No-Knead Bread

Breadmaking for nonbakers

Bread is my favorite food, but I’m no baker. I hadn’t been one, at least, before a friend showed me the well-known New York Times video of Jim Lahey going through the remarkably simple steps of the no-knead approach to breadmaking. Mix the ingredients; let the resulting dough sit for 18 hours; fold; bake. That’s it. The resulting bread has a crunchy, thick crust, soft, chewy interior and excellent flavor.

No-knead bread is baking for nonbakers, perhaps also for skilled bakers too busy to bother with more labor-intensive approaches. This process requires so little effort but yields a beautiful, satisfying, delicious creation. It’s really not much harder than making toast.

Since learning this technique, I’ve begun baking bread at least twice a week, finding the process as fun as it is a pleasure not having to buy inferior bread from the market. I’ve also used resources such as Breadtopia.com to refine my recipe and experiment with different ingredients. It’s given me the confidence to try more complex recipes.

Most, if not all, of the fundamental baking tools necessary for making no-knead bread will likely already be around your kitchen. If not, Breadtopia is one of many sources for the tools you’ll need to give it a try. I use a Lodge cast iron Dutch oven that’s been in the family for ages, a very cool tool. The web offers many resources regarding no-knead breadmaking, and I hope Cool Tools readers will share their favorites in the comments, but the NYT video is the best I’ve seen, especially as a starting point for novices, thanks to its utter simplicity.

-- Elon Schoenholz 01/18/10

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