My No-Shape No-Knead Bread on Simple Bites

June 8, 2011

in Breads, DIY & Crafts, Recipes


I am delighted to share with you that I’ve written a guest post for Simple Bites – a terrific real-food resource, complete with numerous recipes, advice, and tips on making your food from scratch from wholesome ingredients as efficiently and economically as possible. If you are not familiar with this site, please take a moment to check it out.

My guest post is a step-by-step demonstration of how I’ve adapted the popular no-knead recipe (above) to make it even easier (think no shaping, no mess!). If you’ve always wanted to bake your own bread but were afraid to try, this one is for you. It calls for a dutch oven, but a stock pot can also be used if you don’t have one. Just keep in mind that if your pot comes with a glass lid, you’ll need to replace it with something else (like a different lid or a cookie sheet) for the purposes of this recipe to avoid the glass shattering in the 500-degree oven.


1 Kristina June 10, 2011 at 5:57 pm

I’m very excited I found your blog recently. I love how you write, what you write about and your photography. You recently inspired me with your baked fudge and dulce de leche. Is it alright if I add you to my blog roll?
I looove bread.I try not to eat to much of it though. My mother gifted me a bread machine so I try to use it as much as I can for my homemade bread. This recipe looks easy. I will have to try it! Thanks!

2 Sofya June 11, 2011 at 9:51 am

Thanks Kristina, that sounds great!

3 Heather June 14, 2011 at 6:12 pm

I just found your blog and am enjoying it very much.

I tried this bread today. I used a 5qt Lodge dutch oven.

The crust was amazing, perfect and chewing. The outer 1/3 of the loaf was good but the center was very dense and too moist.

Did I use too much water? Should I have cooked it longer? The loaf wasn’t quite brown enough at 30 minutes so I kept it in another 5 minutes.

Is the loaf suppose to cool in the pan? I removed it immediately.

4 Sofya June 14, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Hey Heather, thanks for giving it a try! My best guest for the situation is that it wasn’t baked long enough and/or was cut into too early. You see, these type of breads continue to cook in their crust for a bit while they are cooling (and you were right to remove it immediately, otherwise it tends to stick) on your cooling rack, so if you cut into them too early, while they are still quite warm, or hot especially, you will almost certainly have a moist center. It seems unfair, right? Does this sound like what has happened? I don’t believe that too much water would lead to that result – some days I make my dough borderline-batter, and, if anything, it makes the loaf lighter, not denser. If you think your dough was denser than what it looks like in my photos on Simple Bites, consider adding more water than the recipe calls for.

It is also possible that your oven bakes a little lower that you think, so perhaps 500 degrees in your oven is less? Under-baking the bread is another reason for what you’ve described. I actually found out that my new oven underperformed at 500 and crank it up all the way to 510.

And another unrelated tip – I always use unbleached, unenriched all-purpose organic flour, and a friend of mine who tried it with a more conventional kind reported back that she didn’t have luck with this recipe until she bought something like I was using. If organic is not an option, King Arthur flour (all-purpose, NOT high-gluten/bread) also works really well. It seems to be available at most supermarkets.

Good luck!

5 Heather June 15, 2011 at 8:16 am

Well of course we descended upon the bread like we hadn’t had a meal in days! It was very warm when we cut it. I will hide it next time to allow it to cool.

It is very possible that my oven bakes lower. In the past, I have noticed that things take longer to cook then the recipe calls for. I will crank it up next time.

Have you ever mixed in fresh herbs? I need a dish to share for a picnic this weekend and I thought about adding rosemary and serving with a side of dipping sauce.

Oh, I used unbleached flour, store-brand.

Again, I love the site!

6 Sofya June 15, 2011 at 11:05 am

I never did the herbs but I think that would be fine!

7 Anna June 16, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Hi Sofya,
I like how you modified the recipe and made it even simpler. :) But I do have a question about the pre-seasoned cast iron dutch oven. Do you by any chance remember if you had to do anything to it before using it the first time? I just got mine a few days ago and it doesn’t have any instructions. I checked online, but can’t find anything on 1st use.

Have you tried anything with sprouted grain flour? Just curious.

8 Sofya June 17, 2011 at 7:39 am

Hello Anna, nice to hear from you! I never tried sprouted grain. Did you buy it “pre-seasoned?” Does it look black and shiny or gray and shiny? If it says it’s pre-seasoned, don’t need to do anything, just wash before using. I don’t like my cast iron too oily anyway.

9 Anna June 18, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Hi Sofya,
Sorry, I’ve been in “lurk” mode for a while. Yeah, the pan was pre-seasoned. I tried it and the bread actually turned out a little better than in an enameled cast iron. But I next time (I’m hoping to do it today), I’ll try a bigger batch so the loaf is a little bigger and rises better, your exact recipe (I was following the recipe from Jim Leahy’s book and it calls for only 3 cups of flour so the loaf was fairly small).

10 Sofya June 18, 2011 at 8:53 pm

I too do think it works better than the enameled one, I’ve done that before as well. A double recipe is better for a higher loaf, and it doesn’t stale as fast as the store stuff, good for 3 days!

