Absolutely No-Knead Crusty-Chewy Bread

This incredibly easy recipe is perfect for anyone who’s never baked yeast bread. All you need to make this high-rising, crusty-chewy loaf are four simple ingredients (flour, water, salt, and yeast) and four basic tools (a bowl, a spoon, a covered crock or casserole, and a hot oven). Really!

Prep
15 mins
Bake
50 mins
Total
12 hrs 35 mins
Yield
1 round loaf
Absolutely No-Knead Crusty-Chewy Bread

Instructions

  1. First thing to do when baking this bread? Decide on a timeframe. The dough is stirred together; rests for 10 hours; is put into the crock; rises for 2 hours, and bakes for 45 minutes. So that's just under 13 hours. It's a good weekend bread; stir it together Friday night at about 10 p.m.; scoop it into the crock about 8 a.m. Saturday; bake about 10 a.m., and your bread will be baked, cooled, and ready to slice for sandwiches by noon. Or get up early on Saturday to stir up the dough at 6 a.m.; put it into the crock at 4 p.m.; bake at 6 p.m., and serve fresh and hot from the oven at 7 p.m.

  2. Next step: Be sure you have something to bake the bread in, namely a 4- to 4 1/2-quart round, deep covered crock, Dutch oven, or casserole dish. It must be oven-safe (obviously); it really does need a lid, and it has to be deep enough (about 4") to create a tall loaf of bread.

  3. To make the dough: Place all of the ingredients in a large, 3- to 4-quart bowl. Stir to combine. At first the dough will stick to the spoon and follow it around the bowl. But once all the flour is completely absorbed (after about 10 seconds of vigorous stirring), the dough will become softer and stick to the sides of the bowl. That's it; you're done stirring.

  4. Cover the bowl, and set the dough aside to rest at cool room temperature for 10 to 12 hours. If it's very hot and humid, leave it in the cellar, or in an air-conditioned room; someplace that's about 68°F to 70°F is ideal.

  5. After the rest, the dough should be very bubbly and will have risen quite a bit. Grease your chosen crock with non-stick vegetable oil spray, then sprinkle with cornmeal. Be sure it's well-coated; the last thing you want is for the baked bread to stick in the crock.

  6. Gently stir the dough down. Iit'll look like a very thick batter, almost gelatinous; scoop it into the greased crock. Add the lid and let the dough rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours at cool room temperature. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 450°F.

  7. Peek at the dough before putting it in the oven; it should be very bubbly and nicely risen. If you don't think it's risen enough, give it some more time. If it rose too much, then fell, bake it anyway; it'll be dense, but chewy and flavorful. Note that the bread won't rise any farther once it's in the oven; what you see is what you get. It also won't dome, but instead will form a flat top surface.

  8. To bake the bread: Bake the bread for 45 minutes with the lid on. Remove the lid and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until the top is a deep golden brown. Remove the crock from the oven, and turn the bread out onto a rack to cool.

  9. Store completely cool bread, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

Tips from our Bakers

  • It's best not to slice into this loaf until it's just barely warm; slicing hot bread makes it irretrievably gummy. When fresh, the crust is crisp, and the interior chewy; as it rests, the crust will gradually become chewy, as well. If desired, refresh slices in a toaster; or wrap gently in foil, and warm for 5 to 10 minutes in a preheated 350°F oven.