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Bittman's No-Knead Bread...Wow!

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I can't wait to try this. It may be the answer to my prayers!


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  1. Wow! I have never heard of such a tecnique!

    Even though I love the peace and quiet of my kitchen when it is just me and the yeasty dough I am kneading the recipe's description of the crust is enough!

    I will definatley try this one.


    1. Just logged on to ask a question about this.

      Do you guys think you can make this with a mix of whole wheat, white whole wheat, and soy(only 1/4c) flours? I make 2 loaves of a dense, wheaty bread every week and while i'd like to try Bittman's recipe, I really don't want to be making a white bread. I always also add 1/2c oatmeal, 1/4c millet, 1/4c flax. While i'm satisfied with this, and in fact love it, i'd like to try his method whilst still ending up with something whole wheaty. I'm happy to forego the oats, soy, millet, and flax for a week, but prefer to keep the whole wheat flours.


      7 Replies
      1. re: brownie

        Bittman himself says that "I’ve played with whole-wheat and rye flours, too; the results are fantastic." So I imagine that your mix would be fine. Can't wait to try this technique!

        1. re: TorontoJo

          Do you have the link to see this Video? I would like to see how it looks after the 12 hours.
          Thanking you in Advance
          Im very new on this board and I would like to know if there is a answer to my question and will I be notified by E-Mail

        2. re: brownie

          He writes in that article that wheat and rye flours are fine to use.

          1. re: niki rothman

            yes rye flours are fine BUT they are a little trickier to work with because they make for a stickier denser dough (develops gluten a bit differently) as does whole wheat flour, but rye even more so. you might want to do the standard recipe first so you know what to expect. i find a simple stretching technique i learned on Youtube (Breadtopia) helps my no-knead rye breads.

            i use bittman's no-knead recipe all the time, (he's a god, i do love him!) and i have experimented with all kinds of flours and types of dough (brioche is delightful for a special treat). when i use rye i use NO MORE than 1 cup of rye to two cups of regular wheat flour - i suggest: 1/2 a cup for your first time - a recipe i like to use is -- 1/2 cup rye, 1/2 cup whole wheat, along with 1 cup bread flour, and 1 cup all purpose. using the bread flour along with the rye really helps. bread flour's gluten developing capacity is perfect for bread, but it's pricier and harder to find.

            also - i think the breadtopia guy on Youtube makes the whole process a bit too cumbersome, and he uses too much yeast - BUT, that said - watching his videos helped me learn a lot about the process and gave me the confidence to experiment.

          2. re: brownie

            I have made the bread with 100% whole wheat flour and I have added walnuts, raisins and honey! I also have increased the amount of salt since I found that the plain loaf tasted too bland with the small amount of salt in the original recipe! I also have increased the amount of yeast to 1/2 of a teaspoon instead of 1/4 because I thought that the whole wheat flour might need more "lift"! The results have been spectacular!

            1. re: teadoro

              ditto on the %100 whole wheat needing more lift. again, if i am around the house i like the stretching technique the breadtopia guy uses in one of his recipes (sorry, can't remember which one, but you can find him on Youtube.

              i also love adding honey - but be aware that when you add sugar of any sort (including a bit of beer, or even the vinegar that Lahey suggests to Bittman to help quicken the rising) you will get a darker crust that tends to darken a lot more on the bottom.

              experiment!!! what's the worst that could happen? even if you mess it up your bread will still be better than anything you buy in the store!

          3. Well, I couldn't wait! I didn't have bread flour around, just whole wheat and rye, so I'm trying 2 cups whole wheat + 1 cup rye. I don't see the point of instant yeast, so I dissolved 1/4 tsp regular active dry yeast in the water before adding it. The resulting dough was VERY wet--in fact, more like a batter than a dough; I don't know if it's the difference in flours or that it's actually supposed to be like that.

            I wish Bittman had given the whole-grains version he found "fantastic", since I'd like to know if he used all whole grain flours or just a mix of white and wheat, and in what proportions. Also wish he'd given weights as well as measures, since flour volume can vary widely. I find it much easier and more reliable to throw flour into a bowl on my scale and know I'm using the exact same amount every time. Will report back tomorrow when it's baked!

            5 Replies
            1. re: dixieday2

              please do report!
              TorontoJo--thanks for pointing that out. I've always been told i read too fast!!

              1. re: dixieday2

                Bittman does indicate that his dough was also very wet. Can't wait to find out about your loaf. This whole idea is magnif and Bittman strikes again!

                1. re: oakjoan

                  Watch the video linked in the article. They show the bread at all the important stages so you can see just how wet it is.

                2. re: dixieday2

                  He said you don't have to use bread flour, that AP was OK.

                  1. re: dixieday2

                    re: " I wish Bittman had given the whole-grains version he found "fantastic". "

                    i wished the same thing, but i was around the house for a couple weeks, so i played around with it (see my commnets to Niki above for amounts of flour.

                    these are wet doughs, they're what he calls "shaggy doughs" - but some days the doughs are more shaggy than others. rye doughs are downright sticky.

                    the first time i made the brioche i had a very wet dough - it addled me a bit - but i had followed the recipe and carefully measured. so i set it to rise and worried a bit. THEN, since the flour was still on the counter i tossed together a regular dough, which i can do while sleepwalking i've done it so much, and WOW - that dough was too wet also. well...

                    it was RAINING that day, and that makes a lot of difference. almost a half a cup of flour difference. because it was the first time i made the brioche i wouldn't have known if it was right or not - but because i did the other loaf too - well - my experience told me something else was up. sure enough!

                    good news - even that very wet brioche game out fabulous!

                  2. I couldn't wait either and started a loaf this morning (I also posted a note about it, not realizing that Kagey had already done so!)

                    - Sean

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Sean Dell

                      I'm going to try it tomorrow. It sounds like the answer to our prayers. It would be so great to just be able to whip up such an easy sounding bread - really! I loved it when Bittman said the ancient Egyptians made bread by mixing it with a hoe.

