Simple Sundays | No-Knead Bread

My daughter poised her dainty nose over my wine glass and took a little sniff. I smell bread, she discerned. She and I share a keen sense of smell. I would dare say that our sense of smell is stronger than our sense of taste.…

Simple Sundays | No-Knead Bread

My daughter poised her dainty nose over my wine glass and took a little sniff. I smell bread, she discerned.

She and I share a keen sense of smell. I would dare say that our sense of smell is stronger than our sense of taste. I can breathe in the steam from a pot of soup and have a very good idea in which direction to go. I’m that friend who can smell your new perfume from several feet away. Of course, this can work against me – I am definitely more sensitive to the, well, more unpleasant smells that may surround us. Like wet dog. Burnt toast. Sweaty gyms.

But in general, there is strong nostalgia. The smell of burning leaves always takes me back to a family vacation in the Philippines, driving through the countryside. Roasted chestnuts transports me to the sidewalks of New York in the chill of winter. The aroma of bread rising, that live yeasty smell as it tackles the flour, brings me back to my mother’s kitchen on Saturday afternoons, when she would bake the day away.

Bread is such a staple, and so simple, I often wonder how the beautiful and therapeutic act of baking has been lost. There is something cathartic about watching the dough take life, and massaging it into the perfect loaf. But time is such a premium, to make bread takes a backseat and it is always simpler to buy it, whether a plastic wrapped loaf at the grocery shelf, or a crusty artisanal creation from the local baker.

Ever since Mark Bittman wrote about no-knead bread in 2006, I have been smitten with the idea of trying it. It took me nearly six years to turn that idea into a reality, a testament to how time has yet again, gotten the better of me. But after chatting with my dear friend Olivia (you may recall me talking about my supermom friend) and her success with no-knead bread, I was determined to finally tackle it.

In case you have never heard of it, the genius behind no-knead bread is allowing time to let yeast ever so slowly work its fermentation magic on a very wet dough. In essence, time kneads for you. It requires planning, but the process is fantastic because once you form your dough, you can literally forget about it until the next day when you are ready. Baking it in a Dutch oven gives the wet dough a perfect environment to transform into an amazing loaf. No, there is no playing with the dough, as the cathartic kneading is definitely eliminated, but you do get to breathe in that amazing doughy smell. Your kitchen will be perfumed with that comforting aroma of freshly baked bread.

And just look at what you will cut into:

A crisp crust you can knock on, that yields to your knife with a snap, and a pillow of tenderness within. Its amazing to think that with such minimal effort you can achieve such greatness.

Slices of warm, freshly baked bread made for a perfect treat — we all tackled it in our favorite ways. Plain. Strawberry jam. Butter and a sprinkle of salt. Goat cheese swirled with honey.

I may never buy bread again.

If you haven’t tried no-knead bread, you must! Click here for the recipe, as featured on The Minimalist, and innovated by Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery.


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  2. Kim

    I don’t know if I am the only one with this problem, but when I tried to move the bread into the hot pot the dough was so sticky that a good part of it ended up sticking to the towel I had wrapped it in. I anticipated this problem, as I have had it before, so I very generously floured the towel, but it still happened. Can anyone give me some advice?

    • Liren

      I have this problem, too. The wet dough is what makes this bread successful, but it does seem a shame that there is a lot of dough that sticks to the floured cloth. I’ve read that some let their dough rise in a lightly oiled bowl, and I have does this with traditional breads. The next time I made this, I’m going to try on a floured parchment paper. I’ll let you know how that goes.

      • Kim

        Sounds good. I have also thought of cutting back on the water by a few tablespoons (I noticed on the you tube video, the creator of the recipes says to add 1 1/2 cups of water, not 1 5/8) and maybe trying corn meal since that is what we use when we move our pizza crust off the paddle onto a hot stone. Thanks for your reply.

  3. Trevor from The Handicapped Kitchen

    I certainly share your love for smells and nostalgia. Sometimes, I become painfully nostalgic. I have to be really careful how long I dwell on memories, otherwise it becomes a complete mood killer.

    I also find making bread rather magical. I love it love it love it. Thank you for your article. I love being reminded why I love to bake. :)

  4. Priscilla - She's Cookin'

    You read my mind! I’ve been meaning to make this and was just looking at the recipe this morning – it’s from a different site, but I’m going to compare the two. Have a great week, Liren :)

  5. Sara

    Oh my goodness…my eyes are glued to my screen and I’m drooling! LOVE! I need to make this gorgeous bread!!! xo

  6. olivia

    I am so glad you made it & even gladder to have a shout-out!

    “I may never buy bread again.” You probably won’t. I don’t. If you need source for 50lb bags of flour, just let me know. I have tried a few places and have found some good sources.

  7. Jean

    Liren, your no-knead bread looks perfect. I fell in love with how easy the process is, too, and the aroma of fresh bread coming out of the oven can’t be beat. Hmm, I’ve been wanting to make bread–I should prepare a batch this week. :)

    BTW, just had to say that hubs is always saying that my sense of smell is so much better than his. I agree that can sometimes be a bad thing. :)

    Have a great week!

  8. Tobias @ T and Tea Cake

    Funny, I’ve just posted a recipe for breadrolls, claiming but this was the most fool-proof way of working with yeast. Yet apperently, I was wrong. This is even easier and you are SO right! There is nothing better than the smell of freshly baked bread!


  9. Nancy/SpicieFoodie

    Good for you for finally taking the challenge. I love baking bread, and no-knead is a favorite. Thanks for sharing, it turned out beautiful.

  10. myfudo

    I would love to try out a bread like this… Ready to welcome the scent of freshly baked bread in my kitchen, the whole house actually! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Suzanne

    Beautiful bread that makes me want to take a bite out of my screen here. I better go make my family some so they can enjoy the site, taste and smell :)

  12. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    Liren, this is beautiful!!! I love good bread and wish that I enjoy baking. I’m not comfortable yet about using yeast/dough…and baking hasn’t been “therapeutic” yet. =P One day…I wish to bake bread like this! :-)

  13. Kita

    There is nothing quite like the smell of yeast doing its thing. You know something good is coming. I love the no-knead recipe and really need to start baking more bread again. Maybe this is an excuse to by a Dutch oven. ;)

  14. Nelly Rodriguez

    What a gorgeous loaf! And I agree, I get into these bread phases and just bake every day. Until I notice the pounds packing…but still…I eat, I bake. Typing is a weight loss exercise, RIGHT?! :) Love the photos dear…

  15. Betty Ann @Mango_Queen

    This no-knead bread looks so delish! I can just smell the freshly-baked aroma all the way here! Must try this one. I love baking bread in the winter. Thanks for the recipe & inspiration, Liren!

  16. Holly

    I agree, something has been lost now that no one bakes their own bread. There’s nothing more satisfying than the smell of bread in the oven or the dough under your hands!

  17. Brian

    It’s a good thing I just ate a loaf of amazing bread, otherwise you’d have me craving some carbs. Looks amazing!

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