4 Ingredient No Knead Bread

106 comments

I must say, things are looking up.

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Sometimes, all a girl needs is some freshly baked whole wheat bread slathered in Earth Balance.

Besides releasing endorphins via carbohydrates, I also spent the entire weekend getting my life in order!

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Santa approved.

I cleaned. I organized. I did Holiday prep. I bubble bathed.

I cleaned off the kitchen desk that was covered for 3 months…

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I rocked my to-do list…

  • Paid bills/business banking
  • BUBBLE BATH
  • Cleaned main level of house
  • Organized kitchen supplies, clean out baking drawers
  • Donated all items not in use (got 2 boxes worth to donate!)
  • Clean/tidy office
  • 3-4 loads Laundry
  • Baked 2 recipes for blog
  • Bought new bed
  • Finish X-mas shopping
  • Wrapped all gifts + ship out gifts
  • Grocery shopping

 

I am starting to feel like my life is sloooooowly getting back on track. This week I need to make time for the dentist and a much needed hair cut, two things I have not had time for over the past few months. I also need to work on my business tax prep and email catch up before the holidays arrive on Friday.

But, back to this bread.

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You may have heard about this famous ‘No Knead Bread’ recipe from Jim Lahey at the Sullivan Street Bakery. The recipe was published on the New York Times website in 2006 and the bread has graced many food blogs over the past few years.

I finally decided I would give it a shot myself!

While I have admitted that I love kneading dough, my curious nature just got the best of me. I also wanted to try this recipe using 100% whole wheat bread flour to see if it would still turn out.

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First things first, mix all 4 ingredients together and let it rise for 12-18 hours, covered in plastic wrap.

My dough mess looked like this after about 14 hours…

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Hot mess.

Turn the hot mess onto a lightly floured surface and fold the dough a couple of times. Place back in the bowl, covered, for 15 minutes.

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After 15 minutes, fold the corners into the middle to shape it into a ball. 

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Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal. I used flour and it was one heck of a mess!

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Place the dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours.

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Tip: If you use a tall narrow bowl, the dough should rise higher as the walls will force the dough to expand upward.

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Sketchie hibernated.

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After 2 hours, place the dough ball seam side up into the preheated pot.

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Do as I say not as I do, apparently. I placed it seam side down by mistake. I’m not sure how much this impacts the final outcome! Maybe it doesn’t rise as much when it is seam side down?

Bake for 30 minutes covered with the lid, and then carefully remove the lid and brown the bread for 15-20 minutes.

Voila.

Rustic, wholesome, goodness.

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The result is a very crispy outer shell with a moist and dense interior.

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The crumb was a bit spongy for my liking, but it was nothing a slather of Earth Balance couldn’t fix. Our favorite part was the crisp outer crust…it was incredible and made this bread so rustic.

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Eric and I proceeded to eat half the loaf for lunch.

Is there anyone who actually makes fresh bread and does not inhale it when it comes out of the oven?

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My overall impression of this no knead bread is that it was more work and mess than it initially seems.

I probably would opt for making kneaded bread next time, only because there is not a 12-18 hour wait period and I think the whole wheat dough might rise better using a traditional method. I’ll have to test out a kneading recipe soon to compare! If anyone has some good whole wheat bread recipes, please shoot em my way.

Either way, Eric and I still very much enjoyed this bread and if you don’t mind the 12-18 hour rest time, it might be a good option for you! You may also want to play around with the flour too using a mix of white and whole wheat bread flours as this one was a bit dense.

PS- I found this quote on an old bread post and I’m re-posting it because it makes me laugh and it is TRUE!

“Any human being is really good at certain things. The problem is that the things you’re good at come naturally. And since most people are pretty modest instead of an arrogant s.o.b. like me, what comes naturally, you don’t see as a special skill. It’s just you. It’s what you’ve always done.”
- Stephen Jay Gould, evolutionary scientist

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{ 106 comments… read them below or add one }

Krystina (Basil & Wine) December 20, 2010

I don’t think I could ever wait that long for fresh bread!

