We started making bread at home when one of our favorite shops stopped making the type of bread we preferred — a crusty loaf with an airy middle. After searching for recipes and a fair amount of experimentation, we found that this recipe works best for us. We make it several times a week, with an extra loaf or two before friends come over for dinner. It’s always a hit!
- Yield One 1 loaf of bread (1/2 lb.)
- Time 1 hour 30 minutes, plus about 20 hours’ resting time
This recipe is largely based on Mark Bittman’s original No-Knead bread recipe, one of the most popular recipes The Times has ever published, courtesy of Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery (here’s the recipe link: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/11376-no-knead-bread).
While Mark Bittman’s original recipe did not require any kneading, the bread becomes airier when a small amount of kneading is done during the 20+ hour fermentation process. See my variations on this great original Bittman recipe below.
- 45 minutes, plus 20+ hour fermentation
Ingredients if Using Active Dry Yeast
- 430 grams all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
- (I use SAF, which is recommended by King Arthur Baking Company: https://shop.kingarthurbaking.com/items/saf-red-instant-yeast)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 390 ml tepid water (I use my kitchen scale to weigh the water as I pour it into the bowl with the flour, salt, and yeast. One ml of water weighs 1 gram, so it’s easy.)
NOTE: If you are making this with all whole-wheat flour, use 420 ml of water, because the whole wheat flour needs a bit more water.
Ingredients if Using Live Sourdough Starter
If you are using a live sourdough starter (lievito madre), you need to “play” a little bit with adding the water.
Start with the all-purpose flour and the salt:
- 300 grams all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
Use a whisk to mix the all-purpose flour and salt in a bowl. Then, using damp hands, add the 150 grams of lievito madre.
- 150 g of active starter
- 300 – 325 ml tepid water (the amount of water depends on the consistency of the live sourdough starter, so you need to to play with it a little bit).
Mix gently with damp hands, adding tepid water until it reaches a sticky, shaggy consistency. You are now ready to follow the next steps, which are the same whether you use the active dry or lievito madre.
- In a large glass or metal bowl combine flour, yeast, and salt. Use a whisk to mix the dry ingredients thoroughly.
- Add the tepid water (120° – 130° F) and stir until blended; the dough will be shaggy and sticky.
- Cover the bowl with a tight-fitting lid. Let the dough rise at room temperature until it has doubled in volume.
- Remove the lid, wet your hands with warm water from the kitchen faucet, and then pull the dough from the outside edge to the middle. Rotate the bowl as you pull until you have rotated the bowl completely around (360-degree rotation), and then quickly flip the dough upside down.
- Let the dough rise another couple of hours in the bowl, then repeat the “pulling” process.
- Cover the bowl and put it into the refrigerator for at least 12 hours. You can keep it in the refrigerator up to 36 hours, but I like it best after 12 hours.
- Remove the bowl from the refrigerator at least 8 – 10 hours before you plan to bake the bread.
- Lightly flour a silicone pad (or an airtight plastic proofing container, which I show in my video) and place the dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold the dough over on itself once or twice. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap (or with the proofing container’s lid) and let it rest about 15 minutes.
- Wet your fingers so that the dough won’t stick to them. Gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Sprinkle the silicone mat/proofing container generously with flour, then put ball down on the silicone pad and dust it with more flour. Cover the container, or loosely place plastic wrap over it if you don’t have a container, allow it to rise at room temperature for 6-8 hours, until you plan to bake it.
- When it is ready, the dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
- At least a half-hour before you plan to bake the bread, heat oven to 450°F. Put a 6-to-8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in the oven as it heats. (This is especially important if you are using a ceramic pan because it will break if it does not heat in the oven from cool to 450°F).
- When the oven is pre-heated, carefully remove the pot from the oven. Wet your hands and quickly and gently lift the dough from the proofing pad and place it directly into the pot. It may look like a mess, but that is okay. Shake the pan once or twice if the dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover the pan/ceramic bowl with its lid and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake another 15 minutes (or so), until the loaf is beautifully browned.
- Cool on a rack.