A Clever Variation of an “Old” Theme

My hat is off to CooksIllustrated.com for formulating a worthy variation to the now famous New York Times no knead recipe. They call it their “Almost No Knead” bread since it involves a bit of light kneading, but another key step in the process is streamlined so overall their recipe is still a cinch to make.

If you’re already familiar with the “traditional” no knead recipe, I think you will find the final results of this one significantly different in almost all respects. This crust has a nice crunch to it but is much thinner and easier to chew and the interior crumb is tighter (smaller holes) and softer. I wouldn’t classify this bread as “rustic” like I would the NYT version.

But what really sets this recipe apart is its flavor. The addition of a few ounces of beer and a tablespoon of white vinegar creates a unique and pleasing flavor all its own.

In these videos I cover the Cooks Illustrated plain white flour and whole wheat flour versions.

This recipe also converts extremely well to sandwich loaf bread. In the third video below, I do just that.

I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of this bread – please leave your comments below.

Update: See Virginia’s comment post of 8/22/08. She made a few changes to get great results with a rye version (click link) of this recipe.

Cook’s Illustrated Almost No Knead Bread
Cook’s Illustrated Almost No Knead Bread

If you’re familiar with the “traditional” no knead recipe, I think you will find the results of this significantly different. This crust has a nice crunch to it but is much thinner and easier to chew and the interior crumb is tighter (smaller holes) and softer.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 18 hours

Yield: 1 Loaf


    White Flour Recipe
  • 3 cups (15 ounces) all purpose or bread flour
  • 1/4 tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. (7 ounces) water at room temp
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. (3 ounces) mild flavored lager
  • 1 Tbs. white vinegar
  • Whole Wheat Recipe
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all purpose or bread flour
  • 1 cup (5 ounces) whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs. honey (I used 2 Tbs. raw sugar)
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. (7 ounces) water at room temp
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. (3 ounces) mild flavored lager
  • 1 Tbs. white vinegar


Follow directions in videos.

Baking Instructions: For both these recipes, preheat your oven with Dutch oven or Cloche inside to 500 degrees. Reduce temperature to 425 when the bread dough goes in and bake covered for 30 minutes. Then remove cover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until the internal bread temperature reaches about 200 degrees.


The beer can be non-alcoholic. Also, regarding the use of sugar and the ratio of white to whole wheat flour in the ‘Whole Wheat’ recipe, see the post from Beatrix below. She used 2 cups of whole wheat flour and 1 of white and it still came out light.



Almost No Knead Sandwich Loaf Recipe

The thinner crust and softer, tighter crumb of the Almost No Knead recipe, combined with its subtle flavors, makes it a nice candidate for a sandwich loaf. Here’s a video of the process with the the adjusted ingredient quantities.

18 ounces (~3 2/3 cups) flour. Use all white or a combination of white and up to 6 ounces whole wheat.
1 3/4 tsp salt
3/8 tsp. instant yeast

1 cup (8 ounces) water
1/2 cup (4 ounces) beer

1 1/4 Tbs white vinegar
2 1/2 Tbs honey
(I use raw sugar instead). The honey is suggested only when baking the whole wheat version of this recipe.

Baking Instructions: Preheat oven to 425. Place bread pan with risen dough in oven and reduce temperature to 350. Bake for 55 minutes or until internal bread temperature is about 200 degrees. Note that in the video I’m using a Pyrex bread pan. A metal bread pan would probably bake a few minutes faster.

Note: some have reported an issue with the loaf sticking to the bread pan. After buttering/oiling the baking pans, cornmeal can be sprinkled liberally on the insides and bottom of the pans. This eliminates the bread sticking to the sides while baking. Thanks to Tom & Melody DeGraziano for this tip.