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Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman December 20, 2010

That’s my kind of bread–nice and crusty on the outside and chewy inside. You think it would work if we don’t have a Sketchie to look at between when the dough rises and we put it in the pan?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 20, 2010

bahaha I cannot guarantee anything

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Amanda (Eating Up) December 20, 2010

Oh man, what an interesting concept! I think I’m with you though–I can’t wait that long for bread!

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chelsey @ clean eating chelsey December 20, 2010

Any kind of bread is good bread in my book! Yum!

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Alina @ Duty Free Foodie December 20, 2010

You had me at “4 ingredient”. Your house is looking so cozy with all the Christmas decor!

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Estela @ Weekly Bite December 20, 2010

I love the idea of no-knead bread! Fresh bread makes everything better in my book :)

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Liz @ Blog is the New Black December 20, 2010

My kitchen is clean and I don’t want to make it messy BUT I happen to have all of these ingredients and it looks so delicious…

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Roz December 20, 2010

Wow….you DID rock that “to do” list!!!! Super impressive. Great looking recipe too, and Sketchie is SOOOOOO cute!!!

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Nicole (Picky Nicky) December 20, 2010

I made spelt bread once and ended up eating half the loaf straight from the oven :P When I told my friends I was too full to eat supper with them because I’d just eaten half a bread, they thought I meant HALF A SLICE and gave me such dirty looks! Of course, when I explained, they cracked up :)

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CathyK December 20, 2010

wow, you must feel like a new woman after that super-productive weekend, angela! way to go on accomplishing such a variety of tasks!
another bonus of fresh baked bread is the smell that permeates the house….yum! just about as good as the taste!
have a wonderful pre-christmas week! ho ho ho!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 20, 2010

oh yea that smell is intoxicating! I think it makes it extra hard to resist…

Have a great pre-holiday week yourself…crazy to think Xmas is Saturday!

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Allison @ Food For Healing December 20, 2010

I need to find a nice simple bread recipe, but i dont really want to have to go find “bread” flour, i dont have enough space for all that stuff in my cupboards. but i definitely want the smell of fresh baked bread in my place sometime soon!
but it sure looks delicious!

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Tina @ The Shakeepearean Tomato December 20, 2010

If you can’t find bread flour in the store (which it should be pretty easy to find, it is very common) you can also grab a small bag of vital wheat gluten and add a bit of that to the regular flour. That is the difference between bread flour and all purpose flour, the gluten is higher which makes for a more desirable, chewy texture in the bread.

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Allison @ Food For Healing December 20, 2010

Hmm! Well thanks!
I’m sure its not that hard to find, its just another thing to go out and get haha but maybe i will just have to suck it up, because it looks so tasty and simple lol

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Corey @ the runner's cookie December 20, 2010

I actually really like dense bread! Your pictures are inducing some carb cravings over here ;)
Must be nice to catch up on things! You are one productive and inspiring woman!
Also, that picture of Sketchie is TOO funny – wonder what he’s thinking…

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 20, 2010

he’s thinking damn I want some fresh bread.
When Sketchie was a kitten he used to break into our bread loaves and eat our bread when we went out! true tale.

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Shelly December 20, 2010

We have a colony of feral cats that live outside our house (that we’ve had neutered and now feed) and once when we were grilling bread (bread is amazing brushed with olive oil, then briefly grilled), one of the cats stole a slice! It was hilarious!

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Tiffany @ Conor & Bella December 20, 2010

This is my fave whole wheat bread recipe: http://www.cookingforseven.com/2008/12/favorite-100-whole-wheat-bread/

I make it every week!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 20, 2010

Thanks will take a look!