                    2. They mention Le Creuset in the article and show it in the pics. They also mention a 450 degree oven temp, yet the LC "plastic" knobs are only rated to 400 degrees. I don't want to melt mine of course, so are there any suggestions? Has anyone ever had any trouble with LC knobs melting?

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: HaagenDazs

                        By the way, in the video, he mentions a temp of 500 or 515.

                        1. re: yayadave

                          Yikes! 500!? It almost seems like it would burn after 45 minutes to an hour at those temps. I think the safest and easiest bet is to unscrew the knob. That way I won't have to even think about it.

                        2. re: HaagenDazs

                          Btw, maybe they've changed, but current LC knobs are rated oven safe to 450F. And you can unscrew them and plug the hole with foil; you'd need to remove the hot cover with mitts instead, but that is quite workable.

                        3. Try wrapping the knob in heavy duty aluminum foil.It works for me.

                          2 Replies
                            1. re: micki

                              why would foil be a good idea? the knob will still get heated to oven temperature, no?

                            2. Don't miss the VIDEOS!! After the five minute video on this bread making technique, the next one is on pork braised in red wine. You could loose a whole day this way. Now it's eggs pouched in red wine.

                              1. so i read this article and then started a batch. but i have a few questions for you seasoned bread bakers out there.

                                I already felt that wet dough produces better bread, so i have been making a wet dough and kneading it in the bowl of my kichenaid, then letting it rise in the same bowl in the fridge overnight. I'm just curious about the kneading/no kneading thing--is it just that no kneading is easier than kneading, or that no kneading actually produces better bread than kneading?

                                also, what would happen if i let the dough rise for about 12 hours and then put it in the fridge overnight and took it out the next morning, shaped it, and let it rise again? otherwise, my timing will be off and I will be baking bread too early. also, what about letting it rise for 24 hours instead of 18 but in a cooler spot?

                                seems to me the hardest part of this recipe is getting the timing right.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: missmasala

                                  I think the 24 would work in a cooler spot. Give it a go--no great loss if it doesn't work!

                                  I'm wondering if I can do something similar with my sourdough starter. Might try it out...

                                  1. re: Kagey

                                    Bittman says 24 hours is fine in his follow-up "fine-tuning" article.

                                    He also says that using half whole-wheat or other flour works fine.

                                  2. re: missmasala

                                    no kneading is equivalent to kneading if you let it hang out longer (a shorter version of this, anywhere from 15-30 minutes is called an autolyse in bread terms -- originally invented to conserve electricity!). if you do the 12-hr rise at room temp, put it in the fridge (called retarding), divided, shaped it, and did a final proof, that should be fine. also rising for 24 hours in a cooler spot would be fine, but you'll want to increase your yeast amount. once the yeast is activated, it gets used, and with a long, even cool, fermentation, you'll want your yeast to still be somewhat active when you put that dough in the oven.

                                    1. re: missmasala

                                      that works great - yes - put it in the fridge. the breadtopia guy suggests this too.

                                      no-knead is better for a couple of reasons - not just that it's easier - but because the slow rise is what matters, and the small amount of yeast.

                                      bittman/lahey use only 1/4 tsp yeast to 3 cups flour, vs. some others (breadtopia & artisan) who use a whole packet. when the small amount of yeast is allowed to populate over a longer period of time you get a better bread. but - in some weather conditions it takes a really long time to rise, which makes the timing harder.

                                      also - watch your second proofing carefully, because you don't want to let it over-rise. you want to get it in the oven before all the yeast dies and the bread starts to deflate. the dough should still be slightly on the rise - not on the decline when it hits the oven - so you get "oven spring" which makes for the very best bread.

                                    2. I've always made bread this way, with some modifications. I make a sponge the night before: for about 3 pounds of bread, or two substantial loaves, I start the dough with 1/4 tsp. yeast, 3 cups water and 3 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour (King Arthur's or Hecker's.) Stir vigorously 200 strokes with a wooden spoon to get the gluten going, then cover with a damp towel and put in a cool place overnight. The next day, I follow basically all of Mr. Bittman's suggestions. The yeast has had a head start overnight making new yeasties, and the final dough has a better tinge of sourness.

                                      Following the suggestions of Elizabeth David, I usually toast the flours for about 15 minutes in a moderate oven, which gives the bread greater depth of flavor, and I often use about a third of whole wheat flour or graham flour. And sometimes I decide that that really want whole wheat bread loaves, so then I use half ap, half ww. Slow, cool rising is key.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: pitterpatter

                                        That's big news to me about toasting the flour. At what temp? How deep do you spred it out? On a cookie sheet?

                                        1. re: niki rothman

                                          I use half sheet pans at 325 degrees and stir the flour every 5 minutes. By the by, Elizabeth David's "English Bread and Yeast Cookery" is the absolutely definitive book on bread baking.

                                          1. re: pitterpatter

                                            For how long do you toast the flour? What color are you aiming for? I'd be afraid that I would burn the flour and make a huge mess!
                                            But I am intrigued!

                                      2. I was excited by this article too. It's so much fun to try new bread-baking techniques. The only pot I have that might work is an All-Clad stainless 5.5 qt dutch oven. Any reason it wouldn't work? I don't think it has the thermal mass of an enameled or cast-iron pot, but don't know if that's a deal-breaker.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: doctor_mama

                                          It seems that the critical things are high pre-heat and good moisture seal. I don't get the impression that the mass is so important since it goes back in the hot oven.

                                          1. re: doctor_mama

                                            The aluminum pan won't retain heat as well as cast iron, which means that it'll lose heat (despite being preheated) when the cool dough hits it and the bread probably won't crust up as nicely.

                                            1. re: F Schubert

                                              I agree, it probably wouldn't work. The recipe's "heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic)" probably reflects Lahey's experimentation.

                                            2. re: doctor_mama

                                              I used my Calphalon anodized dutch oven and it worked beautifully. Of course, my oven has a pizza stone in it, so that also keeps the temp constant. Use what you've got and see how it comes out.

