No Knead No More

Well, it started out okay…

Bread Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, Yeast and Salt

Bread Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, Yeast and Salt

I had made a New York Times No Knead Bread a while back, but hadn’t attempted one recently. If memory serves, the crust was perfect but the crumb (inside of the bread) was chewier than I preferred. I just hadn’t gotten around to doing another one.

Seeing as we had the Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 Chinese New Year Cioppino post coming up, I got the crazy idea to make my own bread to go along with the cioppino. When I watched Chef John from make a No Knead Ciabatta Bread recipe a couple of weeks back , I thought this would make the perfect occasion to try doing No Knead Bread again. The whole appeal of this type of recipe is, it’s simple enough for a non-baker like me to make at home without a lot of effort.

No Knead Bread Recipe

Adapted from


375 grams bread flour
120 grams whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups warm water

Mixing Flour, Salt, Yeast and Water for No Knead Bread

Mixing Flour, Salt, Yeast and Water for No Knead Bread

Covered it with foil and let it sit in the oven (at room temperature) for 18 hours. The dough was very bubbly, soft, wet, sticky, and “gluten strand-ified“.  So far, so good.

No Knead Dough After First Rise

No Knead Dough After First Rise

Here’s Where I Think it Went Wrong

According to the recipe, you’re supposed to drizzle a little olive oil in a sheet pan and then sprinkle on lots of corn meal. I think I drizzled too much olive oil, and dumped on even more corn meal. Also, I think I didn’t use the right kind of corn meal. This one was more like flour instead of the coarse, grainy type you see used for pizza dough recipes

No Knead Ciabatta Dough on Sheet Pan

No Knead Ciabatta Dough on Sheet Pan

I covered it with a clean towel and let it rest, forgetting that I was supposed to flour the top of the dough first. Two hours later, the towel was sticking to the dough and I had to carefully separate it like gauze from an oozing burn wound (ick!) Not pretty.

I put it in a 425*F oven for 35 minutes, with another pan of water on the bottom rack to create steam. Here’s what it looked like when I pulled it out. I had high hopes.

No Knead Ciabatta Bread

No Knead Ciabatta Bread

After letting it cool down, I cut into it. Then I took a bite.  Hmm…

Sliced No Knead Ciabatta Bread

Sliced No Knead Ciabatta Bread

Like the other no knead bread that I did, the crust was very nice, but the inside was kinda tough and chewy. In fact, the bottom of the bread seemed to be undercooked. I was not happy with the way the bread turned out, so I decided to not serve it for the cioppino dinner and went with bread done by professionals.

At dinner, Michael of Cooking for Engineers confirmed that he, too, was not impressed by the No Knead Bread recipe. He had made a dozen loaves as research for an article, but he ended up not writing it because he was not happy with his results. Carolyn the Food Gal encouraged him to write about his results anyway. We’ll see.

I am not saying that the No Knead Bread recipe is bad. I’m certainly not blaming Chef John’s recipe for my poor results. People all over seem to have success with the recipe. But going 0 for 2 makes it hard for me to consider another attempt.

Have you had success with the No Knead Bread recipe? I’d love to hear your experiences. Leave a comment and tell us about it!

Aloha, Nate

21 thoughts on “No Knead No More”

  1. >Annie, the bread looks very good. I too am on a bread making kick and I swear by the “artisan bread in five minutes” book.

    You can enter to win a copy on my blog.

  2. >So THAT’s No Knead bread… I keep reading about it but have never actually seen the recipe or a photo…
    I think I’d rather knead than have it raising in the oven for that long… but I’m usually in a hurry ;-)) And kneading is good for the forearms (I take my exercise where I can get it.)
    Your bread looks pretty!

  3. >Hmmmmm…I LOVE that NYT no-knead bread and make it fairly often. I love the spongy, chewy texture.

    As for this loaf, it LOOKS great! I’m sorry you didn’t like it and had a bad experience with the recipe. I’m going to bookmark this post so I can try it out myself. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  4. >I love the No Knead Bread. I use the recipe posted in the New York Times a couple of years ago, and I thought one of the keys was to bake it in a vessel with a lid (like a Dutch oven), to keep the steam in, and keep the heat higher. I’ve made a half dozen different versions of it, and they’ve all turned out great.

  5. >This look wonderful! I love whole grain breads……….we just made your cream scone…….wonderful…….we will link you on our blog when we post the recipe and picture….


  6. >Hmm, I loved the no knead recipe posted in the NYT and I have been making the faster version a lot lately, but I do love that chewy interior so maybe that is why. Sorry you didn’t have much luck with this recipe, but like the others said, it LOOKS good.