Cook’s Illustrated Almost No Knead Bread

Comments from our Forum

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  1. alipaige says:

    I'm excited to try the sandwich version of this! One question- I'm concerned about how long this bread will keep as it will take my family a couple of days to get through a loaf. I have added ascorbic acid to bread in the past as a preservative- do you think that will alter the results? I may just try it and see what happens, but I thought I would ask first : )

  2. Eric says:

    A couple days seems pretty quick (to go through a loaf of bread) to me. Have you had issues with some breads going south on you in that short a time? I think this particular bread should hold up just fine for a few days. However, your idea of adding some ascorbic acid sounds like a good one as a precaution. I've heard of people adding ascorbic acid to bread anyway to give the bread a little sourdough like tang. So it might be doubly worthwhile.

    Please let us know if you try it and it helps out.

Earlier Comments

647 thoughts on “Cook’s Illustrated Almost No Knead Bread

  1. Hi Jo-Ann. I’m glad you’re having such a good time with all this. My experience with oiling the pans is that I never have and I’ve never had a problem with sticking. I seem to recall someone saying they did get some sticking but I think it’s rare with the ceramic material and would only be a problem for a short while when you first start using them. After some use, they seem to season and “break in” in their own way.

    But please let me know if you end up having a completely different experience :).

  2. Jo-Ann

    Hi Eric
    I am really getting addicted to the NK bread.. I tell my husband, ‘hurry up and finish this bread so I can make some more’. Guess I’ll have to start baking bread for the neighborhood.
    I also love the wetter batches as they seem to make the more moist and best crumb bread. They are very comparable to the Italian ‘Vienna Breads’ that I had as a child.[long time ago] They make great sandwiches

    Just finished watching the ANKB videos, and once again, they were great.. I am planning on trying them out this week. One WW and one white.. I have 2 oblong oven bakers, one new and have a question.
    Should I oil the pans? I’ve tried this once before and with a high temp, the oil turns black. It doesn’t harm the pan and I just wipe away the excess. Know that you’d have a tip or two.
    again, thanks for your time

  3. Lori O

    Thanks Eric. Making bread requires much patience….I am still learning!! 🙂 I guess that’s why I try to speed it up. That and the fact that I am quickly becoming addicted to this wonderful bread. I get disappointed when I wake up in the morning and realize that I forgot to mix up a batch the night before. 🙂 hehe! Is there a group for me? No Knead Breadaholics Anonymous? I’m pretty sure I would’t be alone!! Thanks for making this so fun!

  4. Hi Lori,

    I imagine a warmer environment would (or at least could) shorten the final rise time. One technique for testing readiness is depress the dough a little with a finger and if the depression comes back a little but not all the way, it’s ready. You want to bake it just before it’s fully risen. Easier said than done. If you bake the same loaf enough, sometimes you just get so you can tell visually when it’s ready.

    Just curious though why speed it up. If you’re just needing to make the proofing schedule fit your schedule or something else?

  5. Hi Mike. That sounds great. You HAVE to email me some pictures so I can post them here. Can you include a shot of your outdoor oven too?

    Edit: Mike did – see just above. The word "WOW" comes immediately to mind.

  6. Lori

    Hi Eric, I have a question regarding the ANK and the final rise. I learned a technique for enhancing the final rise by heating water in the microwave until it boils. Then using the moist, warm environment to allow the dough to rise in. Since this recipe calls for 2 hours for the final rise, does enhancing the environment decrease the final rise time? If so, how can I judge when it’s ready to bake? ALSO, thanks for the quick shipment. I received the dough hook and will gladly anticipate the arrival of the dough scraper next week sometime. Will try to download the pictures I took of my last loaf. YUM!!

  7. Mike McGibbon

    Hey Eric… thank you so much for sharing the almost no-knead bread recipe and videos. I’ve been having great success with using these methods and I absolutely love all the variations I’ve felt confident employing with these methods. It started simply with using different beers, which as you’ve all noted here impart great flavor variations, and evolved to altering quantities of beer, flours and vinegar… to even using my beloved ‘New Glarus Uff-da Bock’ with, so far, my favorite results. I’m baking in my outdoor wood fired oven and have found it takes roughly 45min, at 500 degrees for the breads to reach 200+ degrees. Additionally, I’ve been using some tin foil to cover the loaves during part of the bake to protect the crust, as the wetter dough does take a little longer to reach a bake in my oven compared to a traditional kneaded dough. I’ll try to send a picture of yesterdays bake.
    Thanks again, Eric and all, for your wonderful website!
    PS Looks like those new bread knives are going to be a winner.