                                            3. My dough is rising (slowly) as I write. I started it at 1:30 today and will bake tomorrow morning. I have the morning off without my kids weeee!, so it will be nice to bake the loaf. Only problem is - I can't stop checking on it. will keep you posted.

                                              1. There's a book that embraces the no-knead technique; the author also uses very wet batters, usually a sponge made 12 hours ahead and an initial refrigerated rise of 12 hours.

                                                It's called "No Need to Knead: Handmade Italian Breads in 90 Minutes," by Suzanne Dunaway. The title is a bit misleading, in that the book starts off with recipes for Italian breads, but also covers many others, ever IIRC a few quickbreads, and while she gives quick options for some recipes, she advocates the long, slow rise for better flavor and requires it for structure in many recipes.


                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                  I had that book some years ago, and I could never get satisfactory results from the recipes. I don't always think it was pilot error.

                                                2. Anyone who also reads the Cook's Illustrated's board as well will know that I just copied and pasted my response from there. What can I say, I am tired from making the bread last night :).

                                                  Well yesterday I got very excited reading about this bread. I immediately started it, and did the math later. This required to wake up at 2:00, 4:00, 4:30, and 5:00. That I do not recommend. However, The bread looks great. I used all ap flour because that was listed first in the recipe. I cooked it in my 6-quart LC dutch oven. I preheated it properly, and had no problems with the temp. changes.

                                                  It was ready at about 45 minutes. I used my thermopen to check internal temperature. I pulled it at about 200 degrees. It is beautiful. The bottom and top are browned perfectly. It released from the pan with 0 effort. It was already loose. When I took it out of the oven and put it on a rack, it started making those wonderful crackling noises. When I try a piece I'll let you know how the taste is.

                                                  I think I might love this!

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: Becca Porter

                                                    Thanks for reporting back...how did it taste??

                                                    Is it typical to take bread out at 200 degrees internal? Never heard of that before.

                                                    I read the article and watched the video and can't wait to try this!! I have all the ingredients on hand so hope to make it after work today. Any other reports or tips out there?

                                                    1. re: Carb Lover

                                                      I have 180 engrained in my head. I don't know if I read that on the King Arthur side, The Bread Bible, or what. It's just one of those things I remember, though I haven't tried it yet.

                                                      1. re: Pei

                                                        That's funny! I remember 190 to 205!! And everybody else seems to go higher.

                                                        1. re: yayadave

                                                          I remembered it around 200 degrees. I looked it up in The Bread Bible. Those are RLB's numbers.

                                                  2. Two (more) questions about this bread-- once you open the little foil pack of dry yeast, to use 1/4 teaspoon, can the rest be saved if kept airtight?
                                                    Also, does the texture of the crust have anything to do with the actual flavor/texture of the bread? Can you make a lousy crust with great interior, or vice versa?

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                      The recipe calls for instant yeast. The yeast that comes in the little foil packages is active dry...it usually needs to proof before you add it to your dough. Instant yeast can be directly added to your dough.

                                                      The activity of both types of yeast is not equivalent. In general, instant yeast has 3 times the activity of an equal measure of active dry yeast.

                                                    2. Just put the yeast packet in a ziploc bag and put it in the freezer.

                                                      Yes, I am sure you can make a bad bread with a great crust. Though I never have had it happen to me.

                                                      1. 200-211 is the preferred range for hearth or artisan style breads. I shoot for 200 degrees, and this time is was about 205 when I checked it. It is the best way to determine when bread is done.

                                                        Brioche and other egg-rich doughs are ready at 180-190 degrees.

                                                        I just ate a small piece but it tasted great. The texture was a little eggy even though it was eggless. I guess because it is such a wet dough. I need to try it with a meal.

                                                        1. I'm eager to try this, but don't have a Le Cruset or large cast iron pot. (They are on the wish list!)

                                                          Any ideas for suitable alternatives? I have a tratamonia dutch oven, a cermaic pot w/ lid, and a an asian clay pot w/ lid (lined).

                                                          Thanks for your help, I'm hopeful one of these will work so that I can try this bread!

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: Laura Jones

                                                            I think it would work in any lidded pot that can go into the oven at high temperatures. I was tempted to use my Le Creuset ceramic oven-safe pot, but it's a bit small for the purpose.

                                                            1. re: Laura Jones

                                                              i have a cast iron soul kettle that should be big enough, but it has a glass lid. wondering if it will withstand the better part of an hour at 450-degrees. would appreciate a report if anyone has tried.


                                                              1. re: Laura Jones

                                                                Don't use Asian clay pot it will crack for sure under high heat.

                                                              2. This is my first time to this site. We just moved to Sioux Falls from Southern California and I had a dream about our most all time favorite ice cream - Thrifty's Double Chocolate Malted Crunch. So I went on line to see if they had it here in the mid-west. This is the site Google brought me too. What a great website. My question? Where can I get the recipe for Bittman's No-Knead Bread. I am interested in making good homemade whole/grain wheat breads.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: Aljean

                                                                  The link is in the very 1st post on this thread. When you go to the NY Times website, look to the left of the page for the 2nd link to the recipe. Watch the video, too.

                                                                  There is a 2nd thread started recently about the results of people baking. Wonderful postings and great tips.

                                                                  Happy baking!

                                                                  1. re: Aljean

                                                                    You can click the link in the original post, for the NY Times. If you haven't done free registration with the Times website, it may (like most major newspapers) prompt you to register (again, for free) in order to view the recipe and accompanying article that is valuable to read.

                                                                  2. Mine is in the oven! I'll post when it's out and when I've eaten some...

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: jeremey

                                                                      It's out! And it's good. Great texture. I think mine could have stood another 10-15 minutes of baking at least (I went for about 50 minutes, 20 uncovered). The biggest change for next time will be to not dust it with corn meal but use flour instead... I'm not wild about the crust with the corn meal.