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Madeleine@ Stepping to the Brightside December 20, 2010

That’s funny- I agree with you about kneading bread, it’s half the fun. But this looks like a [practically] no fuss way for us beginning bread makers to get it going. So glad your life’s in order again- such a great feeling :)

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Averie (LoveVeggiesandYoga) December 20, 2010

“My overall impression of this no knead bread is that it was more work and mess than it initially seems. “—

–Thanks for the honest feedback! I have found so many things like that in the kitchen. I bought a crock pot b/c everyone told me how “easy” they are. Well, I guess. But I’d rather just boil the crap outta my soup on the stovetop for 45 mins and have 1 normal pot to clean than waiting 6 hrs and having this big cumbersome weird crockpot pot to try to clean and contend with. (I still do like my crockpot and all but ya know not always “worth it”) Probably a bad analogy but i know what you mean…

And I’m sure you have this posted somewhere (gonna search your archives) but I think I read somewhere you have a Canon 50d. I am going to buy a Dslr like..this week…debating on the 60D or the Rebel T2i The 50d and 60d are now the same price which is why I am considering that. You have such beautiful photos (as i know everyone tells you!!) so that’s my #1 reason I am looking at the 50d/60d :)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 20, 2010

haha I agree with you about the slow cooker…I haaaaate cleaning it!

I use a canon 30D with a 1.4 50mm canon macro lens. :)

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Averie (LoveVeggiesandYoga) December 20, 2010

Thanks hon for the camera scoop! Was debating between the 50mm 1.8 and 1.4 lens and which body is still up in the air…either one of the D’s, or the Ti Rebels. We shall see how giving$$ I feel like being towards myself. haha :)

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Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg December 20, 2010

Oh man, it must have felt SO nice to take the weekend and just get your life back in order!! I’m glad that making bread was on your list of getting things in order :-) I think if I had to pick only one food to live on for the rest of my life, it would be warm bread and butter (or Earth Balance :-))– yours looks amazing!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 20, 2010

me too!

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Heather (Heather's Dish) December 20, 2010

alright, i’m officially making this…and SO glad that you had a good weekend! you definitely deserved some time off :)

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Maria December 20, 2010

That loaf is beautiful!! I’ve never tried using a pot to bake it in…will have to try that! Thanks!

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Jenn @ LiveWellFitNow December 20, 2010

Um…YUM? Especially pics with melted earth balance. YUM!

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Nicole December 20, 2010

Hey there,
I just wanted to say that I love your website and every morning it is such a treat to log on and see what you have to say. I have made a lot of your recipes and they are delicious. I think that you have a lot of talent and will be successful in whatever you want to accomplish. Have a fantastic day and enjoy your Christmas, you deserve it!
Nicole

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 20, 2010

Thanks Nicole!

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Charlie December 20, 2010

This bread looks crusty & delicious! & with melted earth balance! Yummy :).

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Camille December 20, 2010

This looks gorgeous! The melting butter is making me salivate :)

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Tina @ The Shakeepearean Tomato December 20, 2010

I make no-knead bread too, but I use this recipe from the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day cookbook. Honestly, it is SUPER easy, no big mess, and makes just fantastic bread. I had a batch of it in my fridge from 2 weeks ago, and I pulled it out and made up a loaf yesterday morning to take a holiday potluck yesterday evening and I have everyone telling me it was the best bread EVER. I use 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 white bread flour, and when the dough sits in the fridge for a week or so it really develops a yummy sourdough flavor.
http://www.motherearthnews.com/Real-Food/Artisan-Bread-In-Five-Minutes-A-Day.aspx

Basically, you mix the dough, let it rise for at least 2 hours on the counter, transfer it to a container that is NOT air tight and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to bake. Take a chunk out for however large of a loaf you want, shape it and let it sit on the counter to rise for 45-90 minutes (I usually dust my wooden cutting board with a little flour and just let it sit there), and then bake it. Done! Yum! Also, the recipe calls for a pizza stone which I don’t have. I use a cookie sheet turned over so it has no rims and a piece of parchment paper on top. Very little mess, you have bread dough that lasts up to 2 weeks in the fridge for whenever you want it, and it is just amazing results.