11 Liz St. June 19, 2011 at 8:06 pm

A friend recommended this site for the crockpot yogurt. Alas, I only have skim milk so that recipe will have to wait :( But I have always wanted to make bread and this seems like a recipe I could handle! My question is…could I use a covered stoneware baker for the bread (like from Pampered Chef?)I realized that all of my big pots have plastic handles that are only oven safe to 400 degrees. I guess I could try it out and let you know :)

12 Sofya June 19, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Liz – a visitor to my site once tried this yogurt recipe using skim milk and came back to report her success! About the stoneware baker – I don’t know if it can take the 500-510 degree temperature I usually go with. Your call. I have a dutch oven with a plasticky sort of handle as well – I put it in the 500-degree oven before, no problem. Mine is by Lodge (I mean my enameled one – not the one shown in the post), but I am not sure if the ones by Le Creuset and other brands is equally safe. Note that mine too is rated up to 400 or so. If you really got into this, you know you can order a metal handle from the manufacturer (if this is Le Creuset for instance), and replace it with a screwdriver. Or just put a cookie sheet over your dutch oven to serve as lid.

13 Anna June 19, 2011 at 11:27 pm

Hi Liz,
Hope you don’t mind me commenting on your question. The Pampered Chef stoneware should be OK at high temp as long as it’s dry and not cold when you put it into the oven (otherwise it will crack). I have used it at high temps (400+) but not as high at 500. Is your stoneware enameled or non-enameled? If it’s enameled, I’d guess you have a little more tolerance since it’s not porous.
Hope this helps,

14 Anna June 19, 2011 at 11:23 pm

Hi Sofya,
I tried this recipe today. It worked out well and filled out nicely in the dutch oven. However, I wasn’t completely sure how much water to use. The ingredient list calls for 3 cups of water, and the line for the yeast calls for a half cup of water. So I wasn’t sure if the total is 3 or 3.5 cups. I used 3.5 and it felt a little too loose so I’m wondering if it really should be just 3 cups.

15 Sofya June 20, 2011 at 8:56 am

Hi Anna, you were right, it’s the total of 3.5 C. My dough is also fairly loose, batter-like almost, I find that this makes a nicer loaf. You thought the bread was good?

16 Anna June 20, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Hi Sofya,
Yes, we really liked the bread; with only 2 people eating, we ate almost half the loaf! It was more damp in the middle than what I’m used to, but it wasn’t “raw”. Maybe I should cook it for a little longer?

17 Sofya June 21, 2011 at 8:49 am

Hey again, Anna, this question may have been answered in one of the previous comments in this tread. Either way, did you cut it open before it was all the way cool? Because when you cut into a warm, let alone hot loaf, it is bound to be wet because at that point it’s not been fully cooked yet since it continues to cook in its crust after being removed from the oven. What happens is that the heat from the periphery spreads inwards while the moisture from the center spreads outward, thus balancing it all out and eliminating the wetness – if you give it time.

18 Dar Muzz July 9, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Hi Sofya, I discovered your blog for the first time through Simple Bites and have really enjoyed going through your site and reading about “your take on things.” I know summer must be a busy season but I hope you keep posting :)

19 minka August 6, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Hi Sofya, I’ve baked your bread twice now and love it! I too seem to have the center of the bread not totally cooked– do you think the size of my Dutch oven makes a difference? I used a 3.5L Dutch oven– maybe there is too much dough in the center?? Should I try to reduce the recipe ingredients?

20 Sofya August 6, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Minka, I am not sure if you had the chance to read the comments, but one of the issues that leads to that is cutting into your loaf too early (while still hot or at all warm). It is also the case that a 3.5 l dutch oven is much smaller than my 5.5-qt one (approximately 5.5L, roughly). I think it makes sense that in a tighter vessel the moisture can’t be processed by the loaf in quite the same way. I am actually surprised that all the dough even fit into a vessel this small. How about this – try to cut the recipe in half and bake it in your smaller dutch oven – you might even really like the smaller loaves, depending on how much your household goes through in a day.

Another important point – I noticed that now that it’s super humid here in the SW Wisconsin during the peak of the summer (my home is not air-conditioned), my bread tends to not always be quite done in the center either if I make the dough the regular way. To avoid this, I began to cut the amount of water a little in the dough (like, by 3/4 C or something), and found it to be a successful tactic. This is something for you to play with if you live in a similar climate and without an a/c. This is because all bread dough is really sensitive to the amount of humidity in the air, although, I must say, no-knead is WAY better that way (a lot more controllable) than any other kind I’ve ever baked (wild sourdough, various varieties of yeasted breads, etc.)

21 minka August 6, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Thanks for replying Sofya! I will try cutting the recipe in half first. I’ll let you know how it works out— thanks again for such a wonderful website!

22 Stephanie (@wbhomesteader) September 27, 2012 at 11:53 am

Wow! You guest posted for Simple Bites! How cool!