                                                                    2. Okay, you all have gotten me so fired up that I just ransacked my freezer for flour and this is what I stirred up: All King Arthur flours - 1 1/2 cups bread flour, 1 cup white whole wheat and 1/2 cup organic whole wheat. I overfilled my 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt since several of you expressed a lack of that element. Luckily I had a new package of instant yeast in the cupboard (for what other destiny it had been intended, I cannot recall). My concern is my closest to an appropriate cooking vessel which is a 6 qt Calphalon dutch oven with lots of flat surface area. We shall see.....

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: chitta chef

                                                                        I, too, used my Calphalon anodized dutch oven and it turned out beautifully. It was sitting on the pizza stone I keep in my oven, so that may also have contributed to the success.

                                                                      2. I'm thinking of trying the recipe, but replacing the yeast with my sourdough starter, what do you think?

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: amkirkland

                                                                          I've made sourdough recipes with wet doughs and long rises, similar to this technique. Unless you know your starter very well, it may take a couple of tries to get the timing right. If you use too much starter or let it ferment too long the loaf may not rise well after shaping, and may be overly sour. I would recommend using a small amount of starter for your first try, perhaps only a tablespoon or two if it is usually vigorous. Once you get it right, the flavor should be excellent.

                                                                          1. re: amkirkland

                                                                            Now that's interesting.. I am going to make the bread today, but have a sourdough test in mind this week. Heck it's only a couple cups of flour. I am going to bake mine in the Big Green Egg.


                                                                          2. I just made this bread last night/today, and WOW - so easy, so tasty! Truly foolproof. I did 2c all purpose white flour and 1c whole wheat flour, and didn't use "instant" yeast (just whatever was in the foil packet in the fridge). Cooks Illustrated talked recently about how you don't really need to proof yeast anymore since expiry dates are pretty iron-clad, so I was glad to see this recipe just has you mix everything together in one bowl, and voila! I let it rise for only 12.5-13 hours because I'm impatient, and I didn't flour my cloth enough so the dough stuck a bit, but even so, the final product is spectacular. I cooked for 30 min covered, 18 min uncovered, in a ceramic dutch oven, and feel it's perfectly done -- lofty crumb, crackly crust. I had the first slice (warm, with butter) a few minutes ago and man am I impressed. I can see making this several times a week!

                                                                            1. I am about to try this bread--but I don't have a dutch oven. My plan is to use my Calphalon 8-qt stock pot.

                                                                              I noticed several people talking about pizza stones.

                                                                              I have a pizza stone. Would it be better if I put the dough in the stock pot, cover it, and place the pot on the pizza stone? What is the advantage?

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: AppleSpam

                                                                                In most cases I would say it doesn't matter too much about having the pizza stone in there or not. The advantage would be that the pizza stone acts as a heat sink and will help regulate the temperature in the oven while the bread is cooking. In your situation, I would say it's a good idea to include the pizza stone because you are using an aluminum pot versus an enameled cast iron. Aluminum tends to lose/gain heat very quickly and again, the stone would help regulate the temperature.

                                                                                1. re: AppleSpam

                                                                                  I, on the other hand, do not have a dutch oven or cast-iron or enamel stockpot. I have a bread recipe that calls for baking the bread on a pizza stone while covering it with a pot, maybe from the LA times a while back? I might try that.

                                                                                  1. re: Dumkling

                                                                                    I definitely would be interested to hear your results with that method....if you do try it please post...!

                                                                                2. I, too could have used a lot more flour on the towel. Messy!

                                                                                  How about a lightly greased bowl to rise in, and put it back into the bowl for the two-hour final rise and half-hour rest?

                                                                                  I rose it in a large plastic bowl, and since I have a tough time with plastic wrap (one of my arms doesn't work well) I just put a same-size bowl upside down on top. Also, didn't "fold over the towel" on top for the 2-hour rise, just left it uncovered ... no problems.

                                                                                  Had no really heavy pot to bake in (kicking myself for getting rid of my dutch oven after it went unused for three years from the time I bought it). Baked in my 8-quart restaurant-weight aluminum spaghetti pot, and was very satified. The taste ... now I understand what I've been missing!

                                                                                  EXCEPT it could have been loftier. Maybe a little TOO wet? I mean, just a wee little bit? Your thoughts?

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: wayne keyser

                                                                                    If it's any help, I've found that a dinner plate makes a fine lid for a bowl of dough.

                                                                                  2. Do you think it's possible to make this bread if you don't have a heavy, cast-iorn pot to bake it in? I have corningware and baking pans, but no heavy pots. I want to try this!

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: lissar

                                                                                      Lissar, yes, you can use corningware...a poster named Ora used it and reported about it in the other big thread about this bread.

                                                                                    2. Here's my attempt at uploading a photo of my Bittbread. Hope it's successful.


                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                        Bittbread? Bittbread? Did you just invent a new name?

                                                                                      2. Oops, picked the blurry one Here's a better picture This is my first successful attempt at putting photo in mzz.


                                                                                        I actually think that it should be called BITLAYBread...cause the guy who taught him how is Lahey.

                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                          Wouldn't be the first time the wrong guy got the credit. But Bittbread does sound slick.

                                                                                          1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                            I seemed to have screwed up my photo link....another try


                                                                                          2. I gave this a try and was quite satisfied with the results. I let it sit for almost 24 hours in a 63 degree kitchen. It wasn't quite as dense as I would have liked - do you think the extended rise made it lighter? Any ideas on how to get it denser?

                                                                                            1. I wonder if a high-gluten flour such as King Arthur Sir Lancelot will give you the density you want. This is the flour I nearly always use for pizza. In fact, I have some Bitbread rising that uses the KASL exclusively. I don't recall reading whether or not anyone else has used this particular flour in this recipe. Anyway, I'll let you know how it turns out.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                Okay. Just sampled the bread made using the King Arthur Sir Lancelot (high-gluten) flour and it didn't knock my socks off. I liked the crumb; it was definitely dense and chewy--maybe a bit too much so. Thought the crust was too crisp, too hard. And I used cornmeal instead of flour, which I wasn't crazy about either. I have a 4-quart LC and a 7.25 quart and used the larger since that was what was recommended. But as others have said, it was a bit flat. I definitely would prefer a more traditional boule shape. I'll try it again, perhaps with half high-gluten and half AP and in the 4-qt. and see if I like that result better.

