Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Baking No-Knead Peasant Bread

Many, many years ago, when I was in college, I decided to try baking bread.  I had never made bread, but the recipe for basic white bread seemed simple enough.  I added the yeast to the flour and added some sugar and salt and poured warm water, mixed it all up and waited for the dough to rise.  Except, it didn't.  I think my warm water was too hot and I killed the yeast!  Unwilling to admit defeat, I added the rest of the flour, kneaded it, and hoping it would rise in the oven, I dumped all the dough (it was supposed to make 2 loaves) into one loaf pan and baked myself a brick!  My roommates had a lot of fun with our new "doorstop", saying it would make a good weapon against any intruders.

Since then, I've longed to make bread from scratch, but felt too intimidated and resorted to frozen bread dough from the grocery store.

Then, I read about no-knead bread, which was left to rise overnight.  I wanted to try it, except, the bread was supposed to be baked in a Dutch oven and I didn't have one.  Nor did I want to buy one.  So, I gave up that idea.

And then, I read about a no-knead peasant bread that didn't need to rise overnight and which didn't need baking in a Dutch oven on another blog called Alexandra's Kitchen.  I got all excited about trying it and bought some new yeast.  I bought active dry yeast, which came in a package of 3 individual packets. 

Here is the recipe I followed:

1 lb. 2 oz (4 cups) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups lukewarm water (I followed the tip to mix 1/2 C boiling water and 1 1/2 C cold water)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 packet active-dry yeast
room temperature butter, about 2 tablespoons

I chose to weigh my flour, rather than measure it, because I store my flour in the freezer and it tends to get compacted.  After I weighed it, I left it in a bowl to come to room temperature and stirred in the salt.

Then, I mixed 1/2 C boiling water with 1 1/2 C cold water to obtain my 2 cups of lukewarm water, stirred in the 2 tsp. sugar and sprinkled the packet of active dry yeast on top:

Lukewarm water with sugar and yeast
I set it aside for 20 minutes which was a bit longer than called for in the recipe (10-15 mins.) for the yeast to proof:

Blurry Photo of Foamy Yeast

Clearer Photo of Foamy Yeast
 I guess I wanted to make sure the yeast was alive and would do its job!

Then, I added the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and stirred it all up:

Just Mixed Bread Dough
 And covered the bowl with plastic wrap and left it in a warm spot (on a dining chair near the window, in the sun) to rise until doubled in size (1st rising).  This is how it looked after 1 hr. 15 mins.:

Risen Bread Dough - 1st Rising
 Definitely doubled in size, wouldn't you say? 

Then, I buttered the dishes in which to bake my bread.  The original recipe called for two small (1 L or 1.5 L) bowls.  My two smaller oven-proof bowls were sent up north with my daughter for her use.  So, I used a 1.9 L casserole dish (flat bottom) and a loaf pan, instead.  The original recipe stated to use all the dough if using a larger bowl, but I wasn't sure how well the bread would bake (it would be just my luck to have a perfectly baked outside and raw dough in the middle!), so, decided to divide the dough and take the consequences of it not rising as much in the larger bowl.

Buttered Baking Pans

 Then, I punched down the risen dough, scraping the sides with two forks as instructed:

Punched Down Dough After 1st Rising
 I halved the dough and put into the two buttered pans and left them to rise for a second time:

Dough In Pans For 2nd Rising

I let them rise for about 40 minutes, until the dough in the loaf pan was just above the rim and the dough in the casserole dish was about an inch below the rim.  Then, baked them in a pre-heated oven at 425F for 15 minutes; then lowered the temperature to 375F and baked for another 15 minutes:

Just Out of the Oven
 The bread was tipped out on to the cooling rack; the round bread is shown upside down:

Freshly Baked Bread

Bread Baking Success!

 It smelled so good!  We couldn't wait the recommended 10 minutes for it to cool!  We had to cut into it while it was still hot from the oven!  Spread with some butter, which melted because the bread was still hot, it was wonderful!  Crispy crust and chewy inside.  Daughter and I finished half of the round loaf! 

After Cutting the 1st Slice
I started the whole process at 1:00 p.m. and the bread was taken out of the oven at 4:35 p.m. and we were eating the freshly baked bread by 4:40 p.m.! 

I will be making this bread again in the future.  I might experiment with adding some herbs to the bread or making bread rolls.  I think I'll be buying a lot more flour and yeast, in the future!  I am so happy to have found this recipe!  Thank you to the original poster of the recipe, the detailed instructions, photos and videos.

The only item I had to buy to make this bread was the yeast, which cost $2.39 for the 3 packets.  I used one packet, so the cost of yeast for this batch of bread was $.80.  The flour was bought on sale, $1.99/5 lb. so, the 1 lb. 2 oz. of flour used came to $.45.  The cost of the sugar and salt is negligible; perhaps $.05?  Add another $.12 for the 2 tbsp. butter ($2/lb; $.50 for 1/4 lb. or one stick; 8 tbsp. per stick) to grease the pans and the cost of ingredients come to under $1.50.  Plus the cost of baking.  My oven is gas and I don't know how much it costs to preheat and bake for 1 hour.  If I estimate $1 to $2, the cost of baking the 2 loaves of bread will be $2.50 to $3.50.  Not bad, I think, for 2 loaves of homemade bread.  Especially when you know what went into making it. 

Have you made no-knead bread?  Do you think you might try this recipe?  


  1. Your bread looks delicious! I would definitely try it. I don't mind kneading the bread dough when I make it, but I would be interested in trying it this way. I like the way you detailed the whole process out with pictures and descriptions. Thank you for sharing this recipe! :)

    1. Dawn, thank you for your kind comments. If you make this bread, let me know if you like it. I am feeling brave enough to try making some regular (kneaded) bread, too! One of these days. LOL.

  2. Your bread looks so good.. [I can never wait for it to cool either...smells too good.ha] And that is when it taste the best...
    I have a bread machine, so I normally do it in that..
    I think I will try this recipe too.thanks for sharing.

    1. I've considered getting a bread machine, but didn't want yet another kitchen appliance. Not enough storage space as it is. Let me know what you think of the bread, if you make it. :)

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks, Jess. It tastes pretty good, too! :)

  4. I enjoy making bread and rolls. I gave in and bought a hardly used bread machine at Goodwill for a few dollars which resulted in making a small loaf of bread nearly daily. Problem was we were then eating a small loaf of bread or batch of rolls daily. That resulted in skirts and slacks getting uncomfortably tight in the waist. When I couldn't get into a new, never worn pair of jeans bought the previous season I declared End of daily Home Baked Bread.

    A short time later DSIL mentioned she was buying a bread machine. We were driving up to her city the following weekend so I said she could try out the machine for the summer to see if she liked the resulting product.

    Last time we were up there, I noticed the bread machine was stored in her basement pantry. Neither of us mentioned bread machine. I learned you can gain weight a lot faster and easier than you can lose it...particularly when you get past a certain age.

    1. Hon, that's too funny! But I agree - freshly baked bread is irresistible. And I am the type of person who will eat it if it is there. I won't be buying a bread machine, however, I do see myself baking a new batch of this no-knead bread every couple of weeks, until it gets too hot to turn on the oven.


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