This recipe looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it. I have one question though.

Are you familiar with soaking grains in an acid medium to reduce phytates?

I *try* to follow “traditional” preparation methods when it comes to grains and legumes and I’m wondering if I could adapt this recipe to add an acid medium?

What’s cool is that your recipe calls for allowing the dough to sit for a period of time which is exactly what I would need to do if I were to add an acid medium (whey, kefir, yogurt, lemon juice, or ACV).

I’m not an expert but I think I would have to put the salt in the next morning before baking because salt will inhibit the breakdown of phytates and enzyme inhibitors…
Stephanie (@wbhomesteader) recently posted..My Frugal (Free) Drawer Organizer TraysMy Profile

23 Sofya September 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Hi Stephanie, I have absolitely no experience in this area, sorry. Try Spain in Iowa and Noirished Kitchen and Noirishing Days. Good luck! But I will tell you for sure that adding salt at the end to any bread is a bad idea because it will not absorb/distribute well at that point. The time to add salt is before adding the flour.

24 Angie December 17, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Hi Sofya–

I just tried your recipe for my first time baking bread from scratch. It is without a doubt the BEST BREAD EVER. A few notes on my experience, in case anyone else reading this could benefit:

I cut the recipe in half (I didn’t think my biggest bowl was big enough for doubling or tripling in size) and used unbleached non-organic bread flour. I don’t have a Dutch oven, so I baked it in a medium-sized stainless steel stock pot with a cookie sheet on top of it. It is a little undercooked, which I thought was because of one goof, but I realized it was a different goof after coming back and reading this page again. Since I cut the recipe in half, I was worried about burning a smaller loaf, so halfway through the cooking time I opened the oven to check it; so I thought I’d disrupted the process that way. But after reading again, I realized that I set my oven to 450 instead of 500! Whoops!

But even undercooked, it’s delicious. Next time I will set my oven to 500 and trust my smaller loaf not to burn. My fiance apparently loves chewy bread, so he doesn’t even care that it’s slightly undercooked!

Thanks for the great recipe, it was so easy. I just stirred it all up with a wooden spoon (no big mixer in my kitchen) until it held together, scraped down the sides, let it rise, then when I went to bake it I just kind of dumped it out of the bowl into the pot, using a rubber spatula to make sure it came out in one piece. Totally room for error on this one.

25 Sofya February 1, 2014 at 8:07 pm

Btw, my husband since began baking it at 450 and it works just as well in our oven at least… maybe takes a tad longer, 30 min with a lid plus another 10 without. Thanks for reading!

26 Meriwether Nichols February 3, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Question about the bread… I made my second loaf last night, and we really love this recipe. In fact, we’re really going to have a go at crossing bread off the grocery list for good. But we live in Santa Fe, New Mexico (7200 feet above sea level, “high desert” is what they call it), and baking can be tricky. Our loaves both came out super-moist and chewy, but a little undesirably so in the second loaf. The first loaf I baked per your recipe, except it was a little pale at the end of 30 minutes, so I let it brown for 2-4 minutes with the lid off. The second loaf, I changed my flour mix a bit by including 2.5 cups of whole wheat flour, but I don’t think that was the problem. I just may have botched things a bit by getting excited to get everything swirling in the big Kitchen-Aid. (I’d added a little hot water to boost the temp on my 3 cups that had been sitting too long on stand-by in a large Pyrex measuring pitcher. Then when I was adding the water to the flour, I realized I had neglected to check how much over 3 cups the water level was exactly, so I had to guess. The result: I may have added a tad too much water.) And because things baking in Santa Fe often benefit from a boost in temp and time, I baked at 515 degrees. I didn’t see the need to bake longer this time because, right at 30 minutes, I had some nice browning on the loaf (although it was not as obvious and contrast-y because of the darker whole wheat flour in there.) Since I baked right before bed, I let it cool overnight on a wire rack loosely topped with a paper towel. When I cut in this morning and ate some room temp, it was fully cooked, but honestly so moist and chewy that I could only imagine eating it toasted. (It had kind of cold, clammy texture at room temp that was a little off-putting.) So even if you’ve never baked at altitude, I’d appreciate your best recommendation. Next time, do you think I should boost the temp a bit more and by how much? Or should I remove the lid after 20 minutes or so and let it bake uncovered? My instinct is the latter because I’m guessing–and what do I know, this is my second loaf of bread period, ever, by any recipe!–that the steam has done its critical work after maybe the first half of the bake time, and some straight-up heat would help regulate the moisture. Is that crazy? Thank you, thank you, thank you, Sofya, for reading this. I love your blog and get so much inspiration and practical ideas from it.

27 Sofya February 17, 2014 at 1:16 am

I never did experience baking in high altitude – but my approach to just about all new cooking projects is to follow my instincts and try different things until one works.

One way to regulate the moisture is to use less water. These days I bake at 450 – covered for thirty minutes, uncovered for another ten. I would not reduce the time with the lid but instead increase the time without the lid after the first half an hour.

Previous post:

Next post: