Best-Ever No-Knead Bread (or It Will Change Your Life)

best-ever no-knead bread

In less than a day from now, this newlywed will be in Cabo San Lucas for a heavenly week with her husband, Christopher.

Sun, sand and more naturally acquired vitamin D than you can shake a sombrero at; if I were any more excited, I probably wouldn’t be allowed into the country.

What makes it all the more special though, is that it’s our honeymoon.  And not just that, but the eve of our one year wedding anniversary.

Photo by Taylor S.

Photo by Taylor S.

I.E.  When this newlywed officially becomes a One Year Wife.  And it’s amazingly, heart-swellingly nice.

It has been a beautiful, difficult, wonderful first year.

And a year of loss too.

They don’t ever tell you that in wedding magazines but it’s true.  No manual for that part of newlywed life but there should be.

Image from TheWhiteDress.Com

Image from TheWhiteDress.Com

You see, when we get married, we have to let go of the life we’ve had up to that point in order to begin the one we’ve eagerly walked down the aisle to.

We must then mourn the life we’ve left, at the same time we’re waking up each morning to our best friend.

You can see then how the first year can then be so oftentimes so confusing and frightening.

Image from Commons.Wikimedia.Org

Image from Commons.Wikimedia.Org

Yet — along with the sad and darkness — it was a beautiful, wonderful first year too.

I got to start my very own, brand new family of two with my best friend.

Image from BuzzFeed.Com

Image from BuzzFeed.Com

And laugh every day.

And among learning so many things — and much about myself — I learned that marriage is much like making good, artisan bread.

You must tend to it at exactly the right time and give it a chance to rise (which at times means leaving it alone and not fussing with it).

And yet you can’t just forget about it and expect it to turn out right.

It requires attention.

Patience, a gentle hand and tenderness.

(A little bit of cultured butter doesn’t hurt either).

butter

Just the right amount of heat …

Lots and lots of love …

Making the other person’s needs just as important as your own …

And always seeking to understand, above all.

Ursula K. LeGuin said it best,

Love does not just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.

And if you tend to it right, it rewards you with the most wonderful of gifts.  Itself.  And the heart and trust of another.

And the very best ones — like the one I find myself a year later so blessed enough to have — help you rise higher in so many more ways than you ever thought you could.

best-ever no-knead bread

Best-Ever No-Knead Bread

Inspired by Jeffrey Steingarten‘s version of Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread (Vogue Magazine – May 2007)

Simply put, like the very best of marriages, this recipe will change your life.  And without even needing a single lick of kneading to do it.

Makes one 1 1/2 pound artisan loaf

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons warm water (heated to 100 – 110 Degrees F)
1/4 cup coarse wheat bran
salted butter, for serving

In a large stock pot with lid — using a wooden spoon — mix all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sea salt and yeast together until well combined.

Add in warmed water and — using a wooden spoon — work ingredients together for about 30 seconds until rough, sticky dough forms and flour is no longer visible.

Cover stock pot with plastic wrap, then with lid and let dough rise for 18 hours at warm room temperature (around 70 Degrees F).

Heavily flour clean work surface with flour — dough will be very wet and sticky — and with your hands, invert pot and gently pull dough out onto flour.

Dust dough generously with more flour and working quickly, gently stretch dough into rough 10-inch square.  Fold square into thirds.  It will now look roughly like a long rectangle.

Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let sit for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, spread a clean cotton kitchen towel onto clean work surface and rub a generous amount of flour into half of towel.  Sprinkle a generous amount of wheat bran over flour.

Note:  The flour and wheat bran will prevent the dough from sticking to it, so be sure not to skip this step and be extra generous with both!

Starting with one of the narrow ends of your dough rectangle, fold dough into thirds again.  Your dough should now look roughly cube-shaped.

Then very gently — with lightly floured hands — stretch top layer of dough over seams on sides and tuck under, transferring your now-round loaf to the flour/bran-middle of your prepared towel.

Sprinkle generously with more wheat bran, cover lightly with other half of towel — and with plastic wrap — and let rise for another 2 hours.

