No-Knead Crusty White Bread

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dairy free, quick-n-easy
Recipe photo
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 3 or 4 loaves, depending on size

Recipe photo

The most basic of all no-knead loaves, this is a wonderful way to get into yeast-bread baking. The easy stir-together dough rests in your refrigerator, developing flavor all the time, till you're ready to bake. About 90 minutes before you want to serve bread, grab a handful of dough, shape it, let it rise, then bake for 30 minutes. The result? Incredible, crusty artisan-style bread. If you're a first-time bread-baker, you'll never believe this bread came out of your own oven. if you're a seasoned yeastie, you'll love this recipe's simplicity.

This particular recipe was the favorite of David W. Perfetti, a passionate, long-time King Arthur Flour fan. "He would try to bake bread every weekend with his wife, Margaret. One time Margaret took him to Vermont for a King Arthur baking class for the celebration of a holiday and he indicated to her that was the best present she could ever get him," noted one of his colleagues, Jeri Adams. "He had the career of an attorney, but a hobby as a baker. He was a great man," she added. David unfortunately passed away in 2012; we've decided to dedicate this recipe to David, in his memory.

No-Knead Crusty White Bread

star rating (386) rate this recipe »
dairy free, quick-n-easy
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 3 or 4 loaves, depending on size
Published: 01/01/2010

Ingredients

  • 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

Tips from our bakers

  • Our thanks to Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François, whose wonderful book, "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day," is the inspiration for this recipe.

Directions

see this recipe's blog »

*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 metal or cast iron pan (not glass, Pyrex, or ceramic) 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.

Nutrition information

Serving Size: 1 slice Servings Per Batch: 12 per loaf Amount Per Serving: Calories: 100 cal Calories from Fat: 5 Total Fat: 0g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 220mg Total Carbohydrate: 20g Dietary Fiber: 1g Sugars: 0g Protein: 4g

* The nutrition information provided for this recipe is determined by the ESHA Genesis R&D software program. Substituting any ingredients may change the posted nutrition information.

Reviews

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  • star rating 05/01/2015
  • Jenny Mertes from Maricopa, Arizona
  • Not only easy and quick but tasty enough for me to abandon all other homemade bread recipes and even favorite store-bought artisan loaves and rolls.
  • star rating 04/28/2015
  • Skylar from Atlanta, GA
  • star rating 04/27/2015
  • MommaMia from Iowa
  • I have never enjoyed baking bread. I've attempted it only twice in my life. My husband on the other hand loves bread baking and he's developed some amazing recipes. When he told me about this recipe I thought it sounds like maybe I could handle it. I made the dough on a Friday and he baked the first loaf the following Monday. It was good but a little doughy inside. I baked the second loaf exactly a week after making the dough and reduced the temperature of oven to 375 right after putting it in the oven. It took about 40 minutes to reach an internal temperature of 200 and it was amazing! It was crispy and a bit of chewy on the exterior and inside it was soft but firm. Same results on day 9. The taste was improved at day 7 and day 9. But the taste was good on day 3. We enjoy sourdough so we liked the taste better on day 7 & 9. As for the reviews that complain about the taste, smell or change in color after it's aging I don't think they either like sourdough or never had a true sourdough bread. Or they didn't read the part of the recipe that says "the longer you keep it in the fridge the tangier it will get" We love it and it will be a staple in our home.
  • star rating 04/25/2015
  • member-shaynamay from KAF Community
  • This is the easiest bread to make and it is such a hit! I usually make sourdough (a 2 day process) so it's lovely to have dough in the fridge that's just ready to go. This is delicious and fills the house with the best smell, I also use it to make fresh sandwich rolls for lunch. I'm going to experiment next time with adding some white whole wheat flour, I hope that it works. With all white flour this is a terrifically lofty and tender loaf.
  • star rating 04/23/2015
  • Stephanie from North Ridgeville, OH
  • I made this bread. Couldn't believe I could just mix and not knead. These were a couple of the loaves of bread I've ever made. I made the second loaf probably eight days after the first. The bread was tangy and dense. Just perfect for toasting. Will make this again and again and again.......
  • star rating 04/22/2015
  • Barbara from PA
  • Thanks to the advice from the KAH Baker's Hot Line I successfully halved this recipe. The results were excellent - yielded 2 equal size boules. The recipe as written makes more dough than our household of 2 needs.
  • star rating 04/22/2015
  • Christine from Dagsboro, DE
  • This bread is one of the easiest and most delicious I have ever made and I recommend it to anyone who is a first time bread baker!
  • star rating 04/19/2015
  • Brian from Lakeland, Florida
  • I changed one thing on this recipe after making it, I use the King Arthur bread flour, Not the all purpose flour. The bread is so much better in taste and texture if you use bread flour, and it last longer. This recipe is great I make it every week.
  • star rating 04/18/2015
  • Gail from Arizona
  • Easy to make with a great taste. I do agree with less salt.
  • star rating 04/16/2015
  • Christina from New york
  • I wanted to love this recipe because it would seem to provide freshly baked bread that just got more complex in flavor as the days went by. My first loaf on day one and five hours combined room temp and refrigerator rise had a very nice crust straight from the oven. As it cooled it lost the crust. The flavor was lacking but still very edible to slice and toast. The second loaf was baked three days later and it tasted off, like partially brewed beer, not like sour dough. Not a fan. A bit of a shame as it is great in theory to be able to bake at will with little prep.
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