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Jan 2, 2014 01:30 PM

A quick question about Jim Lahey's no-knead bread

Can I use active dry yeast in place of instant yeast? If yes, would I use the same amount as the recipe calls for ("a scant half-teaspoon")? Thanks!

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  1. Yes. See this Bittman column discussing variations and tweaks of the recipe:

    7 Replies
    1. re: masha

      Thanks, masha -- that's soooooo helpful!

      1. re: CindyJ

        You are welcome. Enjoy the bread.

        1. re: masha

          This is my first-ever attempt at the no-knead recipe. I started it last night and so far it's looking very promising.

          1. re: CindyJ

            Should have warned you that it's the gateway to bread making addiction. ;-) It's intoxicating when you pull it out of the oven and it starts singing/whistling and you see how pretty it is. And, the taste... Butter, olive oil, plain, all good. The hard part is not eating the whole loaf in one sitting.

            1. re: chowser

              Absolutely. His method can be used to make almost any kind of bread. Our family standard is now no knead sourdough. The flour mix varies from day to day, as do the additions (grains, seeds, spices), and it works every time.

              Lahey rocks!

              1. re: jammy

                I love his book My Bread. I make all kinds of bread now, knead and no knead, but still go back to the basic No Knead often.

            2. re: CindyJ

              You will be hooked. I almost made no-knead bread yesterday but decided to make pizza as I had to give my new pizza stone a try, and making both seemed a bit redundant. Will probably make some over the weekend.

      2. It works fine, I tend to add a "rounded" half teaspoon if I'm going to be using the shorter end of the resting time.

        1. Yes. Because the fermentation process is much longer in the no-knead bread, it makes very little difference between the two kind of yeasts.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Love the fact that you can explain the science.

          2. Okay, so now that I've baked my first loaf, I have another question. The bread was good, but the crust was VERY hard. It was so hard that I had some difficulty inserting my Thermapen to test for doneness. My guess is that either the oven was too hot (450), or I baked it for too long (30 minutes with lid on; 30 minutes with lid off). I used a 6-qt. Le Creuset round pot with the LC lid. Maybe I should have tested the internal temp at 50 minutes in instead of waiting an hour.

            Any thoughts/ recommendations for my next attempt? Thanks!

            23 Replies
            1. re: CindyJ

              When I make it, the crust is always hard. I thought it was a feature, not a bug ;)

              1. re: nofunlatte

                I thought it should be a little bit hard but more crunchy or crisp; what I got was hard, but not what I'd call crisp or crunchy.

                1. re: CindyJ

                  It was not crisp. It was hard, and a bit tough at the same time. It was no crackers/biscuits

              2. re: CindyJ

                <My guess is that either the oven was too hot (450), or I baked it for too long (30 minutes with lid on; 30 minutes with lid off).>

                I think so too. LIke nofunlatte, I also remember my crust to be very hard. So I had to adjust to my liking. I actually thought my bread interior wasn't fluffy enough. I don't remember exactly what I did to modify that as well.

                I would probably turn the temperature down by 25 degree Fahrenheit.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Thanks, ChemicalK! The interior wasn't exactly what I'd call fluffy, but it was really good. There were good-size air holes, and there was good "chew."

                  1. re: CindyJ

                    < There were good-size air holes, and there was good "chew.">

                    Good size holes, yes, I definitely remember that. I think I modified the recipe and added more oil to my no-knead bread to make the bread stays moist a bit longer. Oh yeah, now I remember. My no-knead bread tasted pretty good when it first came out, but it dried out rather quickly. That's why I later added oil to my dough.

                    Have fun playing around.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      Interesting about the oil -- the recipe I followed had, as an option, an extra step of coating the bowl with olive oil and turning the dough to coat it with the oil before the first rising. I did that and found that on Day 2, the bread was still somewhat soft. Not nearly as good as on Day 1, but still edible.

                      I can't wait to try it again!

                      1. re: CindyJ

                        That's not the no knead bread recipe, or the original one at least, This is the original:


                        In My Bread, Lahey reduced the water to less than 1 1/2 cups. I can't remember the exact amount but I go w/ just 1 1/2. It's easier to work with then.

                        1. re: chowser

                          The original NYT recipe in 2006 listed 1 5/8 cups of water, which was a mistake. It should have been 1 1/2 cups of water. Here's a link to a discussion on The Fresh Loaf about this:


                          1. re: Antilope

                            That's interesting. That's why it's 1 1/2 cups in My Bread. I saw this video when it first came out but never noticed that he used 1 1/2 and not 1 5/8. Bittman got it wrong!


                            1. re: Antilope

                              No Kneading, but Some Fine-Tuning - more detailed info for no knead recipe from Mark Bittman
                              No Knead Bread Ingredient weights
                              3 cups (430g) all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
                              1 1/2 cups (345g or 12oz) water
                              1/4 teaspoon (1g) yeast
                              1 1/2 teaspoon (8g) salt
                              Baker's Percentage for above recipe
                              100% all-purpose or bread flour
                              80% water
                              0.23% instant yeast
                              1.86% salt

                            2. re: chowser

                              I knew that the recipe I was following wasn't Lahey's original. One of the reasons I chost Bittman's version was his inclusion of more salt. So the question is, which is the best recipe for a successful outcome?