                                                                                              2. Booo . . . I started my dough last night, woke up this morning (14 hours later) and . . . it has not risen a bit! So disappointed. After reading this thread I realize I used active dry yeast instead of instant - because my grocery store doesn't even CARRY instant (and it's a big suburban store), I thought they must be the same thing. Clearly, I'm new to bread-baking. So I'll go to a fancier grocery today, but in the meantime - someone mentioned that active dry yeast needs to be proofed first. Could I dissolve it in the water and mix it into the dough that way, or would that still not work?

                                                                                                9 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: dubedo

                                                                                                  OK, heresy alert: I've been using whatever kind of yeast I had on hand for 35 years. I have no idea what kind of yeast I have since I dump it out of the foil package and store it in a glass jar in the freezer for forever. I have almost *always* put it dry into the dry ingredients and kneaded it together with whatever liquid at whatever temperature. The ONLY difference I've ever noted (except for sweet doughs; you need to treat them with respect) is that the rise time is longer or shorter.

                                                                                                  If your dough smells "yeasty", give it more time. If it doesn't, give it more time and a stir to redistribute the oxygen and liquids. Always watch your dough not the clock.

                                                                                                  If you want to proof some of the same yeast and see if it's still alive, stir together some flour a pinch of sugar, some yeast and enough water to make it a little thicker than the consistency of heavy cream in a graduated glass measure. DON'T put in salt. Note the level of the brew. Let it sit 15 or 20 minutes. When you check on it it should have increased in volume and be bubbly. If it isn't get new yeast and try your bread again.

                                                                                                  1. re: rainey

                                                                                                    Ha ha. I always bought yeast from the health food store, kept it in the freezer, threw it in dry with the other ingredients. Always worked fine. Was running out, health food store no longer stocks it, bought from King Arthur website, where I was confronted with the different types. For the Bittman recipe, still used what I had, in the dry method. It was perfect, and the timings were quite accurate. Finally *looked* at the label on my health food store yeast and found it was the "must proof" active dry type. So my story is, just because *everyone* says you *must* proof it, doesn't mean it's so.

                                                                                                  2. re: dubedo

                                                                                                    I've heard very different things from various reputable sources about yeast. The most important thing is this... the best yeast is the one you're used to using and that you use it in a way familiar to you. All yeast will rise eventually. every 17 degrees causes yeast to double or halve in productivity. Active dry doesn't DEMAND proofing, but that helps it dissolve. If it's between 40-140 it's going to be doing something. If you got no signs of activity I would say your yeast is bad. I like instant because it comes by the pound and is cheap. If you have a Smart and Final near you, they should carry instant, otherwise baking supply places often do as well.

                                                                                                    no matter what you use, you proceed through the steps according to what the bread looks like, not according to times. I would've let that first batch sit and see if anything happened. You might have come up with a delightfully tart loaf after a couple of days. In the meantime you could do another trial.

                                                                                                    1. re: dubedo

                                                                                                      Update - I took rainey's advice, gave the dough a stir and let it rise for a total of 24 hours. It didn't look much bigger, and had maybe 2 bubbles, but I took a chance and carried it through. It definitely did not double in size during the second rising, or even grow much at all. (Other than that the texture seemed spot-on). I baked it in my 9.5 inch Le Creuset. The resulting bread is fairly flat, about 2.5 inches high at its tallest point, and dense and chewy. More of a bread UFO than a boule. There are a few very large bubbles, not so many smaller ones. I think this is due to my negligence in not really mixing the dry ingredients. (I watched the video after I'd already made the dough, and then I realized how thoroughly he mixes them). Also, my active dry yeast may have been in the cupboard for a few months. So, I've mixed a new batch of dough, with 1/2 tsp of fresher active dry yeast, of a different brand (Hodgson Mill), and with a very thorough mixing of the dry ingredients. We will see if this one puffs up any bigger!

                                                                                                      1. re: dubedo

                                                                                                        Can you not find Fleishmann's Rapidrise, or Instant yeast (SAF) in your neck of the woods? If you can get Hodgson Mills (good stuff) surely the above yeasts must be available to you....perhaps in your environment..these might do the trick??!!

                                                                                                        1. re: dubedo

                                                                                                          I sympathize because that's what happened with my first loaf, more or less. Though I did get the first rise. It just collapsed after about 17 hours.

                                                                                                          I bet you'll have better results with the new yeast.

                                                                                                          1. re: Kagey

                                                                                                            There has been plenty of worry about using dried yeast, or instant yeast, proving or not proving etc etc.

                                                                                                            I screwed up when prepping the dough yesterday morning. Using the commmonly available Fleischman's Active Dry yeast (the one in the little foil sachet), I completely forgot to mix the dry ingredients before adding the water. So I was worried.

                                                                                                            Early this morning, the dough had risen beautifully, and was stringy and elastic.

                                                                                                            I then screwed up further (hey, it's early morning, and there's a lot going on in our household at first light!). After taking the dough out and folding it, I completely forgot about the second rising, the extra two hours Bittman calls for.

                                                                                                            Into the oven it went, snug in a le Creuset pot. Out it came half an hour ago. I was expecting a sorry looking lump. Instead, I got a beautiful loaf of bread, just as good as my first time. And it tastes fantastic - delicious crust, beautiful crumb and texture.

                                                                                                            So it goes to show that chemistry, yeast and flour can do their work, even if the baker is, like me, clumsy and forgetful! So take heart, and go for it.

                                                                                                            - Sean

                                                                                                            1. re: Sean Dell

                                                                                                              It definitely sounds like this recipe is pretty idiot-proof! I just thought that dubedo's yeast might be dead, is all.

                                                                                                          2. re: dubedo

                                                                                                            You know, if you got some (even disappointing) rise the yeast probably was OK. But do the proofing test to be sure.

