No-Knead Crusty White Bread, our 2016 Recipe of the Year, is one of the most popular recipes on our website. And with good reason: I daresay millions of bakers around the country have made bread using this simple technique since it first popped up on the culinary landscape over 10 years ago.

If you're a devoté of no-knead bread, and haven't yet branched out into other interesting iterations – it's time to start. Prepare your dough as usual. Then, just before shaping, think how you might tweak the flavor with add-ins – and let your imagination run wild.

Do you love the cranberry-pecan bread at your local artisan bakery? Work those two simple ingredients into your plain dough. How about toasted walnuts and a handful of crumbled Maytag blue? Or bake up a take on pizza, with diced pepperoni and cubed mozzarella.

Need some inspiration for personalizing your own loaves? Check out our no-knead bread three ways.

No-Knead Bread Variations via @kingarthurflour

Here's our basic dough: mixed, risen, refrigerated, and ready to scoop and shape.

No-Knead Bread Variations via @kingarthurflour

Cheddar and Jalapeño No-Knead Bread

 

1. Scoop out a handful of dough.

You'll use about 1/3 of the dough (about 19 ounces) for each loaf you're making.

Look at those absolutely beautiful strands of gluten! And this is strictly from a short mix, and long, slow rise in the fridge.

I mean, it's like instead of cleaning up your kitchen at the end of the day, you cast some magic spell at night, go to bed, and next day – presto, your kitchen is a picture-perfect magazine spread of neatness. (Would that it were so...)

No-Knead Bread Variations via @kingarthurflour

2. Prepare your add-ins.

I'm using 4 ounces diced cheddar cheese, and one small (3") jalapeño pepper, seeded and sliced.

BTW, have you tried Cabot's new cheddars? Oh, my... SO good. And, here's something I didn't know: like all Cabot cheddars, they're lactose-free – perfect for those with lactose intolerance.

No-Knead Bread Variations via @kingarthurflour

3. Knead everything into the sticky dough.

Oil or flour your work surface to keep sticking to a minimum.

No-Knead Bread Variations via @kingarthurflour

4. Shape the dough into a log.

Flour the top of the dough; this will help keep it moist as it rises, and make a pretty crust.

No-Knead Bread Variations via @kingarthurflour

5. Let the dough rise.

Let the dough warm up and rise for 1 to 2 hours; there's no need to cover it. It won't so much rise as expand and settle. Which is fine; it'll "pick up" when it hits the hot oven.

Preheat your oven to 450°F while the loaf rises. If you're using a baking stone – which will help give your bread super-crisp crust and light texture – position it on a middle rack while the oven preheats.

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. You're going to use the hot water to create steam in the oven, which will give the bread's crust a pretty sheen, as well as increase its crackly crustiness.

No-Knead Bread Variations via @kingarthurflour

6. Make 2 or 3 diagonal slashes in the top of the loaf.

Don't hold back: be quick and bold with that sharp knife (or lame)! Your bread will appear to deflate a bit; instead of wringing your hands, quickly shove it into the hot oven – onto the baking stone, if you're using one, or simply onto a middle rack, if it's on a pan.

Carefully pour 1 cup hot water into the shallow pan on the rack beneath. It'll bubble and steam; close the oven door quickly.

No-Knead Bread Variations via @kingarthurflour

7. Bake.

Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, until it's a deep, golden brown. Remove it from the oven, and cool on a rack.

That's it. Enjoy!

Check out the other variations I made –

No-Knead Bread Variations via @kingarthurflour

Greek Olive and Feta No-Knead Bread

Here's a loaf with mixed (pitted) Greek-style olives and feta cheese – about 1 1/2 cups total, your choice as to the amount of each. Kalamata or oil-cured black olives are both good; don't use anything too juicy.

No-Knead Bread Variations via @kingarthurflour

Cinnamon-Raisin No-Knead Bread

How do you get the swirl in this bread? Knead in 3/4 cup golden raisins, then sprinkle your work surface heavily with cinnamon sugar. Place the dough atop the cinnamon sugar and give it a few quick kneads and turns. It'll pick up a very faint swirl in the middle, and be fairly heavily coated with cinnamon sugar on the outside.

No-Knead Bread Variations via @kingarthurflour

At the end of the day, here's what became of our bucket of no-knead dough (l to r): olive and feta; cinnamon swirl-golden raisin, and cheddar jalapeño loaves.

Now go forth and create!

Have you experimented with tweaking your no-knead bread recipe? Share your innovations in "comments," below.

PJ Hamel
The Author

About PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!