    Mikes Almost No Knead - Hearth Baked

    See more of Mike’s photos by clicking here.

  8. Karil Rauss

    Hello Bruce and Malcolm, and hello Eric!

    I have been following your e-dialogue about retarding, and as a beginner, I am still a bit confused about the steps. At the risk of appearing as dense as some of my first loaves of bread, (though none of my breadtopia loafs have failed!), I have included three hypothetical “schedules” below to help clarify what I am trying to clarify and understand.

    When you refer to forming the loaf from the cold dough, it suggests that retardation and fermentation are treated as one step (as indicated in SCHEDULE A), so that you remove the dough that had slowly but thoroughly fermented during the retardation phase in the refridgerator—it doubled or more in volume while in the refridgerator. Then you proceed directly with shaping and proofing.

    When I retard in the fridge, (as in SCHEDULE A), the dough does indeed rise to double, often even before the full 24 hours have passed. I treat this as the fermentation phase (retarded fermentation). I then shape the loaf (cold) and allow it to rise (proof) at room temperature before baking it. Of course, this proofing phase will take longer, because the dough needs to come to room temperature. Is this how you proceed, too?

    Or do you punch down the retarded dough and continue with a room temperature fermentation phase (8-18 hours) followed by shaping and proofing phase (ca. 2 hours), (As in SCHEDULE B)?

    I have also read of schedules (such as the procedure described in SCHEDULE C) in which the dough is fermented at room temperature and then shaped. The shaped loaves are then retarded overnight in the refrigerator so that the proofing phase takes place during retardation in the refrigerator (“retarded proofing”). When the loaves have risen sufficiently, they are removed from the fridge, allowed to return to room temperature (ca. 1 hour), and then they are baked.


    1) MIX THE DOUGH AND KNEAD BRIEFLY (15X) (For the CI ANK Bread).
    2.) RETARD THE DOUGH 24 HOURS IN THE REFRIDGERATOR (“Retarded Fermentation”)
    4.) PROOF THE LOAF AT ROOM TEMP FOR 2 HOURS (or perhaps longer, because it needs to return to room temperature)


    1) MIX THE DOUGH AND KNEAD BRIEFLY (15X) (For the CI ANK Bread).


    1) MIX THE DOUGH AND KNEAD BRIEFLY (15X) (For the CI ANK Bread).
    5.) RETARD THE DOUGH 24 HOURS IN THE REFRIDGERATOR (“Retarded Proofing”)(Or until risen double)


    What do you do when dough is retarding and rises our of sync with your baking schedule? You write that you allow your dough to retard until you are ready to bake, however, if it is unadvisable to allow dough to overrise, do you simply keep knocking it down until you are ready to procede with the proofing stage?

    Thanks for you help and this extraordinary site! Gotta run off to my French class! Greetings from the Provence, blue skies and into the 3rd day of 130 km Mistral (North Wind)!

    By the way, yesterday we enjoyed my first loaf of CI ANK Bread made with Leffe Cloister Beer (Belgian) and Japanese Rice Vinegar. I used bread flour and whole wheat, and It turned out light, chewy, crusty, and delicious. It boasted very big holes (the dough was quite soft, so it spread a bit more than it sprung, but the crumb was perfect!). I plan to try a loaf using apple vinegar and hard, dry cider from Normandy. (It has the same alcohol content as beer).

    Greetings, Karil

  9. Ed P - Bellevue, WA

    Hi Eric,
    A great addition to Breadtopia’s recipe and video library. I’ve made six loaves so far experimenting along the way. Here are my observations and variations:
    1. I found the dough too dry, upped the water slightly to 8 oz.
    2. Wheat Bread – replaced honey or sugar with one tbs. of molasses.
    3. Rye Bread – Use the wheat bread recipe except: Use rye flour instead of wheat, 1 tbs. of malt syrup instead of honey or sugar, 1 tbs. Fennel seeds (smashed in mortar and pestle) & 1 tbs. Caraway seeds mixed in with the dry ingredients. The dough will look uninspiring and rise even less than the wheat but will puff up nicely when baked. We keep our house 67 degrees during the day and 60 at night so I use our furnace room for fermentation and rising. The room is a large closet like space that stays about 75 degrees all the time. So, at cooler temperatures longer times may be wise.
    Thanks for all that you do for us

