in the microwave to a boiling point but the water isn't bubbling, if you then put something in the cup when you take it out -- like a spoon -- it can bubble vigorously (violently) for just a second. It's happened to me. I'm just careful now.
Rosalind P. April 12, 2021
Yup. Didn't see this response so I wrote something like it, but not as well as you explained it. :-)
Pat J. April 12, 2021
Hi Pat - I think I found a solution. (I tried the heated water in the microwave, it helped get a second rise but it deflated in the oven.) I read in a bread cookbook by america's test kitchen that no-knead breads really need a little folding between the first and second rise - i tried it and it worked for me - once, so far : ) Good luck!
Pat J. August 23, 2021
I will try that- thank you, going to make a loaf right now!
Catherine P. January 22, 2022
When heating water in microwave place a wooden popsicle stick or something similar (broken chopstick) in the container along with water.
Lynda June 1, 2020
Hello! I love making this bread. Has any one made this bread in a traditional loaf pan? If so, what changes are needed to the basic recipe?
Rosalind P. June 1, 2020
Not an expert but I believe that with this (and all the other artisanal no-knead) recipe/technique it isn't the shape of the pan but the capture of moisture that matters. I'm guessing that any proper-sized pan or bowl that can be pre-heated and is covered tightly will work.
Picholine June 1, 2020
Yes, I make it at least once a week in a bread pan that is a USA metal pan I bought on Amazon last year . It is for larger loaves and is a bit longer than the usual size loaf pan. Makes a perfect loaf for this recipe. Bakes in my convection about same as instructed in recipe.
Lynda June 1, 2020
Thank you so much for the feedback!
Lynda June 1, 2020
Thank you very much for the response.
freshbread June 1, 2020
Hi Lynda! Yes, step 6 above actually offers instructions on this, guiding in how to make this recipe in two 8.5x4-inch loaf pans -- there, the recipe says to multiply all amounts by 1.5. If instead you wanted to make just one loaf, which is how I like to do it, then you'd multiply all quantities by 0.75.
VictoriaOC May 24, 2020
I want to make a single loaf in a dutch oven. Video doesn't give a size, and one person said they've done it in a 2 qt. while someone else said they used a 5.5 qt. Anyone know?
freshbread May 24, 2020
I've done this -- it'll work! Just use the full 4-cup measurement for your one large loaf. It ends up being roughly the size of those Dutch oven breads from folks like Jim Lahey, Emilie Raffa, Ken Forkish.

In fact, in Alexandra Stafford's book, "Bread Toast Crumbs," she offers instructions on how to do this. Among these helpful notes, I find her parchment paper tip particularly smart, and now use it whenever making a Dutch oven bread:

"To give the Peasant Bread the Lahey treatment, while the dough is making its first rise (in a warm spot, but not your oven), preheat a Dutch oven for 45 minutes at 450F. Dust a clean surface with 1/4 cup (32g) flour. Turn the dough out onto the clean surface and shape the dough into a ball using the pinkie-edge of your hands to pinch the dough underneath, creating tension. Transfer the dough to a sheet of parchment paper – the use of parchment paper here is key, as it allows for a seamless transition from the counter to the preheated Dutch oven. After 20 minutes of resting on the counter, remove the Dutch oven from the oven, lower the Peasant Bread, parchment paper and all, into the pan, cover, and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes more."
VictoriaOC May 24, 2020
Thank you freshbread for all the info! Actually, I had read about the parchment paper method elsewhere and was definately going to go that route. Glad you confirmed it works great!

If this recipe works out for me, I'll probably get the book. But, for now, I still need some guidance on the size of the Dutch oven for this particular recipe. I want to end up with a nicely shaped loaf, not too flat and not too big for the pot. I have Dutch ovens that I think might work, but I'm not sure which one to use: 2 qt round, 2.75 qt. round, or a 3.75 oval. Please advise ... thank you so much!
Rosalind P. May 24, 2020
It can "work" in many sizes of vessel. I have used a medium size pyrex bowl, with a cover. I've used a 6 quart dutch oven. In that one, the bread was flatter than in a smaller baking vessel. I thought the a 4 quart dutch oven or the pyrex bowl gave the best shape, for me. But it was successful and delicious every time. And by the way, it can be started in a cold oven, eliminating that tricky part of getting the bread into the burning hot baking pot. Google no-knead bread, cold oven.
VictoriaOC May 24, 2020
Thank you, Rosalind, that helps, a lot! I'm going to try it in the 3.75 qt. oval and see how it goes ... wish me luck!
freshbread May 24, 2020
Good luck, indeed! With good results, I've used a 4-quart Staub Round Cocotte .
Picholine May 27, 2020
Use a larger than 2qt Dutch Oven. Works great!
VictoriaOC May 27, 2020
Thanks, again!
Amy February 25, 2021
Thank you, freshbread! I followed these instructions and used my Staub cocotte. It's beautiful! Hard to wait for it to cool.......... :)
Erin A. May 24, 2020
Has anyone made this bread recipe in a solar cooker? I use an All-American Sun Oven which typically gets up to 350-400 degrees. Just curious if I start with cooking this recipe at 350 and just cook it a bit longer will it turn out the same?
Erin A. May 24, 2020
Also, has anyone adapted this Recipe to use homemade sourdough starter instead of instant yeast?
Anita June 2, 2020
hi, curious if you ended up trying that and how it worked out? I'm thinking of giving it a shot and substituting by weight for water and flour (and crossing my fingers).
neonkitty May 10, 2020
Just did a 5 way Zoom call with busy mom's and taught them this super easy bread recipe that we will all continue to enjoy for ever and ever. The only tricky part was the end when we had to watch the oven as everyone's oven is different but getting to that 'golden point' was easy and we are now enjoying the best avocado / vegan butter/ hot honey toasts ever. Thank you!
Bobbie C. May 9, 2020
What size Staub is she using?
Yvonne P. May 8, 2020
The demonstration shows using a lid to bake but the directions do not say to cover the bowls before putting in the oven. Which direction should I follow?
Alex G. May 8, 2020
I’ve never used a lid to bake. It comes out beautifully. Happy baking!