Learn to make two varieties of easy no-knead bread in your own kitchen, including a white loaf and a multigrain garlic and rosemary loaf.
If there is one gateway food to the homemade kitchen, I’d argue that it’s bread.
There is something both primal and dream-like about breadmaking, a unique combination of the physicality of kneading and shaping flowing into the hazy reminiscent nature of bygone eras and warm, golden kitchens on a Sunday morning.
There’s an empowerment and a humbleness to forming loaves and baking them at home. If you close your eyes, you can imagine your ancestors thousands of years ago, making bread from similar, if not the same, ingredients you’re sinking your hands into. We’ve created ready-made ingredients and have new methods, but in the end, breadmaking is still the same: combining, resting, rising, baking and eating.
For those looking to create their first kitchen staple from scratch, I’d humbly recommend bread as the place to start. The recipes I’ll be sharing with you today—a classic crusty bread and a delightfully savoury one—are the simplest recipes you’ll find short of pouring ingredients into an electric breadmaker.
But first, I wanted to clarify my stance on bread, the humble loaf that has for thousands of years sustained us and yet recently has ignited such fervent hostility.
I love bread. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that bread is the perfect accompaniment to a steaming bowl of beef stew in the middle of winter or the best gluten-rich trap for peanut butter and jelly, or even the most wonderful thing to slather in butter or dip in oil to eat as an indulgent treat.
But, bread has been demonized in recent years as this maleficent food that will give you acne, depression, anxiety, bloating, sluggishness and will make you gain 10 pounds in a day. For some people, some of those things may be true due to sensitivities or disease. But for most people, bread, enjoyed in moderation and chosen or baked with care, provides only happiness and a full belly. Bread sustains us.
I don’t endorse eating bread in obscene quantities, or even with every meal. To someone like me who is actively trying to lose weight, bread is a treat just like dessert. I bake a high-quality loaf at home, decide when I will enjoy it and then eat it without regret, dabbing it in a slick pool of healthy fat-rich olive oil and beads of balsamic vinegar, savouring every last crumb.
I lick my fingertips clean and settle in with a good book, content with my choices and happily sated with carbs.
So please, don’t be afraid of bread. And, don’t be afraid of breadmaking. Anyone can do it. Now, scroll down to the two recipes below to see how you can make no-knead bread two ways—a lighter, more traditional white loaf (shown in the sliced bread photo above) and a darker multigrain loaf with roasted garlic and rosemary (shown below). Happy breadmaking, friends.
For the No-Knead White Loaf:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. instant yeast
- 1 and ½ cups warm water
- Measure flour, salt and yeast into a large bowl; whisk until combined. Pour in warm water and stir with a wooden spoon until cohesive. Your dough will look shaggy and like it needs water. This is normal.
- Cover bowl firmly with plastic wrap and leave to rest in a slightly warmer area of the house (I use my laundry room) overnight.
- The next day, prepare a surface such as a counter or a cutting board with a few generous sprinkles of flour. Grab your bowl, unwrap it (but keep the plastic handy), and peel the dough out onto the floured surface. Sprinkle a small amount of flour on top of the dough. Grabbing one side of the dough (it doesn't matter which), fold over itself once or twice.
- Using the plastic wrap (the side that doesn't have condensation on it), gently cover the dough and let rest for 15 minutes. Grab two clean tea towels and generously flour one of them while laying flat; set aside for now.
- After 15 minutes, start shaping your dough into a ball. I do this by grabbing sides and folding in the centre quickly, as if I were capturing something in the centre. Once all the sides have been folded into the centre, quickly flip over so the smooth, even side is face-up and seams are face-down, and place on the floured tea towel. Sprinkle a bit of flour on top.
- Cover with the other tea towel and let rest at least 2 hours, or until doubled in size. This might take more than 2 hours if it's winter or cold in your kitchen. I recommend leaving the rising dough next to a warm oven or somewhere warm to speed it up. Alternatively, if it doesn't fully double and you've got places to be, go ahead and proceed with the next step. It will still be delicious, just smaller.
- About 20 minutes before your dough will be ready, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. As soon as you set the temperature, place your Dutch/French oven inside the oven, lid on, to heat up. You need a Dutch oven that is at least 5.3L. (I use a larger one, and mine is oval as compared to round. If you find your dough is too rounded for your oval Dutch oven, just gently shape it into a more oval shape and it will fit.)
- Once the oven has preheated fully, take the Dutch oven out and remove lid. Now comes the messy part. Take the top tea towel off the dough, and slide your hand underneath the second tea towel to pick up the dough ball. Flour will go everywhere. I recommend quickly and carefully shaking excess flour off in the sink. Then, transfer the dough to the Dutch oven by flipping it so that the seam-side is facing up and the smooth side is facing down in the Dutch oven. The dough may stick to the towel slightly, just peel it off and use more flour on the towel next time.
- Cover the Dutch oven with its lid and let bake, covered, for 30 minutes. After that, remove the lid and let bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the top is medium to dark brown. The loaf will sound hollow when tapped.
- Let cool completely on a wire rack and then slice with a strong and sharp serrated knife. Congrats, you just made bread!
For the No-Knead Multigrain Garlic and Rosemary Loaf:
The steps are the same as the recipe above, but require some work beforehand.
First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grab two heads of garlic (yes, whole heads) and peel away some the papery outer skin, leaving just enough so that the head doesn’t fall apart. With a sharp knife, cut off the top 1/4 inch of the head so that all the cloves are visible. Prepare a foot by foot piece of tin foil and place the cloves on it, cut side up.
Drizzle 2 tsp. or more of olive oil over each head, ensuring all the cloves get covered. Wrap up with tin foil around the heads to make a little nest, completely covering them. No need for steam holes, cover them right up.
Place on a middle rack in the oven without a baking sheet and let bake for 40 minutes. Unwrap and see how they’re doing. Bake for an additional 10-20 minutes or until golden and soft. (Mine were good after 50 minutes).
Take out of oven and unwrap, letting cool quickly in the freezer.
Now, while the garlic is cooling, prepare the bread recipe above, but substitute 2 cups multigrain bread flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour, plus 1.5 tbsp. dried rosemary. Add in the garlic by squeezing the bottom of the heads upside down to make the soft cloves come out. Continue with the recipe. Voila.
Basic no-knead bread recipe adapted lightly from Le Creuset.