Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread from the New York Times

A well-floured loaf!The No-Knead Bread recipe from Mark Bittman – aka the New York Times’ Minimalist – is one of those recipes that has taken on a life of its own. Published in the newspaper in 2006, it still keeps cropping up on other people‘s blogs and, finally – it was on my list of recipes-to-try for ages – I’ve gotten around to making it.

The first time I used this recipe was three days before our wedding. Awake at 4am one morning, I thought it was a good time to start the 18-hour proving (it sure beat writing wedding preparation lists!) so I threw the ingredients into a bowl and forgot about it until 6pm that evening. We were on our way to the airport to collect the Husband’s Cousin, so it got a quick shaping and was abandoned while we whizzed down to Cork, collected the HC, and brought him home. While they brought the bags into the house, I ran ahead to turn on the cooker and start preheating my cast iron casserole – I don’t think the bread came out of the oven until midnight but it was certainly worth waiting for. It had a gorgeous, crackly crust, (although somewhat over-floured by yours truly, panicking after trying to shape the wet, shaggy dough) and firm, chewy crumb. We ate it the following morning for breakfast and I was looking forward to trying it toasted – until I landed almost the entire loaf in a sink full of washing-up water as we raced around, getting ready to leave for another airport trip!

Friday night, after we arrived at the cottage, I started the bread mixture, this time substituting one cup of rye flour for one of strong flour. As I wandered off to nearby Longueville House for an indulgent, and prolonged, lunch with the Kerryman’s mother, the Husband had to step into the breach for the final shaping although I did make it home for the cooking. This time round, I kept it safe from the sink, we enjoyed the loaf over three meals and it is fabulous toasted, especially when rubbed with a clove of garlic and drizzled with a little olive oil.

For the recipe, I’ll refer you to the New York Times. I cook it in my 29cm oval cast iron casserole and these are the proportions that I use:
2 cups strong flour
1 cup rye flour
1 sachet instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt

Update 31/07/07: For a great step-by-step picture guide of how to make this bread go here and Clotilde has adapted the recipe for the metric world over on Chocolate and Zucchini – but, I have to reiterate this, be very careful when you’re transferring the dough to the pan to the cooker. It is VERY HOT (last weekend’s lovely oven-shelf-shaped blister on my arm is now finally healing after lavish amounts of aloe vera).

Caroline

Caroline

Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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10 Responses

  1. Deborah says:

    Sounds really interesting Caroline. Will have to try it. I wish someone would come up with a no-proof yeast bread! 😉 I don’t mind the kneading, in fact sometimes it’s the only exercise I get!

  2. barbara says:

    I wasn’t happy with my attempts. I’ve been thinking about trying it again. I like the addition of the rye flour.

  3. Caroline says:

    I know what you mean, Deborah. I enjoy kneading normally but my current kitchen(s) don’t have any suitable work surfaces so it’s just easier to do it this way!I’m not a plain white bread fan so that’s why I normally do a little meandering around with recipes like this. I’ve found it difficult to source strong wholemeal bread flour so haven’t been able to go the wholemeal direction but I do like the slightly sour flavour that the the rye flour gives to the bread.

  4. Adam Fields says:

    I got great results by doubling the Times recipe and using a 9-qt cast iron dutch oven.

  5. Caroline says:

    Do you stick to the same timings, Adam?

  6. hmmm i’ve been in a baking mood gotta try this.. hey, regarding your comment on Cacao Sampaka of Barcelona, my mum just got some cocoa powder as presents – both the regular dark ones and the super rich and thick ones you make with just milk. I’m sure she flew across the continents to Asia with a heavenly-scented suitcase as well, I’d have to ask her!

  7. Caroline says:

    What a great present to get! When my sister and I were wandering around Barcelona, our noses literally led us to that little shop…my credit card didn’t escape unscathed and now I just wish that I brought more back! Let me know how you get on with the No-Knead Bread. Think I might try Adam’s suggestion, next time, and double my loaf size.

  8. Adam Fields says:

    Yes, exact same timings, just twice as much of everything.

  9. Caroline says:

    Tried a double mixture, as you suggested, last weekend, Adam, but it nearly bested me! The mixture was fairly runny that time and it took off all over the counter – even my dough scraper could hardly keep up. Although I did lose some of it, what I managed to scrape together and bake was fabulous. Great to have a larger loaf for a change, though – it was still good toasted after four or five days.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I tried that bread and I must say that it didn’t seem to be so good and delicious as it is said to be. For me, it seemed like a normal piece of bread.

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