                              1. re: CindyJ

                                Oh, I don't know. Let's see, a baker's recipe vs a reporter.......

                                1. re: CindyJ

                                  I follow Bittman's method with success every time:

                                  1. re: CindyJ

                                    I use the Lahey one w/ more salt and love the results. The bread flour will give you a chewier loaf but shouldn't have a teeth breaking crust. The Lahey crust is crispy and chewy but I don't find it too tough. I've never done the Bittman version. Did you wait for the bread to cool completely?

                                    1. re: chowser

                                      Yes, it had been out of the oven for at least an hour before I sliced it.

                                      1. re: CindyJ

                                        This is like 21 questions. Did you take the internal temp? I pull the bread before the time recommended.

                        2. re: CindyJ

                          The easiest thing is the first thing to try - do the temp check like you said at 50 minutes.

                          1. re: CindyJ

                            Bottom or top crust? If bottom did you cook on lower rack? I would have cooked on the middle rack.

                            1. re: Ruthie789

                              The crust was almost as hard on the bottom as it was on the top. The rack was only about one notch above the lowest setting.

                            2. re: CindyJ

                              I cook at 425 with 25 minutes closed and then 25 open. That said, the crust is supposed to be quite substantial. That's one main point of the method. I know when I've given such breads to people who are used to supermarket fluff, they sometimes struggle to cut it or even lack a (serrated) knife up to the task!

                              Another way to assess doneness apart from internal temp is just to look at crust color. Bakers call "bold" a crust that is pretty deeply browned. By the time a loaf is to that point, it is usually over 205-210 internal temp.

                              1. re: Bada Bing

                                I'd definitely call my crust "bold."

                            3. I am now using a baking cloche. The one I have is the Emile Henry Flameware. The instructions that came with it indicate that it goes into an UNheated 460˚ oven for an hour.

                              I almost had apoplexy following that direction. It violated the excellent results I had had with Lahey's hot pot method and everything I did before he introduced that. BUT I got excellent results with a THIN crispy crust on both the bottom and the external surfaces. And the flat base makes it possible to place the shaped loaf on the base for the final rise -- no awkward move and potential for losing inflation -- and slash it without getting burned. I recommend it!

                              12 Replies
                              1. re: rainey

                                I received a Sassafras Superstone 14.5" Covered Baker recently as a gift. It makes great French bread. I start it in a cold oven with great results. Here's my recipe:

                                French Bread in Covered Baker

                                1. re: Antilope

                                  Is there an advantage to using a loaf-shaped covered baker, or a round one?

                                  1. re: BangorDin

                                    I'm sure that depends on what shape you want your loaf to be.

                                    I never do baguettes. I do boules or torpedos. I use a round cloche.

                                    When I want a torpedo I do my final proof in a basket and just turn it out onto the base of the cloche.

                                    1. re: rainey

                                      I guess I am wondering if one or the other is easier to "get right" for whatever reason.

                                      1. re: BangorDin

                                        Well one difference, a loaf shape (torpedo) is maybe 2-inches from outside to center. A boule shape is 3 or 4 inches from outside to center.

                                        Baking is a balance, hot enough to make a crisp exterior and trigger oven spring, but cool enough to allow the center to get done without burning the outside. Most bake artisan bread until the center interior temperature reaches 205-F, some take it to up 210-F.

                                        I think a loaf is easier to bake and get right. I make both, depending on what bread shape I prefer.

                                  2. re: Antilope

                                    But everything about your recipe is totally different than the no-knead recipe.

                                  3. re: rainey

                                    Unheated 460 degrees? Unheated oven and then set oven to heat to 460?

                                    1. re: lemons

                                      Yup! You got it. I guess I should have said unPREheated.

                                    2. re: rainey

                                      This is n ot the tagine, but the baking cloche, right? They come in red and black. Seem like either would work.

                                      1. re: BangorDin

                                        Were you asking me? If so, yes, that sounds like the EH.

                                        Keep in mind it's much more expensive than other ceramic cloches. I like mine very much but don't know that it's superior to ones with thicker walls. I just speak in terms of mine because I have no idea what the instructions are for other ones or if they behave in more or less the same way. I just know my experience.

                                        I really like the EH ceramic. It's thin and lightweight (for ceramic) and it was worth it to me. I just don't know whether other ceramics behave the same way.

                                        I would recommend any round one as more versatile tho if you weren't intending to do thin baguettes. A torpedo that's not too long fits fine.

                                        Just to be clear, prior to this when I was using the Lahey hot pot method I did use a tagine and liked that too. It's just that the hot pot began to seal the outer surfaces of the dough right away and the crust was nice but thick and that's the problem the OP was trying to solve.

                                        I suppose that means a cold tagine would accomplish the same thing. I'm just an idiot and a whore for new kitchen equipment. ;>