No Knead Bread

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I am getting some black areas on the top of my bread after it comes out of the dutch oven in the oven. They are several inches long and are just like a black streak about the size of a finger. It happened the last two loafs I have made. Only happens in the emile henry dutch oven. Any thoughts?

I am just getting started and making a ton of mistakes. I am having the most trouble shaping the boule. Today I tried shaping it and then letting it rise in a proofing basket for 1.5 hours. Then I flipped it onto a floured board so that I could score the top before sliding it into the dutch oven. When I flipped it onto the floured board, it hadn’t retained any shape from the proofing basket and was just a big blob. Any advice?

For the most part, no-knead recipes are too wet to be able to do much in the way of shaping. It can be a real struggle at first to get the hang of handling such wet dough. Here is a pretty good video which might help with some ideas:

Keep at it and you will learn your own way of dealing with it.

When I am making a wet no-knead recipe, I don’t expect it to hold much shape after the second proof, so I always bake them in my Romertopf clay baker with very high sides and I turn the dough out directly from the proofing basket into the pre-heated clay baker and then score it (to whatever degree you can score such wet dough) in the baker before putting the top on.

To get a feel for the range of possibilities, you might also want to experiment with reducing the amount of water in your recipe so that it is about 60% (by weight) of the amount of flour you are using and then do a bit of kneading in the mixing bowl. You’ll find that the dryer dough is a lot easier to handle and shape. With that data point on one end and the full wet no-knead on the other, you can mess around with different hydration levels and see what fits your desires and expectations.

Ok, I was given a started from a friend and made some bread last weekend. I was planning on making bread this weekend but on Friday when I went to take my starter out of the fridge I noticed it was kind of frozen. I took it out of the fridge and let it thaw. I fed it some flour and water yesterday but today it is very loose and runny. I’m afraid I may have killed my started. Help! What do I do?

I’d keeping feeding it every 12 hrs. If it’s not moldy, you’ll either revive it or start a new starter. (Discard part of it when it gets too big.)

I’ve discovered dozens of times the 15 minute uncovered 450 bake at the end is way too long. Even in my crappy stove which ran cold, it was more like 8 minutes before it started burning. Now with my dual fuel Wolf, it’s more like 5 minutes before it starts burning.

I’m a first time bread baker and used this recipe with an enameled cast iron Dutch oven and some starter I got from an acquaintance who does a lot of bread baking. The starter sat around for a while and then I fed it for a couple days before baking and it was looking good. Proofed for maybe 16 hours and after second proof - which I extended to 2 hours because it wasn’t rising much - put in oven at specified temps and times. The bread didn’t oven proof and it burned badly on the bottom and stuck to the pan. Was I supposed to grease it? Were temps too high for my oven. Is my starter not lively enough? Seems everyone else here finding this process super easy and successful. Any help appreciated.

Those are some of the possibilities. May have over proofed too. The hard part is knowing which issue or combination of issues are at play and to what extent.

Theoretically, if your starter is rising well after feeding and it looks good (spongy and lively) and smells good, then your bread should rise well also. If your starter is healthy then I’d look at the proofing times. You might want to get an oven thermometer to check if the oven thermostat is working. If it is, then easy enough to lower the baking temp. Another thing that many people find effective for preventing the bottoms of loaves from burning is putting a cookie sheet on the rack level immediately below your Dutch oven.

Thanks, Eric, for taking the time to respond. I am going to try proofing it 10 hours instead of 16 and checking oven temp. I will let you know how this goes. Love your site!


I’ve had bulk fermentation take as little as 8 hrs and as much as 16 hrs. It depends on your room and water temp (as well as flour type, starter strength and amount, and more).

I think it is best to look at the dough rather than the clock. When it is ready, there should be some bubbles/holes on the top, and if you use a clear container, look through the sides to see if some of the holes are close to the size of peas. I just took a pic of not-ready at 12hrs, and in about two hours, I’ll take a pic of ready, and then I’ll post both pics.

I don’t get much of a rise during the proofing stage. To know when that is done, I poke. If the hole barely rebounds, it’s time to preheat the oven.

I’m pretty new to this, so if someone disagrees with anything I’ve said, please speak up!

Choc-cherry sourdough two hrs before I figured bulk fermentation was done.

Two and a half hrs later, bubbles on top, figure it’s done, 14.5 hrs total, 65-68’ house

Thanks, this is very helpful. I will look for this on my next batch.

You’re welcome. Good luck! Post how it goes. Here’s a pic of my bread from that dough :slight_smile:

Here is a photo of the dough after its first proofing (about 11 hours - maybe could have waited for a bit more bubbles) and what it looked like coming out of the oven. Much better than my last batch - on only the second try! Thanks for the help.

That looks beautiful. I bet it tastes great too.

I’ve never made bread before and this recipe turned out wonderfully – I didn’t manage to shape the loaf very much (my final proof was just a glass bowl, and it stuck a tiny bit, so I scraped gently with a rubber spatula and it rolled out ok), but the Romertopf somehow turned my dough-monster beautiful!
It was crackling when I took it out, does it always do that? The sound made me hungry but I must save the loaf for dinner…

The clay baker I used was my grandma’s (used a lot) and all I did was pre-heat at 450f and sprinkle some flour in before adding the dough, and it was awesome.

PS, one last tip. A friend advised that instead of instant yeast I should use the regular kind, so I followed the instructions on the packet to give it the warm water but also a teaspoon of sugar, and let grow for 10 mins. Not sure if that might help some issues with the dough not rising or fermenting properly, but it’s worth a shot.

Can’t wait to dig in! Cronch, cronch.

That is a beautiful loaf of bread - you’d never guess it was your first!

Hi! If what you are referring to is a very dark brown/black toasting color then you have, to me, a great bake! It’s one of the benefits of cast iron. Flavor equals color. So, as long as it isn’t REALLY burning, you’ve done a good thing.

Hi everyone,
I received a clay baker for Christmas and have been obsessed with this method ever since. I haven’t made any other type of bread. I also make Greek yogurt and wanted to see if i could use the whey as a replacement for the water in the recipe.
I replaced it one for one and it turned out fantastic. I took it to a party and everyone raved over it. Some even thought it was sourdough bread.
If you are like me and want to use the whey from yogurt making, instead if dumping it down the drain, use it in this no-knead bread recipe.
I’m sure you will be pleased with the results.
Sourdoughish Bread
3 cups white bread flour (i have not tried other flours yet)
1/4 tsp yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups whey from plain unsweetened Greek yogurt
If you don’t make yogurt… Buy a quart ot two of plain, unsweetened yogurt and drain it through cheese cloth or something similar into a bowl. The whey will drip out and the yogurt will thicken like Greek yogurt. After a few hours you will have thick yogurt in the cheese cloth and whey in the bowl.
Follow no-knead method.

I also use parchment paper to rest the dough after shaping. The parchment paper is also helpful in lowering the dough into the hot dish.