                                                                                                            There are two other things that could be probs. I) Is it possible you let the dough go too long and too much acidity developed? Remember times are guidelines not absolutes. At some level the yeasts are killed off by their own biproducts just like we'd succumb to carbon dioxide. 2) Some municipal water is heavily chlorinated and that acts on the yeast the same way it does on the microorganisms it's designed to kill in the water.

                                                                                                            The remedy for 1) is checking the dough sooner and proceeding while there are still large bubbles on the surface of the dough. And, sometimes, if the yeast is soooo active that it's consumed the starches in the flour, to stir in additional flour. The remedy for 2) is to use bottled water or water that you allow to stand uncovered for 24 hours before using.

                                                                                                        2. I used active dry yeast and it worked fine. Sometimes active dry yeast loses its, well, 'activity', by being killed. Usually by being left in a hot place.

                                                                                                          I will defer to our baking colleagues on this one, but my first try of the no-knead bread was wonderful, using dry yeast.

                                                                                                          On the other hand, I mixed it well with the other ingredients first. You now have me worried, because I have just started my next loaf, and I completely forgot to mix the dry ingredients first, which may penalize the poor yeast. I'll report tomorrow...

                                                                                                          - Sean

                                                                                                          1. Oh! I mixed this up yesterday and set it on the fridge to rise. Pulled it down just now & found that it didn't rise! The yeast expiration date is Nov 17, 2006. Guess I cut it too close. I wonder if temp extremes over the time it's been stored in our house shortened the shelf life.
                                                                                                            Disappointing! Oh well, off to the store and will begin round 2.

                                                                                                            By the way, I just can't call this Bittman's bread! I feel crummy for Jim Lahey, who deserves the honor, imo.

                                                                                                            Can't wait to try this!

                                                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: ellaj

                                                                                                              Store your yeast in the freezer and it will be good for nearly forever.

                                                                                                              1. re: rainey

                                                                                                                Thank you, will do. It's always been in the pantry. A mistake, I learned today.

                                                                                                                Thanks again. Really looking forward to trying this bread.

                                                                                                              2. re: ellaj

                                                                                                                Maybe it should be Sullivan Street Bread.

                                                                                                                1. re: yayadave

                                                                                                                  THANK YOU! Mark Bittman has made his own culinary reputation but Jim Lahey made the bread. How the hell did Bittman get credit for it? That's just WRONG.

                                                                                                                  1. re: rainey

                                                                                                                    That's probably my fault because I started this topic calling it Bittman's bread. But you're very right. I'm going to call it Lahey-bread-in-a-pot from now on.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Kagey

                                                                                                                      Well, I didn't mean to make anyone feel responsible. I'm sure it caught on because of the alliteration. But, fair's fair and credit should go to Lahey.

                                                                                                                  2. re: yayadave

                                                                                                                    I agree it shouldn't be Bittman Bread, but Sullivan Street Bakery makes quite a few breads. Their Pugliese, for instance, is a classic, at least locally here in NYC. Perhaps just "the Lahey bread" would do?

                                                                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                      Probably it will end up being called "that pot bread."

                                                                                                                2. It is amazing bread, and as easy to make as suggested in the NYT article.

                                                                                                                  Another time I think I might bake it 5 mins more covered, and 5 mins more covered.

                                                                                                                  Also I might add another 1/4-1/2 tsp salt.

                                                                                                                  Fantastic !

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Bigtigger

                                                                                                                    I think it would help if we knew the best internal temperature.

                                                                                                                    1. re: yayadave

                                                                                                                      Mind it I riff on your post and direct *very* general comments? As someone who grew up eating homemade bread and has been baking bread for 40ish years can I say that I'm just delighted to see people realizing that they can bake bread. I've read a lot of books on bread and a lot of recipes. I realize that people I respect like Daniel Lederer spend a lot of time talking about the temperatures of sponges and doughs. He makes fabulous bread (and writes very well too). Anyone who wants to plumb the depths and reach for the stars should absolutely do it! But what's wonderful about this method is the number of people it has dis-intimidated and gotten to bake bread. The second thing it's done is to have so many people comparing results. And, guess what, they're not all the same. This would be a problem for someone like Lederer who has a reputation for particular breads and a clientele who expect consistency. For us who are just pleased to eat something fresh from the oven and perfuming the air, who cares? I mean do we ask if our ciabatta is high enough or has a brown, crackling crust? If it's good, it's GOOD. Do we ask if our sourdough has a uniform texture? Do we ask if our brioche has a crisp crust. Or that our pumpkernickle is light and airy? The point is that "bread" is whatever comes out of the oven from pita (OK, pita is done on a grill) to babka. So if you're loving that you baked bread and you want to keep experimenting, HOORAY for Jim Lahey and HOORAY for Mark BIttman and HOORAY for Daniel Lederer and Lionel Poilaine and Amy Schreiber and ALL OF US!

                                                                                                                  2. I've baked unkneaded breads in the past and baked in closed containers as well as wood-fired ovens. But I'd never tried such a slack dough. I made mine with 15 ounces of flour (3 cups) and the 13 ounces of water of the recipe, 1 1/2 tsp salt. That is an 87% hydration by baker's percentages. But when baked at the 500 F. as on the video, I got excellent results. The bread had actually reached 204 F internal temperature after half an hour with the lid on. And the color was good. So next time I will bake at 450.
                                                                                                                    A bread cloche works well, too, with slack dough, although the dough tends to spread a bit more in one.
                                                                                                                    I intend to try a sourdough version, starting with a much lower charge of leaven than I usually use. The 1/4 tsp of yeast amounted to about 1/10th of the yeast in some direct-method bread recipes. So I will cut way back on the starter.

                                                                                                                    1. Here are my results. I measured out 3 cups AP King Arthur flour (came out to 5.25 oz by weight), 1/4 t. instant SAF yeast, 1.5 cups water and a little over 2 t. sea salt. Let it proof for 18 hours. Folded it per the video. Let it sit 15 min. Shaped and proofed 2 hours on a towel. My dough was very wet, but using the extra flour as directed made the folding and shaping possible. I then baked it in a 2.5 qt. Creuset pot at 450 (convection) for 20 min with the lid on, 30 min with the lid off.

