Crusty, No-Knead Artisan Bread

Crusty, beautiful bread that's EASY to make!


There has been a rise (so to speak) in the popularity of “no-knead” bread recipes among bakers in recent years. Which is no surprise, given that this technique allows the home baker to make beautiful, crusty, flavorful loaves…. with an absolute minimum of effort, as the name suggests!

 This recipe, which I used to make the loaves above, is adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François. Their book is definitely worth checking out, for many excellent and simple bread recipes!

(Recipe as published on the King Arthur Flour website.)

• 3 cups lukewarm water
• 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour*
• 1 tablespoon salt
• 1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast

Directions
*The flour/liquid ratio is important in this recipe. If you measure flour by sprinkling it into your measuring cup, then gently sweeping off the excess, use 7 1/2 cups. If you measure flour by dipping your cup into the canister, then sweeping off the excess, use 6 1/2 cups. Most accurate of all, and guaranteed to give you the best results, if you measure flour by weight, use 32 ounces.
1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, or a large (6-quart), food-safe plastic bucket. For first-timers, “lukewarm” means about 105°F, but don’t stress over getting the temperatures exact here. Comfortably warm is fine; “OUCH, that’s hot!” is not. Yeast is a living thing; treat it nicely.
2. Mix and stir everything together to make a very sticky, rough dough. If you have a stand mixer, beat at medium speed with the beater blade for 30 to 60 seconds. If you don’t have a mixer, just stir-stir-stir with a big spoon or dough whisk till everything is combined.
3. Next, you’re going to let the dough rise. If you’ve made the dough in a plastic bucket, you’re all set — just let it stay there, covering the bucket with a lid or plastic wrap; a shower cap actually works well here. If you’ve made the dough in a bowl that’s not at least 6-quart capacity, transfer it to a large bowl; it’s going to rise a lot. There’s no need to grease the bowl, though you can if you like; it makes it a bit easier to get the dough out when it’s time to bake bread.
4. Cover the bowl or bucket, and let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 hours. Then refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, or for up to about 7 days. (If you’re pressed for time, skip the room-temperature rise, and stick it right into the fridge). The longer you keep it in the fridge, the tangier it’ll get; if you chill it for 7 days, it will taste like sourdough. Over the course of the first day or so, it’ll rise, then fall. That’s OK; that’s what it’s supposed to do.
5. When you’re ready to make bread, sprinkle the top of the dough with flour; this will make it easier to grab a hunk. Grease your hands, and pull off about 1/4 to 1/3 of the dough — a 14-ounce to 19-ounce piece, if you have a scale. It’ll be about the size of a softball, or a large grapefruit.
6. Plop the sticky dough onto a floured work surface, and round it into a ball, or a longer log. Don’t fuss around trying to make it perfect; just do the best you can.
7. Place the dough on a piece of parchment (if you’re going to use a baking stone); or onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sift a light coating of flour over the top; this will help keep the dough moist as it rests before baking.
8. Let the dough rise for about 45 to 60 minutes. It won’t appear to rise upwards that much; rather, it’ll seem to settle and expand. Preheat your oven (and baking stone, if you’re using one) to 450°F while the dough rests. Place a shallow pan on the lowest oven rack, and have 1 cup of hot water ready to go.
9. When you’re ready to bake, take a sharp knife and slash the bread 2 or 3 times, making a cut about 1/2″ deep. The bread may deflate a bit; that’s OK, it’ll pick right up in the hot oven.
10. Place the bread in the oven, and carefully pour the 1 cup hot water into the shallow pan on the rack beneath. It’ll bubble and steam; close the oven door quickly.
11. Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, until it’s a deep, golden brown.
12. Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack. Store leftover bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.
13. Yield: 3 or 4 loaves, depending on size.

10 comments to Crusty, No-Knead Artisan Bread

  • chris Gavriel

    So, since you give the flower in ounces, how many fluid ounces for water?
    Thanks

  • SF

    Good question… the quantity for this recipe – 3 cups – is 24fl oz of water. (1 cup= 8 fl oz.) Thanks! SF

  • Wow, what thorough and thoughtful directions! I never knew you could make a sourdough-y bread simply by leaving the dough in the fridge for a week– that’s going on my to do list for sure!

  • michelle

    does it have to be king arthur flour? i’ve never heard of it before and i dont know if i can get it in my grocery store.

  • SF

    Hi, Michelle –

    No, it needn’t be King Arthur, you can use any flour you like. king Arthur really has an excellent line of products, though, so if you can find it I highly recommend trying it. (their website has a list of retailers, as well as an online store and a Ron of excellent recipes: http://www.kingarthurflour.com)

    Eat well.
    SF

  • Catherine

    Hi, I only have active dry yeast, and only two packets of it…. Can I substitute that for the instant yeast? How would that affect the rise time? This is my first time making bread! Thanks!

  • SF

    Hi, Catherine -
    The short answer is, yes. But because I have limited knowledge of the nuances of yeast, I’m going to refer you to this very useful site for the specifics: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/faqs/baking/yeast

    Have fun, and let me know how it turns out!

    Eat well.
    SF

  • I made this a week or so ago and now I have bookmarked this page because I wanted to make it again and almost didn’t find it. I LOVE IT!

  • SF

    I’m glad you enjoyed it, isn’t it wonderful and easy???

  • Qing

    Thank you for this blog entry! I came across it from googling ‘crusty bread recipe’ and loved the picture and how your instructions are so clear and no-fuss. I have used a couple of other no knead crusty bread recipes before but was not 100% happy with the outcome. So I decided to try this out and I am so glad I did! I used a scale to measure the flour to be accurate and made it with all-purpose flour. The result was outstanding. My family of 3 ate a whole first loaf! :) Thank you!

    Have you tried the recipe with whole wheat flour? I want to experiment blending in some whole wheat. My experience is that whole wheat tends to require a little more water, so I guess I could try with slight modifications. Just wondering if you’ve had any experiences to share.

    Thank you again!

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