So if you still want to make 4 ingredient no-knead bread, you might want to give this recipe a try. Confession – I don’t have their cookbook yet but I am hoping to get it for Christmas…they have 2 books out, Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and Healthy Bread in 5 minutes a Day. I want them both!!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 20, 2010

Ive heard great things about those books…I’ll have to try it out. Do you find that it rises a lot?

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Tina @ The Shakespearean Tomato December 20, 2010

Not a ton, although it does rise more in the oven than it does on the counter. I am still working out my ratio of liquid to dry because using the whole wheat flour it needs more liquid than white flour would. When it is the perfect ratio of liquid the loaf rises really nicely, when it is too liquidy it tends to resemble foccacia bread more :-) I have heard that because this is their “master recipe” you can use it in a bread pan to make more of a sandwich type loaf. I am still playing around with it.

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat December 20, 2010

ok, mayyyjah carb cravings right now!! love your santa! :)

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Katy (The Singing Runner) December 20, 2010

Hmmm looks good!

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Meredith December 20, 2010

Hey Angela,

To decrease the mess after the initial rising period, just flour the top of the dough and dump it onto a piece of parchment paper. When it’s ready to go into the oven, score the top (pretty!) lift the dough into the hot pot and bake, parchment and all. The crust will still get crispy, and you can easily transfer the loaf in and out of the hot pot by grabbing the corners of the parchment.

I like rising and storing an all-purpose dough in the fridge so I have it on hand for quick dinner rolls, loaves and monkey bread. It’s really handy to have around!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 20, 2010

great tips, thank you! So if I understand correctly you don’t need the cotton towel?

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Meredith December 20, 2010

Right, just let it rise on the parchment covered with a damp towel or saran wrap to keep things from drying out.

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Eimear Rose December 20, 2010

Yeh, no cotton towel. I do the parchment paper thing too. First long rise in a covered mixing bowl, then dump the lot on the parchment and into the cold pot for the last rise (the lid will keep it from drying out), then put the cold pot in a cold oven and heat it up as hot as it goes (taking the lid off near the end). The dough will separate from the parchment during baking.

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Jenn L @ Peas and Crayons December 20, 2010

I might have to talk my husband into making this =) I love a good crusty bread!

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Katie December 20, 2010

I used to make bread in my bread machine once a week back in my gluten eating days and it would be decimated the second it came out. Bread is just…different after a few hours. It changes somehow. :) Nothing that butter and a microwave can’t fix though.

I like that bubble bath is on your to-do list. That’s my kind of prioritizing.

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Leia December 20, 2010

Yum this looks delicious! You don’t get Earth Balance where I live so I’m not sure what I’d slather it in… but either way I’m definitely going to try it.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 20, 2010

im not sure if you are looking for something vegan but Becel just came out with a vegan spread too.

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Leia December 20, 2010

Thanks for the advice! But sadly I live in Bangladesh so these brands aren’t available. I’ve been thinking about making my own nut butter though! :)

By the way I used one of your recipes in a recent blog post in case you want to check it out :) http://www.leiasdelights.com/2010/12/vegan-peanut-butter-cookies.html

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jeffie December 20, 2010

i’ll most definitely will be trying this! super easy breads are always winners to me :)
you inspire me so much!

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Melissa December 20, 2010

“Besides releasing endorphins via carbohydrates”
Bahaha… I love that! That’ll be my excuse next time I want carbs… just need to release some endorphins, is all!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 20, 2010

sometimes exercise is not the preferred method!

