No-knead Bread in two hours or less

I’ve had a revelation and I can’t quite believe it. It goes against every single thing I’ve ever learnt about bread-making and I don’t understand it at all. Despite my being completely incapable of understanding why this works I felt I had to share it with you anyway because it’s completely revolutionised the way I make my bread – and while this may sound like rather a grandiose claim, it’s completely true. I have made this no-knead bread now with different yeasts and different flours – about nine times in total – because I had to make sure that this wasn’t just a fluke. “How could such an incredible result be possible?” I thought?

I’m hoping that by telling you this that I can motivate anyone who’s never got around to making their own bread (Kristy, I’m looking directly at you… no more excuses now!) into finally giving it a go, and for those of you who do make bread, then perhaps this can help speed up your weekly baking. For me, bread is one of the single most satisfying things that one can ever bake. The satisfaction, the joy, the sensory overload you get from touching the dough – feeling the soft elasticity beneath your fingers, shaping it, cutting it, baking it, and then smelling, cutting, and eating a freshly made, well-baked loaf of bread… it’s one of life’s simplest, but most profound pleasures.

Easy no-knead bread

So how did this revelation come about? Quite simply: I’m lazy. I was making bread using my regular recipe and I thought “enough!”. I knead the dough religiously for 10 – 15 minutes every time I make bread and while the flavour is good the crumb is close and air bubbles are small. The texture is often a little crumbly which annoys me intensely since I thought the whole point of kneading was to stretch the gluten molecules so you don’t get crumbly bread! I’d seen these “no-knead” recipes, which I’m sure many of you are familiar with, though many of them call for leaving the dough to prove for many, many hours – often overnight! I couldn’t possibly wait this long… I like to get my bread over and done with in a couple of hours so I just decided to stir in the water and then let it sit, covered, in the bowl for an hour.

Easy no-knead bread

It doubled in size – always a good sign, and an initial glance showed a fantastic collection of all manner of differently-sized air bubbles inside. Another good sign. I shaped it into a loaf and carefully deposited it into a tin. After letting it rise again I baked it and then allowed it to cool. It looked good, but the proof of the proverbial pudding is in the eating so it was not without some trepidation that I cut a slice.

The result shocked me. The first time I made this I remember staring into the loaf wondering how on earth it was possible. Why have I been told to knead bread all my life? The result of my no-knead bread was a springy, elastic crumb, pocked with differently sized air pockets (this is what I always look for in bread – I’m not a fan of close crumb). The whole batch had needed about 5 minutes of “manual” work, about two hours to rise and that was it, and I had an end product which was far and away the best darn bread I’d ever made – and it’s all because I’m lazy and couldn’t be bothered to knead, or to wait for the dough to prove overnight.

Easy no-knead bread

Pretty much every source I could find online said that no-knead bread has to be started around a day before you actually wish to bake it, so I’m really wondering… what gives? How come mine turns out great in the same amount of time that it takes to make regular kneaded bread? During one of my test bakes I actually did let it prove overnight because I wanted to see how different it would be. The result? Pretty much identical!

Lesson of the day, people: sometimes laziness actually does pay off! Given my results with this recipe, I urge you – go forth and make this bread! Let me know how it turns out, and if anyone knows why this works after less than a couple of hours and other recipes recommend waiting 12 or more then I’d love to know that too!

Two Hour No-Knead Bread

[learn_more caption=”Video Recipe” state=”open”]

[/learn_more]

Two-Hour No-Knead Bread
Yields 1
A simple, easy, and best of all fast recipe for no-knead bread. Try this and you'll never need to buy bread again!
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
2 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
2 hr
Ingredients
  1. 400g Plain Flour
  2. 300ml warm Water
  3. 8g dried Yeast (not quick-acting)
  4. 3tsps Sugar
  5. 1tsps Salt
Instructions
  1. Start off by placing the yeast into a small bowl and pour about 50ml of the water gently on top. Set aside and allow the yeast to activate and froth up for about 15 minutes. Activating the yeast
  2. Mix the salt and sugar in with the flour and then make a well in the centre. Pour in the activated yeast and then the rest of the water and mix well until the flour is completely combined. Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place to prove for about 60 minutes or so, until the dough has doubled in size.
  3. Grease and flour a loaf tin and then turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Dust the dough with a bit more flour and then fold over a few times. Form the dough into a block and press into the bottom of the tin. Make some deep cuts into the top of the loaf and sprinkle on some flour before setting aside in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes. Turn on your oven to preheat to 230 degrees Celsius.
  4. When the loaf has risen above the edges of the tin carefully place it into the preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, according to how brown you like your crust, and until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Remove from the tin immediately after baking and allow to cool on a wire rack.
Five Euro Food http://www.fiveeurofood.com/

Comments

  1. The Wife says

    It did really turn out very well. And less time for you in the kitchen of course means more time for you changing diapers so that’s an extra bonus! ;-) Five stars from me.

    • says

      Hehe, I hope you get a chance to try it Charlie – I was so surprised. I made it into a baguette too and it was one of the best baguettes I’ve had!

  2. says

    Ok I am sold!
    I will try to make this hopefully over the weekend and I will let you know.
    I don’t have an explanation for why it works but what I have noticed is that if you mix the water and flour till it barely comes together and then cover it and allow it to hydrate for 10- 15 minutes then proceed to knead it, you will get a much more elastic dough that is easier to knead and results in a silky smooth dough. I have never tried to do it without kneading though! I can’t wait to try

    • says

      Thanks Sawsan – do let me know how it turns out. I’ll be so sad if it doesn’t work, but like I said – I’ve made it so many times… more than 10 now and it’s perfect every time.

      Good tip on the water and flour hydration thing – I’ll try this too next time I’m kneading a bread.

  3. says

    Charles, I haven’t tried making a no knead bread in years. I even bought a metal knob ($16) for my Cuisinart dutch oven so I could use the high oven temperatures required but the results were less than worth trying to replicate. Your loaf DOES look wonderful. The only difficulty I have with the recipe is figuring out how many tsps the 8gms of dried yeast converts into.

    My cheap little scale isn’t that precise though it’s been able to do the required measurements for the potato gnocchi and home made semolina and egg pasta I’ve made recently. I’ve crossed off several items on my cooking bucket list. Mostly desserts left on it it seems. :)

    • says

      Hi A_ – 1tbsp is roughly 15g, so if you went for a bit less than 1tbsp for 400g flour you should be good. I haven’t tried making it in a dutch oven yet – I’m not sure what the benefits of it are because you can get a good crust by putting some water on a hot tray in the oven during baking.

      • says

        If 15 gms = 1 tbsp, 8 gms should be a bit over 1/2 tbsp but I can do a scant 1 tbsp … better a bit too much than too little. Thank you for the math.

        The principle behind using the dutch oven is that you preheat the oven with the dutch oven in it and then transfer the risen dough to the oven and put the lid on. The moisture get sealed into the oven maximizing the heat and doing some steaming as well as well.

        The recipe here makes it a bit clearer, I think, and suggests that you can get that sourdough starter taste without using a sourdough starter.

  4. says

    Interesting, Charles: most recipes I have seen for no-knead bread involve sourdough starter. Because sourdough involves a long slow rise and, because one way to create sourdough is to let regular bread dough sour by keeping it hours in a warm place, I am not surprised that long rising times are the rule. I prefer bread with a close crumb for some things (peanut butter sandwiches, for example). What’s important is that you are happy with your bread and it works for you.

    • says

      Hi Sharyn – curious: I’ve had the opposite experience. My of the recipes I’ve ever seen for no-knead bread involve regular yeast. I initially thought this was why they always had such long proving times, but indeed, it seems that they all do.

      I like a close crumb occasionally, but I got so tired of my old style of bread – I can’t believe how elastic this is… it’s the closest thing I’ve made to traditional “French” baguette bread before, so I’m really happy it worked out :)

  5. says

    These no knead breads are catching on, there are quite a few out there. I think it’s a conspiracy, you don’t really need to knead.
    I am making bread today, so I will try yours out. Should be interesting since I’m at high altitude and baking is always fun at these heights! I will let you know. Bread looks awesome, btw.

    Nazneen

    • says

      Thanks Nazneen – It’s a popular thing for sure. Purists seem to hate it because they’re all about the kneading but I don’t understand… I like fluffy, elastic, airy bread and if I can get it from this method, then why the heck have I been doing it the messy way round?

  6. says

    Congratulations Charles, that is indeed a very delicious looking loaf of bread. JT has been making no knead bread for a few years now, with unprecedented excellent success. We even make a no knead pizza dough with equal and success. Our recipe is from New York Times and he bakes it two ways, first in a Enamel Cast Iron Dutch oven with a sealed lid (remove the knob and stuff with tin foil) and then remove the lid and brown the crumb. It is AMAZING! I even bought him a Pate-Terrine so that he could make more French loaf style breads. His dough is a bit more ‘shaggier’ than your photos. The other thing that is interesting about this recipe and method is the very tiny amount of yeast! I believe the New York Times recipe only calls for an 1/4th of a teaspoon, barely a pinch! This was the best textured loaf, we tried three recipes on the blog: http://kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com/2009/01/18/ok-i-lied-this-is-the-best-ever-no-knead-bread-recipe/
    I must say though, that this method has completely eliminated the ‘therapeutic’ aspects of bread making. Yes, you heard me, rigorously needing the dough by hand lets some ‘steam’ escape if you know what I mean.
    The cookie company that bakes the cookies in less than a minute has perfected this method by using significantly high heat. I just don’t get how they do it without burning the dough or even the inclusions!

    • says

      Hi Eva – thanks for answering my cookie question… though I’d love to know how they don’t get burnt!

      I’m familiar with the NYT recipe – I’ve seen it around a lot… indeed, it’s the first result which pops up on Google when you search I think, though even that one says you have to leave it for so long, and seriously… who’s got time for that? So much forward planning. I love that I can whack out a loaf for the family in a couple of hours, with only about 5 minutes actual “labour”.

      I made it into a baguette and it was one of the best I’ve ever had (and that’s saying something, considering I live in baguette-land!).

  7. says

    Wow! Stunning bread and amazing recipe! I would re-name it ‘Miracle Bread’ – it just seems too easy to be true. But I am loving your ethos that laziness pays off. Lol! On this occasion, it appears you are right and I look forward to lazily making fabulous bread very soon :)

    • says

      Hi Anneli – I do hope you will be able to give it a try! I was so pleased with how it turned out, and every subsequent attempt since then has been just perfect too!

  8. says

    Charles, I’m sincerely impressed. Your bread looks so perfect! If it wasn’t you (I trust you!) I would’t believe it’s made without kneading. Amazing! I have never started baking bread for several reasons, the first one being my lack of discipline… leading to me having half of the loaf in one go! On the other hand, my baker has just closed for two weeks, so when I finally run out of French bread (I have some frozen), I will try your recipe in spite of overeating risks ;-) You advertise it in such a convincing way!

    • says

      Aah, you can be sure I’m telling the truth… never have I been able to achieve this sort of consistency with kneading, and this is the kind of bread I like… pocked with so many air-holes!

      Yesterday I made it again, and divided the dough into two: made it into two long baguettes and baked it… it was really one of the best baguettes I’ve eaten… better than most of the ones I get from bakeries around here!

  9. says

    What an easy bread recipe and yours looks terrific. If you have made this many times now, it sounds like it is going to work every time. It will be interesting to see if people in other parts of the world get the same results. This is a post I’ll have to come back to later.

    • says

      Me too Karen – I hope it works out as successfully for others as it does for me… I’ve made it a lot now though, so I think I’m on to a winner!

  10. says

    Charles, that’s a lovely loaf! I make all kinds of bread, kneaded and not, and like them all for different purposes. This loaf looks like it’s got some of what I like about no-knead at the same being a bread you could use for kneaded-bread purposes. Cool! But I absolutely love kneading bread by hand. A previous commenter – Eva, I think – called it “thereapeutic” and that it most certainly is.

    • says

      Hi Jean – I do agree… kneading bread is very enjoyable but I must admit that I’m a bit lazy sometimes and to be able to make really nice bread with almost no effort is very good!

  11. says

    I’ve been waiting to read this one because I knew it was going to tempt me. And tempt me it did! Looks like I’m going to have to try making some yeast bread. This looks far too easy to pass up. I’m going to keep Miss A on hand though – she’s my good luck charm with bread.
    I actually have been making two fresh loaves a week now. However, not with yeast. I’ve been using kefir grains. So far so good. This bread doesn’t require much yeast either. So perhaps now it’s time to try with yeast. Miss A would be happy. She doesn’t like the taste of the kefir bread which is very much like sourdough. And I really like the air holes in this bread for sure! It’s very impressive. Alright. You’ve convinced me. I’m going to try making the bread. :) I’ll keep you posted.

    • says

      Hi Kristy – you have to try this… you’ll love it I think, and it’s so easy! I told your wife about your kefir bread and we were intrigued. She couldn’t fathom how it might be made, though perhaps it’s a different type of kefir you have? We have water kefir at the moment… is it the same as yours, or do you have milk kefir? Do you make it with the actual grain things themselves, or the liquid or…? Do you have a recipe? I really want to try it!

      • says

        Hi Charles! I have the kefir grains. I feed them daily (with milk) and each day I separate the kefir milk from the grains. I use the kefir milk at the end of the week (when I usually have about 3 cups) to make the bread. I produces two loaves for me. I’m planning to do a post on it soon. :) We’re heading on vacation tomorrow and I plan to try your recipe while there. I’ll let you know how it goes!

        • says

          Ah – the milk type! We have the stuff you do with water, so not sure if I could do the same thing, though I’ll be interested to see your recipe – it sounds truly intriguing!

          Enjoy your vacation – and do let me know how the bread goes! :)

  12. says

    Charles, welcome to a community of no kneaders :) I always bake a sourdough one, which doesn’t need any kneading to begin with, but this looks like a great recipe (and much faster than mine!

    • says

      Hi G, actually I’ve started mixing in a bit of sourdough starter to enrich the flavour, though I do like having the regular yeast in there for the speed factor!

  13. says

    Well laziness certainly paid off here. That is a GORGEOUS loaf of bread! Bobby has made the no-knead bread a couple of times where it sits overnight so I’m going to have to share this with him. Of course I’ll just make it myself. :) I like both the loose crumb and the tight crumb, but the later mostly for PB&Js. For everything else, give me this loaf you’ve got here. GREAT post Charles!

    • says

      Thanks MJ – it makes a great baguette (well, the amount listed is enough for 2 baguettes) so I hope you’ll have a chance to try it soon… and I do hope it works as well for you guys as it did for me! I was so pleased :)

  14. says

    I am so used to kneading as well. How was the texture? was it soft or chewy, I guess without the kneading part the gluten would not toughen. Got to try this my self as well

    • says

      Hi Raymund – it’s difficult to describe it. Stretch and elastic is the best way I think. Basically, if you have some relatively cold butter on a knife, and try and spread it on the bread, you’ll find it much easier, and the bread much more resistant to ripping than conventional kneaded bread!

  15. says

    Wow looks so easy! I am going to try baking bread once kids start school. This sounds so easy and looks delicious. I want the fresh bread smell coming from the oven. I tend to overeat but so worth it…sometimes better than any sweets (which I also love)!

    • says

      Hi Nami – I really hope you’ll try this. With the ingredients I specified, you can easily divide it into two lumps of dough, pull them out into big, long sausages and make two baguettes which taste amazing!

  16. says

    This bread is absolutely fantastic, I am shocked how good it turned out and tasted. I was so skeptical, I hope you dont mind but I will be blogging this recipe :)

  17. says

    So this is my new favorite go to recipe for everyday bread. I even made it with half whole wheat and it still worked great. Last night I made a double batch split it and added honey, cinnamon and raisins to one half and we love it! Thanks for this quick recipe.

    • says

      Hooray, another success story – I was so worried when I posted this… even though I can continuously make it with no problem I was so scared that if anyone tried it, it would fail, so it’s wonderful to hear that it works for you!

      LOVE the idea of adding honey, cinnamon and raisins – sounds fantastic – thanks for the suggestion, will try that myself!

  18. gajra says

    hi Charles, i tried this recipe but with a slight change. first i went half and half on the flour as in i used whole wheat and plain flour.second i don’t know if instant is the same as what you have recommended. up until the second rise things were real good but now here’s the thing, my bread when i sliced it is denser than yours and dosen’t have the nice spacing of air pockets as you’ve described.is it because of the flour ratio i used or the yeast thing lemme know please if its not a bother. oh by the way i live in India so the weather is good for baking bread.. so i don’t see that as the problem.

    • says

      Hi Gajra – I have since made it with quick-acting yeast, so I can confirm that it works successfully with that type. I must admit I’ve never tried different flours though. I’ve always just used plain white.

      Someone else mentioned they used half wholewheat/half plain flour, so that should be no problem…

      By the sound of things, if things were ok up until the second rise then I can only think of two things:
      – Either you maybe handled the dough too much before putting it in the tin… if you do this then you risk destroying the lovely internal “honeycomb” structure of air pockets. It’s important to just fold it over a bit and push into the tin (I say that as well because when I knead the bread, the crumb is very close which seems similar to yours)

      or

      – Maybe it didn’t rise for long enough on the second rise?