  10. Hi Eric, My first loaf of A-N-K bread was a complete success. I left it for an initial 12 hours so it would fit my schedule. Its versatility is one of its greatest features. I took a picture and wanted to send it but I don’t know how to get it on this comment page. I’m sure I’ll soon know how! Happy baking, Betty

    Betty Beer Bread


  11. Malcolm Kronby

    Further reply to Bruce (above)

    You’re not pestering me. Glad to help.

    Four hours is the minimum for the rye-flour poolish. You can leave it around overnight.

    You’re right about 75% hydration. My basic proportions are 4:3, flour to water (ignoring yeast and salt).

    1. I like an open crumb with big holes, so, yes, I handle the dough gently, and yes, good shaping is important.
    That’s where a parchment sling helps a lot. BTW, as with any slack dough, slashing is tricky.

    2. The proofing is indeed very forgiving. Puffy is good. I’ve never had a problem with over-proofing.

    3. I have never tested for internal temperature. After 30 minutes at 500 covered, and 10 minutes more uncovered at 450, the bread will be fine. That’s my oven. Yours may produce a different result. Treat the covered baking time as invariable, and give it more or less time uncovered depending how dark and crunchy it looks and feels. if the bread seems underbaked after cooling – you know the crust will soften as the bread cools – preheat the oven to 375 and give it another 5 or 10 minutes.

    Note on the yeasted cornmeal bread: Use finely-ground cornmeal in the dough, but for great flavour and a pretty loaf, sprinkle it with coarsley-ground cornmeal when shaping and proofing. For the next yeasted cornmeal bread, I’ll chop up some sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed) and mix them into the dough.

    Any questions ?


  12. Bruce

    Hi, Malcolm:

    This Monday evening, I mixed my first batch of dough according to your February 29 post. I have not previously experienced a recipe like this one. My four-hour rye poolish barely grew but I didn’t expect much with 100% rye flour.

    This is clearly a 75% hydration dough, including the poolish, isn’t it? I’m going to give the dough a couple days of rest in the refrigerator. I think refrigeration of a slack dough really enhances a full hydration of the flour. And hydration is really what develops gluten.

    The specific hydration across the board will allow me to easily adjust the recipe to create the sized loafs that I am used to making. This is good.

    About the shaping and proofing:

    1. Should I try to handle the dough as little as possible? Or is good pre-shaping and shaping important? You’ll probably say yes to both. Why do I ask? Hah!

    2. I tend to get better bread when I don’t over proof dough. How puffy should it get? Your posts make it sound as the proofing is very forgiving.

    3. I assume I should bake the bread beyond 200 degrees? I usually try to approach 210 degrees with most of my artisan bread. What is your experience with this kind of bread?

    Once I go through the process a couples times, I am sure that I’ll stop pestering you with so many questions.

    Best, Bruce

  13. Bruce

    Malcolm, you’ve been a huge help.

    Have you ever retarded the cornmeal bread?

    Best, Bruce

  14. Lori

    Hi Eric, Made the C.I. version yesterday and loved how much it rose. I did not have beer so I substituted lemon energy drink and today I have dough almost ready to bake that I made with tropical energy drink.I am also using Agave Nectar instead of sugar or honey. First one turned out so well that I had to make another loaf right away. Oh, and I took pics so will forward those to you if they turned out. The parchment paper made the whole process so easy. I did have trouble cutting into the dough prior to baking–don’t have a razor so tried to use a knife. Also, the crust was a little darker than I like. But, hey, it’s almost gone so it must be ok!! Thanks Eric!!

  15. Jessica

    Okay, I have accepted your challenge and baked both types of almost no knead using Guiness Extra Stout (darker than the regular). I also added 1/2 cup of cooked wheat berries to each loaf. Both are fantastic! They are both flavorful, moist inside with plenty of holes, and the crust is chewy/crisp.