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Amanda December 20, 2010

I think NOT inhaling fresh baked bread is illegal in some countries…… or that may be my opinion on fresh baked bread. Butter please : ) mmmmmm

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 20, 2010

yes I believe you are correct

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Shelly December 20, 2010

I’m glad you tried the bread! I used to make this all the time! My suggestion would be to make it a couple more times before you decide not to make it anymore…in my experience, the first bread you make is good, but it gets much better once you start personalizing it a little more. My favorite way to make it was with walnuts, rosemary, and a drizzle of honey in the dough.
As for the long wait, I find that is one of the best things about this bread because I work outside the home. When I make it, I start it right before I go to bed on the first night, let it rise overnight, stick it in the fridge during the day (more on that in a minute), and bake it the next evening, which is really convenient for me.
As for giving it some time in the fridge, when I’ve left the bread out for longer than about 10 hours, I find that it becomes overproofed (basically, it become too puffy and is weakened to the point where it collapses a bit in the oven) and I don’t get as good of a rise as if I let it rise for 8 hours, then put it in the fridge so that it rises a bit more slowly. You might want to give that a try.

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am December 20, 2010

i do the same schedule with mine, but i always leave it on the counter, and mine has never collapsed. i throw it all together around 10 or 11 at night, then prep it for the second rise when i get home a little after 5 the next day.

this is the bread recipe that i use more than any other because it’s so simple and unfussy and absolutely awesome. and i’ve used all whole wheat and had no problems with the rise (yes, it is denser than using just AP, but still nothing like what looks like happened here–it almost looks like you didn’t use enough water, but i’m not there, of course, so what do i know?). i’d hate for someone not to attempt it because of this.

more often, though, i’ll use 2/3 whole wheat and 1/3 AP or bread flour, whatever i have around, plus a little honey and molasses. (i’ve also made this with all bread flour and all AP. i have yet to have a single loaf fail. out of dozens, i’d say.)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 20, 2010

yea im really not sure…i followed the original recipe exactly. The only thing I was wondering is maybe that my yeast wasn’t active. I’ll have to try it with some fresh stuff again and see if that changes anything.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 20, 2010

thanks for your suggestions! Im sure I will play around with the recipe at some point. :) I’d love to add sunflower seeds for starters and refine the technique as I messed up on a step or two

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Bronwyn Coyne December 20, 2010

Interesting. I don’t believe I’ve ever tried no knead bread, because I like the kneading and everything. But maybe I’ll give it a try sometime.

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Shanna, like Banana December 20, 2010

I just found a 3 ingredient no knead bread that has beer..interesting ;)

Sketchie looks a wee bit frightened in that pic, but still adorable!

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Megan (Braise The Roof) December 20, 2010

That’s a really long wait time, but the bread does look very good- I’m a sucker for a good crust and actually love chewy, dense bread more than the fluffier kinds. I might have to free up 12-18 hours. :)

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Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter December 20, 2010

I have to admit, I was super excited when I saw this recipe at first, but then when I saw all the nitty gritty details I was instantly turned off. Sounds like this complicated cheesecake my mom makes.

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Healthy Chocoholic December 20, 2010

Yum!!! I’ve never made my own bread! Even though this does have a long rise period, I might make it before making traditional bread, just to get used to the bread-making process! Thanks for the recipe!!!!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 20, 2010

yes it would probably be a great ‘intro” recipe for those who are a bit scared of the process!

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table December 20, 2010

Fresh bread is my favorite thing in the world. When I was in hgih school my mom used to make fresh sourdough bread and run the top with salted butter when it cam out of the oven. I STILL dream about that bread and the crusty salty crust.

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Shauna December 20, 2010

Hi Angela

Last week I made your pumpkin pie brownies for a potluck and they were a HUGE hit! I wasn’t surprised because I make your recipes all the time. My fiancée has requested that I make it for his family’s Christmas dinner too. I was wondering if you had tried freezing them? I would love to make them ahead of time but I worry about the pumpkin pie layer having a weird texture once it is defrosted.

Oh, and I was really hoping you would win the challenge! I thought you were the best by far!
Enjoy your holidays.!

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