No-knead bread

The easiest hand-made bread you'll ever bake.

Vegan. Hands-on time: 10 mins. Total time: 24 hours.

Contributed by Mike Lewis (February 2010).

No-knead bread

Photo © Veg World

Have you ever wanted to make bread the traditional way - that is, without using an automatic bread-maker - but been put off by the effort involved, especially all that tedious kneading? If so, this recipe is for you. It makes a superb loaf with almost no effort. I mean that literally. You scarcely have to touch the dough, let alone knead it, and the results are truly excellent.

What's the catch? In a word: time. It could take anything up to 24 hours between the initial mixing of the dough and taking the finished bread from the oven. Of course, that's not 24 hours of your time. The actual hands-on time is about ten minutes. Even so, this recipe clearly calls for a little advanced planning.

You can use almost any type of bread flour for the recipe. I get best results using either white flour or a half-and-half mixture of white and wheatmeal, but you can also add rye or malthouse flour into the mix if you wish. And feel free to add any seeds you have to hand - pumpkin, sesame, linseed and sunflower seeds, in any combination, can only improve this excellent loaf.

The yeast must be the instant or fast-acting variety - not the type that you activate in warm water.

This recipe will make one large loaf, or you can double the quantities to make two loaves. Unfortunately, the recipe isn't suitable for making bread rolls, as the dough is too loose and wouldn't retain its shape.



Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Stir with a fork or spoon until the flour is fully coated with the water, but don't beat or knead. Don't worry if the mixture is on the wet side - this is normal.

Cover the bowl with a towel and leave the dough to rise until it has roughly doubled in size. This could take anything from 12 to 18 hours, depending on the temperature of the room. The timing isn't critical. No harm will be done if it rises too much or not quite enough.

At the end of the rising time, take a large wooden spoon or spatula and use it to give the dough a quick stir. The aim is to release the trapped air. Again, don't beat or knead. Then transfer the dough to an oiled baking tin. If the dough is too wet to handle, simply pour it into the tin, using the spoon or spatula to scrap any remaining pieces from the sides of the bowl.

Leave the dough to rise again. This time it will be much faster: about two hours or so, again depending on the temperature. It will be ready when it's near the top of the tin.

Pre-heat the oven to 400F (200C). When it's hot, put the tin in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes. Then turn the loaf upside down in the tin and bake for a further 20 minutes or so. The bread will be ready when it's brown all over and sounds hollow when you tap it. If in doubt, leave it for a little longer: too much baking is better than too little in this case.

Finally, turn the loaf out onto a wire rack, and leave it to cool before serving.

Note on quantities and temperatures:
Quantities are given in American (cups), imperial (oz, fl oz) and metric (g, ml) units. Do not mix the units - use one or other system throughout the recipe.
See also How much does a cup weigh?
oz = ounces, fl oz = fluid ounces, g = grams, ml = milliliters, tsp = teaspoons, tbsp = tablespoons.
Oven temperatures are given in degrees F (Fahrenheit) and C (Celsius).
For fan-assisted ovens, reduce the temperature by 20F or 10C.