One hour into second rising, place a 6 – 8 quart cast iron pot with lid onto middle rack of oven and turn oven temperature to 500 Degrees F.

Note:  The cast iron pot is a key piece of equipment here, folks.  Without it, the recipe just won’t work, so make sure to use one.

An hour later, place a large baking sheet in center of bottom rack of oven.  Close oven door.

Note:  This will create a barrier and prevent the bottom of loaf from burning.

Remove plastic wrap and towel from loaf.  Then crack open the windows and keep them open (I’m super-duper serious), it’s going to get steamy, real quick.

Then — working quickly and very carefully — remove pot from oven, place on stove top and — using a kitchen towel — very carefully remove lid while looking away.

Working very quickly now, slide hand under towel, lift towel up along with your loaf and quickly invert into pot.  Shake pot if necessary to straighten loaf and cover pot with lid.

Transfer pot back to center of middle rack of oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Carefully remove lid and bake loaf for another 15 – 25 minutes uncovered and until loaf is nice and dark brown.

Remove pot from oven and place loaf on wire cooling rack to cool until barely warm to the touch.

Note:  As unbelievably tempting as it may be to just rip into your fresh-from-the-oven bread, I urge you to dig deep and wait.  Bread develops a great deal of its awesome flavor as it cools, from the crust.  The flavors migrate inward as it cools.

Cut into slices using a serrated knife, serve with your favorite butter and …

Enjoy!

Announcement:  As I will be on my honeymoon, Small Kitchen Chronicles and yours truly will be on hiatus through March 27th.  As such, I will get back to all your lovely comments when I return.  ‘Til then, have a wonderful week, everybody, and see you all back here soon!

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39 thoughts on “Best-Ever No-Knead Bread (or It Will Change Your Life)

  1. Wish you both a happy honeymoon! Congrats on your first wedding anniversary too! You are right about no knead bread as it also require things important in a marriage. I’ve been planning to make some no knead bread this week so I will try this version.

  2. What a lovely picture of you two! Such a cute couple. And this bread…glad you had success with it! The first (and only) time I made it, I somehow missed the fact that the Dutch oven was a crucial component to the recipe. I made it in a glass pyrex pan and it was. a. fail. Anyway. Yay you and hope you have a fantastic trip!!

    • Thank you, Ms. Erika!

      And, yes, the cast iron pot is a crucial piece of equipment; without it, it’s pretty much a bust. But I so encourage you to give it a go again, girl, with the cast iron pot. The ones made by Lodge are so cheap and awesome and the technique makes you feel like a super baker =)

      And thanks for the trip well-wishes too, Erika, it was wonderful =)

      xo

    • Thanks so much, Kenley, I really appreciate that and all the wonderful wishes =) The honeymoon was wonderful, thank you, and most importantly, happy early anniversary to you!

      Warmest wishes, Kenley, and thanks for stopping by =)

  3. You two are such a lovely couple! Your words about first year of marriage are so beautiful but true – there are no instruction for marriage but so many for weddings that last only one day… Anyway, have a wonderful honeymoon, enjoy every minute of it!!!
    Bread is a very nice symbol of everything your wrote about the marriage…

    • Hello, my dear, Irena! Thanks for stopping by, lovely, and thank you for the thoughtful words and lovely wishes! The honeymoon was wonderful, thank you — very relaxing, sun-filled and special — a great way to kick off moving into our now 2nd year of marriage =)

      Hope you are well, dear Irena! Big hugs =)

      xo

  4. Aw, happy anniversary and happy honeymoon! I wish you all the happiness in the world! What a wonderful post too. I have always failed makind good bread, perhaps I should try this some day!

    • Darya! So nice to hear from you, lovely! Thanks for stopping by and for all the lovely wishes; you made my heart swell! And so glad you enjoyed the post. And, yes, definitely give this bread a try some day; I am confident that you will just adore it =)

      Hugs and warmest wishes!

      xo

  5. Great LeGuin quote! Butter seems to help a great many things, in my experience…
    Enjoy the sun! Congratulations on your anniversary! Oh, how I long for vitamin D… Someday, soon, I hope we will have less snow and more sun…

    • Oh, thank you so much, Anne! It’s always such a treat hearing from you, dear one =) Cabo was lovely and incredibly special, and just the thing to kick off our 2nd year of marriage =) Big hugs back, Anne, thanks so much for stopping by! Hope you are well =)

      xo!