      Sorry you didn’t have such good success – I hope you won’t give up though… it’s a really good, easy bread and other people seem to have had good success!

      By the way, I’ve been making it into baguettes recently – dividing the dough into two after the first rise, and stretching the pieces into long thin baguette shapes, about 50cm long – it needs less time to rise and cook but is really wonderful!

  19. says

    Hey Charles, this looks wonderful. I quit the kneading method a few years back when I too discovered a no knead recipe. Mine uses only flour, instant yeast, water and salt and cornmeal on the cookie sheet to bake the preformed loaves or rounds! I love the taste over kneaded bread and the best thing I see with yours too is no fat added! That has to count for something with the bread Gods! Nice blog by the way!

    • says

      Thanks Sandy – sorry I took a while to reply… I was in the middle of moving to a new country :). I never knead bread anymore – I don’t actually understand the point of it now. I’m going to bake two loves one day – a kneaded and a no-knead, and then do a side-by-side taste test with my family to see which is best!

  20. says

    OK, you totally won me over! My dough is rising as I speak and I expect great things from it (as I experienced the same disappointing results as you from homemade bread before)… Can’t wait!

    • says

      Hi Vanessa, thanks! Good to hear… I hope it turned out well. I make it all the time now as my “primary” bread and have not had any failure yet so I hope others will have the same luck as me! :)

      • Kris says

        Hi Charles, I stumbled across your recipe while searching for easy no-knead bread and I have to say, it came out splendid! It was even my second attempt at baking bread ever, and I was so surprised! The middle of the loaf (along the horizontal) kinda collapsed though, so I wonder if I didn’t let it proof correctly? Thank you so much!

        • says

          Hi Kris – I never had this happen to me… I hope it was still ok!

          The only thing I can think is that maybe it was a yeast-related problem.

          Can you remember what type of yeast it was? If it was dried “regular” yeast (looks like little balls) then that needs to be activated as I mentioned in the recipe. If it was “instant” or “quick-activating” yeast (looks like tiny delicate fibres) then that doesn’t need activation and can be added in with the flour directly. Both of them work, but I think that maybe trying to activate “quick activating” yeast beforehand may harm its efficiency.

          Equally, if yeast is old, or the water is too hot that can also mess things up. Last but not least, being more than very gentle with the risen loaf while transferring to the oven can cause it to collapse irrecoverably in the middle.

          There’s a lot of chemistry going on with bread and a lot of things that can go wrong.

          It’s always possible it was just a “fluke” occurrence. I never had it sink on me and the people I know who’ve tried it all said the recipe turned out excellently so I hope you’ll feel like trying it again! :)

  21. Kris says

    Charles – thanks for the input! The bread was indeed delicious! I used active-dry yeast however when I poured the warm water into the yeast bowl, it didn’t “froth” or build up like yours did in the video. I believe the yeast I was using may be expired. I’ll give it another go with fresh ingredients. Thanks again!

    • says

      Hi Kris – sorry, I’m not clear about the yeast you were using… was it like lots of little balls, or was it the really fine stuff (almost like powder)? If the latter then you should just add it to the flour – no need to activate it with water first, but good luck anyway – I hope it turns out well!

      By way, it makes excellent baguettes too, if you feel like grabbing a ball of dough and stretching it out to a baguette shape :)

  22. Heather says

    Wow I forgot to take my mother out of the fridge to feed and make bread for my Friday night girls drinks night so googled this quick loaf and gave a go it looks great rill let you know how it goes.

    • says

      Hi Heather – it took me a while to realise what you meant by “mother” in the beginning, LOL! :D

      I hope you like it… as long as it all goes to plan I think you won’t be disappointed. It’s my standard “go-to” bread these days… easy as anything :)

  23. says

    I had a similar eureeka moment with pizza dough recently also due to partly being lazy LOL. Posting the recipe very shortly.

    Your photo of the bread does look delicious so will try this soon, thanks.

    Unable to answer any queries though I’m afraid. How cares if it works that’s all I knead to know (excuse the pun).

  24. Mme Davies says

    Thank you so much for this recipe! We made this at school today with 100 five-year-olds and it worked perfectly! The kids were very impressed and the left overs went down very well at the staff meeting after school.

    • says

      Oh! I’m so pleased. It’s always lovely to hear when people have made my recipes… especially so in this case knowing that 100 kids got to try their hand at it… that’s awesome!

      Thanks so much for dropping by and letting me know :)

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