                                                                                                                      A beautiful loaf. Smelled wonderful. Crackled as it cooled. Flavor? Just ok. A bit moist on the inside, like others have said. I wouldn't make it again except for the fact that I saved 1/4 cup of the dough as a "chef" for the next batch. We'll see if that improves the flavor.

                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: emily

                                                                                                                        "3 cups AP King Arthur flour (came out to 5.25 oz by weight)"

                                                                                                                        Is that a typo, Emily? Wouldn't it be closer to fifteen, not five, ounces? I usually bake by weight as well and figure about 5 ounces per cup. But I noticed on RLB's blog about this recipe that she translated 3 cups unbleached AP flour as 468 grams which would come out to about 16-1/2 ounces.

                                                                                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                          Yes, you're right. I meant 15.25 oz!

                                                                                                                          Also, the interior moistness is not so much a problem now that the loaf has sat out a few hours. It also has a bit more flavor than it did earlier.

                                                                                                                        2. re: emily

                                                                                                                          Today's effort was MUCH more flavorful. Measurements were the same as above, except 2 slightly *rounded* teaspoons sea salt.

                                                                                                                          Difference: room temp is probably 10 degrees cooler now AND I let the first rise go 21 hours. I had a slice about 1 hour out of the oven and it was much more flavorful. Perhaps the longer, cooler rise produced more flavor.

                                                                                                                          I didn't get a chance to try the "chef" since too much time had passed between loaves.

                                                                                                                          By the way, using the 2 3/4 qt. Creuset pot produces quite a high loaf. About 6" in the middle.

                                                                                                                        3. I've been intrigued by the flavor comments regarding this no- knead bread made with very slack dough. Compared with a direct-method bread, the flavor is exceptional. Compared with a naturally-leavened bread, the flavor is one-dimensional. So if you are looking for the most flavorful bread in the world, this would not be the best approach for you.
                                                                                                                          I think a lot has to do with the flour you work with. Generally, unbleached flour gives better results, and I am fond of some particular brands.
                                                                                                                          To my mind, the greatest advantage of this approach is that it lets people with limited space or time and limited physical strength bake a decent bread. I know a lot of people in tiny apartments on a limited income who will welcome this recipe.

                                                                                                                          1. I made this bread with slightly too old SAF instant yeast and very nice organic bread flour with a protein content just slightly higher than King Arthur AP. As with someone else who posted earlier, the bread was a little flatter than I'd like, which I'd attribute to the age of the yeast as much as anything else.

                                                                                                                            One tip for people who are worried their available ceramic pots, Pyrexes, etc. can't withstand 450 or 500 degrees: I baked mine in enameled cast-iron but only at 400 degrees: 30 minutes with the lid, 30 minutes without, and liked the resulting crust and crumb just fine.

                                                                                                                            I love how this recipe makes good bread accessible to all of us on the cheap.

                                                                                                                            1. Here's a sourdough take on the no knead loaf.

                                                                                                                              I refreshed my starter twice, the second time as a thick batter. I figure it was about 90% hydration, almost a very slack dough. I dissolved 1/4 cup of this in 11 ounces of water. Add 15 ounces of Gold Medal AP flour and 9 grams of fine sea salt (about 1 1/2 tsp). I let it rise 14 hours. It was very soft, but I folded it three times on a floured surface and then let it rise in a floursack towel liberally coated with fine corn meal. After 2 1/2 hours I baked it in an Innova 5 quart enameled iron casserole (like the Le Creuset) that had been prehated to 450. It was on the low rack in the oven. After half an hour I removed the lid and let it continue to bake for 10 more minutes. Then I checked the internal temperature which was already 210. I turned it out on a rack. The oven spring was slightly less than the last loaf, which was a yeasted loaf at 87% hydration, but nearly as good. The edges of the break along the seam lines on top were just turning mahogony, and there was some dark color on the bottom of the loaf. The break revealed good holes in the crumb structure. The fragrance is like that of a really good sourdough. It is cooling. We'll have it for supper. (I hope it lasts that long.)

                                                                                                                              1. Wow! This bread is amazing...
                                                                                                                                After reading the article about it on the internet, I was ecstatic, ready to try it. After reading some only mediocre reviews of it on message boards, I was just a little worried - but now I know, that worry was with no justification whatsoever.

                                                                                                                                I used about 2.5 cups of AP flour with .5 cup rye flour, using instant yeast and a little more water than asked for - the dough looked dry compared to internet pics. Not too many bubbles this morning before shaping, but still a good amount of CO2 production, it seemed. I let it rest the second time for a little more than two hours - almost three and slashed and baked it ( in Le Creuset Dutch Oven for about 45 min. - 30 covered, 15 uncovered.) When I took it out the temp was about 204 F.

                                                                                                                                The only slight detail that could have made it a little better was the fact that it didn't rise much in the oven - maybe it rose too much the second time (maybe I'll add a touch more yeast next try), and it could have baked for 1 more minute.

                                                                                                                                Otherwise, this was an exquisite boule with an amazing crust - slightly nutty from the rye and with a wine-y note - due to the long fermentation. The crumb structure was beautiful - slightly dense and chewy with moderately sized air bubbles. I am overcome with amazement at the ease and magnificence of this boule.
                                                                                                                                Thank you, Jim Lahey!

                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: jessechef

                                                                                                                                  How long did you let the original rise?

                                                                                                                                  Also, the first dough mixture is raggedy and dryish. It all comes together during the long rise. I let mine rise always at least 18 hours, sometimes a bit more due to chores, etc.

                                                                                                                                2. Update on the sourdough version. We had it for supper. Lots of good holes in the crumb, but they looked a bit flattened. Did I let it rise too long? Don't think so. The acid in sourdough weakens the gluten structure slightly. The flavor was extraordinary and the color much yellower than the commercial version. The crust was a bit thicker. I baked it at 450 instead of 500, and that may have made the difference.
                                                                                                                                  Next time, I may try a trick a friend uses in kneaded sourdough bread. She adds a small amount of yeast to her sourdough and seems to get the best of both worlds: a fully-developed flavor and a loftier but still chewy crumb.

