The smell of freshly baked bread is definitely in my top three favorite smells. When I lived in Spain, on my way to class I would pass this little old lady who sold freshly baked breads and pastries out of a shop the size of two phone booths squished together. There were more than a few mornings where I would walk by her booth, catch a whiff of the delicious bread, and turn right back around to stand in line.
I don’t live in Spain any more so my access to classic panederías is limited. I could go to the grocery store, but shopping for bread in an aisle doesn’t give me that warm-straight-from-the-oven bread smell. Enter No Knead Bread. I’ve read about this bread from a few different sites, most notably The New York Times. No Knead Bread is just a three-ingredient recipe that will have you asking your friends if you can bake them bread just because it is so simple, delicious and makes your kitchen smell incredible. It has a thin, crispy crust, and an airy, chewy and wholesome interior.
I’ve made this bread with whole wheat bread flour as well as just regular bread flour, and the recipe is the same. Both are pictured below.
There are a few key steps to this recipe that make it exquisite. The first pro tip is handling the dough as little as possible, hence why it’s called no knead bread. The less you handle it, the fluffier and lighter the texture stays. The second key: a covered pot. By cooking the no knead bread in a covered pot, you trap the steam, and allow the bread to stay moist and develop that rustic artisan crust. Make sure to use a pot that can withstand up to 450ºF. I use this guy:
Third pro tip: Plan ahead. This bread needs to sit and ferment for a long time, so mix the dough the night before you want the bread. Minimum time of 12 hours, but I once forgot about it and the dough sat for 20 hours before I got around to it. Both loaves turned out totally fine!
Ok, enough waiting around. Time to get your kitchen smelling like a Spanish bakery.
Mix together flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl.
Add water and stir until you get a sticky, goopy, blob. It’s very scientific.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 12-18 hours. The longer it sits the more time it will have to ferment and rise. This batch sat for 15 hours before I got to it:
At this point, the dough is very wet and sticky. Like, think back to how sticky your hand used to get when you would play with glue in elementary school. When you used to try to replicate your hand print with glue? No? Really? Alright… moving on.
Pro tip: Prep a sheet of parchment paper and put it off to the side before diving into the sticky blob in the bowl. Once you start handling the dough, you aren’t going to want to dig around in a drawer to get out the parchment paper, trust me. Lightly flour the counter’s surface and then wet your hands. Carefully slide the dough onto the surface and gently fold the ends in toward the middle, wetting your hands more as necessary. Flip the dough over onto the parchment paper so the folds are now at the bottom and you have a nice, smooth, rounded ball.
Cover and let sit for an additional 2 hours. The dough will continue to rise and should almost double in size. With 30 minutes left, prep your pot. Heat the oven to 450ºF and stick your covered pot inside.
Here’s what the dough looked like after 2 hours. Notice the giant air bubble? I can’t wait!
Lift the parchment paper and place bread inside the pot (yes, keep it on the parchment paper). Bake for 35 minutes covered and then an additional 10 minutes uncovered. Remove and let cool. This is what it looked like after baking:
Some other thoughts:
I’ve tried this recipe with a few types of flour. The whole wheat bread flour was a big denser than the regular bread flour. It was still DELICIOUS though, don’t get me wrong. Because of the density, I sliced it thinner than the other loaf, but that just meant I had more slices to enjoy!
Both recipes yielded about a 1 pound loaf. I sliced this whole wheat one into 12 large slices, and then each one of those slices I cut in half. Note: Not all the slices are pictured… I may have eaten a few while they were all steamy and warm….
This is what happened to the regular bread flour loaf. It became the bowl for the spinach-artichoke dip at my family’s Christmas. The bread was GONE in a matter of minutes, but luckily I had baked another whole separate loaf to cut into small dipping slices.
No Knead Bread