  7. >I am so glad you guys wrote about this, and I hope Mike the Engineer does, too. As I mentioned to you guys at dinner that night, I thought it was so fascinating that you both were not high on the no-knead bread technique. After all, I had yet to try it, but had heard raves from media and home-cooks. Nice to know, though that this particular recipe may not be all it’s cracked up to be. I still hope to try making it one day, but at least I’m prepared now if it doesn’t come out exactly as I had hoped.

  8. >I’ve had that NYTimes recipe sitting around for ages. I keep thinking “some day” but I’m still so intimidated by bread baking, I’ve never gotten around to it.

  9. >you and your family need to move to san diego. and then open up a bakery next door to me. and make sure that i’m the first in line! 😀

  10. >Hey! What the hell is wrong with you guys! 😉

    Okay, that’s it. I’m coming over for a no knead guest blogging event.

    We’ll make it together and you can photo an blog about how you now love no-knead bread, and will never make it any other way.

    I can’t let you just give up on this amazing bread. Did you see all those photos people sent in to me… they ain’t photoshoped! This could be fun, let me know.

    Cheers, CJ

  11. >btw, IMHO, the fact the towel wasn’t floured, and you had to peel it off the loaf after it proofed, was really the only thing that went astray. When you peeled it off the loaf deflated and that’s what caused the flatter denser texture. Otherwise it would have been beautiful, I’m sure.

  12. >@all – thanks again for your comments! We really appreciate it.

    @Peter – thanks for the heads up about the giveaway. I’ve entered…crossing my fingers!

    @katiez – thanks, wish it tasted as good as it looked.

    @Wandering Coyote – come to think of it, maybe the chewiness is due to the long rise time, developing more gluten.

    @JS – take good notes.

    @Elkit – One thing that Michael said was that it didn’t really matter what kind of pot you used. Apparently, steam helps create the good crust. Which is why I had a pan of water on the bottom rack.

    @Hannah – thanks, I’m glad you like the scones recipe!

    @Esi – faster version?

    @duodishes – Okay, we’ll give it a shot…when the time is right.

    @Carolyn – Don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming the recipe. I think that maybe I’m doing it right, but just not liking the results.

    @Mrs L – it’s a relatively cheap recipe, so you don’t lose much if it doesn’t come out to your liking.

    @Pearl – thanks, you’re too kind! Hmm….San Diego is a nice place…

    @Chef John – We’d be honored to have you come to our humble kitchen.

    Thanks for the analysis. That makes me feel better. Not that I forgot that important step, but that it is correctable.

  13. >You should keep trying it – tweak the quantities/temperatures/rising times andyou should end up with an excellent loaf. Promise!

  14. >@Alex – thanks for the encouragement!

    @Robert – The waiting part I can do. I’m not so keen on the kneading. But who knows? That may change.

  15. >I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  16. I know this is over a year since you posted this blog, but I thought I’d suggest that you lower your oven temperature by 25 degrees F since it looks like you are using a dark pan.

  17. Well … I just finished eating the first piece of the bread.

    Guys….I’m in love. My husband says it’s the BEST bread I ever made and wants me to make another loaf tomorrow to bring with us to our fourth of july celebration. OMGoodness

    The only thing I did different was this:

    I set my oven on 450 (it runs hot)

    I didn’t have a covered dish like shown in the video, BUT I did have a covered clay pot (the kind used for cooking) (cloche).

    I followed the direction from the NYTimes perfectly to make the dough … but INSTEAD of putting it on a towel peppered with cornmeal or wheat bran, I used my cloche.

    I did soak the clay vessel for 1/2 hour. Then poured out the water. Instead of putting the dough into a screaming hot vessel like suggested in the recipe I oiled the clay pot, laid a piece of parchment down and set my dough in. I placed the dough in the cold CLAY POT turned on the oven to 450 and walked away for 30 minutes. AFter 30 minutes uncovered the clay pot and baked for another 10 minutes.

    The bread was exquisite. We ate it without it cooling off. We finished 95% of the loaf. We ate it with butter, olive oil and pepper. It was just such a treat. I asked my husband not to eat the very last of it because I wanted to see what it looked like cooled off. Now it’s cool and I’m telling you I just can’t believe I made this bread. I would have paid $5.00 for it in a store, and it cost me whatever 3 cups of flour, 1/4 teaspoon of yeast cost. This will be my new Saturday routine … fresh bread for Sunday. “Thank you so very much Sullivan Street Bakery Bread”. Now I have to go exercise. “Laaaaaaaa” !

  18. I’m on my 12th loaf (and I’m No baker) of no-knead ciabatta. It has always come out looking and tasting amazing! I don’t know where some others’ have gone wrong with their bread. I’ve had great results! My family and friends love it! Thank you, Chef John!

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