                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                                                                                                    You don't mention any sugar to feed the starter. Would that have made a differance?

                                                                                                                                  2. Add sugar? No. Would it make a difference? Yes, a negative one.

                                                                                                                                    Sucrose (table sugar) is hygroscopic and actually impedes yeast growth, so yeasted recipes that are sweetened with it usually contain much more than the normal amount of yeast. So don't add it to sourdough cultures. Fructose, as in honey, is okay, But you don't need to add sugar to a sourdough starter because the long fermentation time gives amylase enzymes plenty of time to convert broken starch chains into digestable sugars.

                                                                                                                                    1. I finally did this last night to critical acclaim; seeing his fine tuning suggestions in this past week's NY Times gave me the needed push to attempt it.
                                                                                                                                      I used 1/2 whole wheat 1/2 bread flour, increased the salt to just under 1 T and took advantage of the full 18 hours for the first rise and 3 hours for the second rise.
                                                                                                                                      It was so tasty it was all I could do to NOT eat the entire loaf slathered w/butter. So I stashed it in a freezer bag to enjoy at a later day. I do plan on trying this again-this time with some savory add-ins.
                                                                                                                                      Thank you Mr Lahey and Mr Bittman!!!

                                                                                                                                      1. I apologize if this has been asked already -- is it possible to achieve a proper rising of the dough at a lower room temperature? We keep our house at 58 degrees when we're sleeping or at work (which add up to most of the time), and 65 when we're there.

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: Rick_V

                                                                                                                                          Yes yes yes. I have done it successfully twice. It just takes longer in cooler temps. My rising area (sounds pretty pro but is actually a corner counter under some cabinets) is usually in the low 60s, and, if I make it to rise all night, probably in the mid-50s with the heat off (I know, I know...I'm in Califa).

                                                                                                                                          1. I wasn't aware of the updated article until reading about it here. I found the text on the epicurious boards.


                                                                                                                                            I have to disagree with him regarding finding a warmer spot for rising. In New England, I keep my house cool and have had much better rise with the dough once I found the "sweet spot" for rising the dough under my under-counter light overnight. The lightbulb definitely made for more bubble and a much higher rise.

                                                                                                                                            1. Baked this yesterday for Thanksgiving (Canadian), and wanted to add my comments, in case anyone uses a search for the following terms:

                                                                                                                                              -turns out bread machine yeast is the same thing as instant yeast
                                                                                                                                              -I used a steel 6qt pot, and only heated it for 10 minutes; with the dough well-floured it did not stick (but I did need to brush excess flour off the bottom afterward)
                                                                                                                                              -upped the salt to 1.5tsp as recommended by others on the board

                                                                                                                                              Made a great, beautiful loaf that no one believed I made myself <lol> Lovely toasted the next day too.

                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Olivia

                                                                                                                                                Some people (maybe in another thread on the Bittman recipe) talked about using LeCrueset (sp?) pans. I used my boyfriend's LeCrueset pan but found I was burning the bottom of the loaf. I dialed the heat down just a bit and switched to a cast aluminum Dutch oven I have. Perfect results. My point is that you don't need the fancy pan for this.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: kary

                                                                                                                                                  Glad to hear an aluminum pot works well too. The reason I mention my steel pot is because I assumed that the dough might stick, because the other vessels mentioned in the recipe (ceramic, glass, Le Creuset) are all smooth/glazed/lined. It's also why I pretty heavily floured the side that ended up in contact with the pan.

                                                                                                                                                  I'm surprised that your LC pan burned the loaf, but now that I think of it, it's glazed/coated cast iron, right?

                                                                                                                                                2. re: Olivia

                                                                                                                                                  Huzza, huzza! Don't show them the recipe. Let them think it was just a bit of artisanal magic on your part.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Olivia

                                                                                                                                                    From what I understand from other posts, you don't even need instant yeast. You can get very good results using the regular dried kind. I haven't tried that yet, though.

                                                                                                                                                  2. The first that I had heard of this recipe (news travels slowly to Texas it seems) was when I got my recent CooksIllustrated magazine. Of course I had to try it, and while pleased with the results, I was not delighted.
                                                                                                                                                    The first and most obvious problem was that the knob on my Le Creuset pot exploded filling the kitchen with phenolic fumes. Also the recommended 500 degrees in the CI version meant that the outside of my ancient Le Creuset Dutch Oven was doscoloring a bit. So, I rushed out and bought a cast iron 6 Qt dutch oven.
                                                                                                                                                    Second issue was that it definitely overbakes the way that CI tell us to do it. Oven at 500 initially, back it off to 425 covered 30 minutes, oncovered until internal 210 degrees. The bottom crust is overcooked and even the rest of the crust is overbrowned. Second loaf was better - I started at 450 and backed down to 400. I have a thermometer in the oven, so I can take its temperature.
                                                                                                                                                    The big differences are that the CI version uses less total liquid, and adds a litle beer and vinegar. The taste of the loaf is fantastic, but somehow it feels a bit like cheating.
                                                                                                                                                    Now that I have found the original recipe, I am going to try it that way, except I will use the CI parchment paper and skillet trick.
                                                                                                                                                    CI suggests that for the rising step (2 hours or so), place the shaped loaf on a greased sheat of parchment paper inside a skillet. Making sure that there is enough of the parchment overhanging to use as a sling to lower the loaf into the hot pan. This works really well, so I will definitely continue that.

                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: seabird2007

                                                                                                                                                      The parchment paper trick is the only part of the CI recipe that I think is better than the Bittman/Lahey.

                                                                                                                                                      1. I didn't read the entire discussion so apologies if it's been mentioned. I actually used a pizza stone instead of my Le Crueset and the bread came out very nice. It was actually better a week later when I baked the unused dough, much lighter and airy.

                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: gourmet wife

                                                                                                                                                          Sounds great. I'll try that too. Was the bread flatter as a result?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                            yes it was but I didn't mind as there was more crunch surface ;-)