No-knead bread

No-knead bread

1 kg loaf
Vanessa Levis

This no-knead bread is adapted and very much simplified from a recipe by Jim Lahey, of New York’s Sullivan Street Bakery. It is based on the principle that kneading can be omitted when making bread by using very little yeast, a soft, slack dough, a long rising time and by baking it in a preheated pan with a lid.

Once you master this simple method you’ll want to make it regularly. It needs time but not labour; it’s just a matter of mixing the flour, salt, yeast and a little bread improver and water in a bowl 20–24 hours before you want to bake it.


Quantity Ingredient
600g baker’s flour or plain flour, (you can use a mixture of white and wholemeal flour; see Variations)
1 teaspoon bread improver
1/4 teaspoon dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups warm water
plain flour, cornmeal or wheat bran, to dust and top


  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, bread improver, yeast and salt. Add the water and stir, with a plastic or silicon spatula, until mixed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then a tea towel. Set aside at room temperature for 10–12 hours, until the surface has many bubbles. In cold weather the dough will take longer to rise than in warm weather. Be sure to keep it out of draughts, and in the winter, put it in a sunny spot, well-covered with perhaps two tea towels.
  2. Use a spatula to release the dough from the sides and fold the dough over on itself three or four times. Cover again with the same plastic wrap and tea towel and leave for another 6–8 hours, until the dough has doubled in volume.
  3. Meanwhile, 15 minutes before baking, place a heavy-based covered pan (cast iron, enamel or ceramic) in the oven and set it to 240°C. When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pan from the oven and place it on a heatproof trivet. Sprinkle the base with a thick dusting of flour. With your hand under the bowl, turn the dough over into the pan. Shake the pan very lightly to distribute the dough evenly. Quickly sprinkle on the topping, if desired. If you like, use a sharp knife or scissors to cut a few slashes into the top of the dough, making a decorative pattern. Cover with the lid and bake for 40 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for another for 20 minutes, until the loaf is browned and crusty. The bread is cooked if it sounds hollow when the underside is knocked with the knuckles. Turn out and leave to cool on a wire rack.


  • Crisp crust

    For a crisper crust, you can reduce the length of time the pot is covered to 20 minutes and then increase the time the loaf bakes uncovered. For a crisp crust all over, take the bread out of the pan and bake it directly on the oven bars for the last 10 minutes. If not, return to the oven for more baking. Turn the bread out of the pan as soon as it comes from the oven, and cool on a wire rack.

    Wholemeal bread

    You can add up to half wholemeal to half plain flour if you like a denser loaf of bread. Baker’s flour (from health food stores) is best because of its high gluten content, but you will still get good results with ordinary plain flour. Wholemeal soaks up more water than white flour so you may need to add more or less water, depending on the proportions you use.


  • Bread improver is available in many supermarkets and health food stores. It contains enzymes that help to strengthen the gluten in the flour. It also aids in earlier fermentation (replacing the need for a ‘mother’ starter), which gives a sourness much liked in sourdough and artisan breads. Yeast alone is missing this enzyme.

    It is best not to double the quantities to make two loaves because it can be too unwieldy to manage.
Back to top
    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again