No-Knead Loaf Bread

No Knead Bread in Loaf Pan
Loaf of No Knead Bread. Photo: Diana Rattray

Most yeast breads require kneading, which makes the bread light and airy, with a consistency that is just right. But those recipes take time, and a little bit of work. Lucky for us there is a way to make crusty and delicious bread, with lots of wonderful air holes, without kneading the dough.

This is a bread you could easily make several times a week with surprisingly little effort. The ingredients take less than 5 minutes to measure or weigh and mix, and the bread is shaped and deposited in the loaf pan in less than 2 minutes. This loaf is perfect for slicing to make toast, french toast, or cold or grilled sandwiches, and, as a bonus, it is a lean bread with no added fat. 

Total Hands-On Time:

7 to 10 minutes

Rising and Baking Time:

5 1/2 hours

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour (measured using the dip and sweep method)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast (also called "rapid rise")
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Optional: 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups room temperature water

Procedure

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar, if using. With whisk or spoon, blend well. 
  2. Add the water and stir with a wooden spoon (or use your hands) until mixed and dry ingredients are moistened.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a draft-free place for 4 hours.
  4. Butter an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan.
  5. Scrape the dough out onto a well-floured surface, such as a silicone mat, parchment paper, or a cutting board.
  6. With floured hands, coax the dough into a rough rectangle about 8 1/2- by 12-inches, while adding small amounts of flour if needed to keep it from sticking to the surface. Try to handle the dough gently so it won't deflate too much. You want lots of little air bubbles through the loaf.
  7. Gently fold the ends over each other to form a rough loaf shape. Drop into the prepared pan. Cover loosely with a clean, lightweight dish towel and set in a draft-free place for 1 hour, or until it is approximately double in size.
  8. Heat the oven to 425 F (218 C).
  9. With a sifter or fine-mesh sieve, dust the loaf with a little more flour.
  10. Bake for 25 minutes, until deep golden brown. The loaf should sound hollow when tapped.
  11. Remove from the oven and turn the bread out onto a rack to cool completely before slicing with a sharp serrated knife or electric knife. 

Tips and Variations

You can refrigerate the dough overnight after the first rising, then bring to room temperature on baking day and proceed with forming it into a loaf shape.

If you make bread frequently, you might want a rising container that will let you see the doubling of the dough with more accuracy.

Instead of the sugar, this bread can be made with honey, or no sweetener at all.