Recipe: Almost No-Knead Bread

Based on a recipe from January 2008 Cook's Illustrated and prepared for dinner on Sunday, July 29, 2012, and on many other days as well.

This is my favorite bread recipe, the one I use whenever I want a slightly tangy, crusty loaf of homemade bread. This loaf takes very little hand-on time to make but does require a little advance planning. The Cook's Illustrated recipe is based on the original developed by Jim Leahy and popularized by Mark Bittman in the New York Times. 


15 ounces bread flour (3 cups; all-purpose flour works well, too)
¼ teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1½ teaspoons table salt
7 ounces (¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons) room temperature water
3 ounces (¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons) mild-flavored lager
1 tablespoon white vinegar


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and yeast.
  2. Add the water, beer, and vinegar and stir until combined into a shaggy ball.
  3. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 8-18 hours, the longer it stands the more flavorful the bread will be.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly-floured work surface and knead it, but only 10 to 15 turns.
  5. Form the dough into a neat ball and place it on a piece of parchment paper which has been treated with baking spray.
  6. Spray the top of the dough with baking spray and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
  7. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
  8. Put a heavy dutch oven, with lid, onto the bottom rack of your oven.
  9. Thirty minutes before the dough has finished rising, turn on the oven, with the dutch oven inside, to 500°.
  10. When the oven and dough are ready, sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and make a ½″ deep slash across the top.
  11. Remove the lid from the dutch oven, using the parchment paper as a sling transfer the dough into the dutch oven, replace the lid, and reduce the oven temperature to 425°.
  12. Bake for 30 minutes then remove the lid and continue baking.
  13. Bake until the loaf is dark brown and the temperature in the center is 210°, 20-30 minutes.
  14. Cool on a wire rack for two hours.

Mix flour, salt, and instant yeast.

This plunger-style measuring cup graduated in liquid ounces is a convenient tool for measuring the liquid ingredients: water, beer, and vinegar.

The liquid ingredients are added to the flour mixture and then stirred to combine.

The resulting shaggy ball of dough is covered and left to rise at room temperature for 12-18 hours.

The bubbly risen dough is then kneaded briefly, formed into a ball, and left to rise for another two hours.

After rising, the loaf is scored and baked inside a covered dutch oven in a  very hot oven.

After 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake until golden brown with an internal temperature of 210°.

The finished loaf is crusty with a soft, open crumb and a slightly tangy flavor.

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