  6. What a beautiful post Christina – so heartfelt and touching. Hope you have having a blast in Cabo and throwing back a few margaritas around the pool! Can’t wait to try making this bread as I am terrible at figuring out how much to knead dough. xo

    • Thank you, Lindsay; I am so glad you liked it and thank you so much for the wonderful, heartfelt wishes =) Cabo was a blast and though I didn’t have a margarita, I did corner the market on chicken quesadillas and strawberry daiquiris!

      And yes, the bread! You know, I think we’re all winging it when it comes to figuring out how much to knead dough … unless we’re lucky enough to be one of those master bakers (or studied under one) =) The cool thing about this technique though, is now, you don’t have to =)

      Big hugs, Lindsay, hope all is well with you! xo

  7. Great post. Not only about the yummy-sounding bread, but what it’s like that first year of marriage. Honest, authentic. Well written. 🙂

  8. Wow, Christina, I love this post. So beautiful! I hope you both had a great time on your trip, and you continue to enjoy your journey of marriage, friendship… and delicious food!

  9. Congratulations Christina (and your hubby) on your one year anniversary! What a beautiful couple you two make. And the bread looks beautiful too! I’ve made the no knead bread before, but never thought of adding in wheat bran. What a great idea for adding in extra fiber! Thanks so much for the recipe.

    • Thank you so much, Rose, and so nice to hear from you! Christopher and I both really appreciate the wonderful wishes and kind words; thank you! Yes, the wheat bran; it also imparts a great flavor and prevents things from sticking — so you could say, a double (or should I say, triple) bonus =) Thanks for stopping by, Rose; hope all is well!

      xo

  10. Congrats and I hope you had a wonderful honeymoon!!

    Also, I’ve been trying multiple variations and experiments lately with No Knead Bread myself, I think I may try your flour proportions listed here next (My half whole wheat was missing something it seemed). Still looking for my perfect loaf, so thanks for the inspiration once again!

    Cheers!

    • Thanks so much, Nic; we did! Must have been all those wonderful wishes =)

      Yes, please do try the flour proportions listed here (and you are most welcome; glad to provide inspiration!). I have found that using too much whole wheat makes a bread too heavy. You need to get it just right, but I think much of the fun is in the experimentation, don’t you think? =)

      Warmest wishes to you, Nic! Stop back on by and let me know how things turned out =)

      Christina

  11. This is such an incredibly insightful post Christina. My husband and I experienced the same thing in regards to our marriage. We’ll be reaching our two year wedding anniversary in November (yay!) but we’re still teasing out residual issues that come with the adjustment of merging two very close but separate lives into one new family unit 🙂
    The continued adjustment was a little weird and unexpected, as both of us were living together for about a year before we got married. We thought we’d already worked through the the bulk of the adjustment stage but… nope! Definitely not! I think the fact that we both went back to work two days after getting hitched didn’t help. It was a bit of an anticlimax (we also had our honeymoon some months later) and we didn’t get proper time to settle into our new roles. But besides the letting go, the added compromise, the grief and loss… both of us agree that it’s 100% worth it 🙂 Congratulations to you and Chris for reaching year one!! Hope that you had a beautiful time away together… and there are so many more exciting days to come 🙂 Hugs to you beautiful! xx

    • I’m so glad and thank you so much, Laura! You know, if they’re being honest, I think most people experience much the same as we did. I was nodding in agreement as I read your comment; all that you wrote is so true. And it is so worth it =) Thank you so much for your kind wishes and congratulations to you too, Laura (and happy early 2 year wedding anniversary to you)!

      Hugs back to (just as beautiful) you =)

      xo!

      • Naw, thank you so much lovely. I do agree with you. I could say so much more but I’d clog up your comments feed! I’m happy for both of us and the journey we have ahead! Thanks for the early anniversary love xx

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