    Jessica bread 001

    Jessica bread 003

  16. Malcolm Kronby

    Replies to Bruce’s Questions (see above)

    The longest I’ve kept the dough is ten or eleven days refrigerated. I’ve never reached a point of no return.

    Yes, the recycled poolish is the equivalent of a sourdough bread method. I’ve worked with sourdough starters, but I prefer the flavour of the poolish-based bread. Also, since the poolish is just travelling on from one batch of dough to another, it never becomes excessively sour, never spoils, and needs no maintenance.

    About the yeast-risen cornbread: My wife had asked for a cornbread to go with her delicious chili. I had never seen anything quite like it, but it’s really just a variation of my basic recipe, using a proportion of cornmeal instead of, say, multigrain flour. And you’re right: I figured that to get a good rise it would need a shot of extra protein in the form of vital wheat gluten to compensate for the use of cornmeal. The result surpassed my expectations.


  17. You’re welcome, Betty. Look forward to getting your report.

  18. Sylvia – that’s great. I would ask you to email me a photo (if possible) to post, but I have a feeling it may be a tad late for that anyway!

  19. Good catch, Bob. Misspelling fixed. Thanks.

  20. Hi Eric, I’ve been fooling around with some recipes given to me by bread baking friends. No more! I made a resolution to do just your No-Knead method. Made a great loaf. Happiness! Then I got your video of the Almost. I can’t wait. Tomorrow. I’ll report.

    I can’t tell you how much I enjoy your videos and my thanks to you are endless. Betty

  21. Sylvia

    This was simply dee-lissh! I even got use the coors beer that had been in my cupboard for over a year..I had bought it to kill yard snails! I used all KA all-purpose flour,raw sugar dissolved in the water and instead of placing into my covered pot…I used my big round stainless steel bowl and made for my oven stones. Slid the round loaf on with my super-peel..(so much fun to use)parchment and all…covered with my pre-heated lid and what I got was a hugh round,crispy crust,loaf. It had a wonderful light and more holes than expected texture. Really tasted great with Italian salame,lettuce,onion,black olives,mozzarella,little miracle whip and Italian dressing. Hubby and I scarfed it down. Thank you for your e-mail telling me about this tasty easy bread.

  22. Bob Packer

    I just came on the site to check out the new almost no knead addition.
    Of all the times I have been on the site, I just noticed a typo. In the first paragraph on the home page, you use the word “pallet” and I believe you mean “palate”. Sorry to be nitpicky, but you know how I am!

  23. Karil Rauss

    Hello Barbara
    It seems that you submitted a comment on the post “Cook’s Illustrated Almost No Knead”, but I don’t find it. I quote it below:

    I am spending my weekends baking and learning. An attempt at Cajun Three Pepper bread yeilded a very wet batter. I added an extra cup of flour and am OK with the result, but need to check on the recipe’s call for “uncooked polenta”. My local grocery offers refrigerated tubes of polenta in their health food section. Did I use the right stuff? Would an Iowa girl just look for cornmeal?

    I am a beginner at bread, but I have cooked quite a lot of polenta over the years. What you are referring to in the tube is cooked polenta. Considering that one uses about 1 part polenta meal to 5 or more parts water (by volume), it is no wonder you needed to add additional flour to your recipe. In any case, polenta is a bit like cornmeal, but is is a bit coarser. The polenta that is made in some of the mountainous regions of Switzerland (Bramata meal polenta) is quite coarse—each grain being about 2-3 millimeters thick—about like a very coarse kosher salt. It takes a good hour or more of stovetop cooking in a heavy pot and very frequent stirring with a wooden spoon. The ordinary polenta that one uses in Italy (at least in the Tuscany, where I have visited) is about half as coarse. It requires about 40 minutes of cooking time. I believe that it is this sort that is being referred to for the recipe. (It is somewhat coarser than the cornmeal that one ordinarily uses for batter-bread (quick bread) cornbread.) Like oats and rice, there is instant polenta that only requires a few minutes of cooking time. I would avoid this sort. If you use the finer cornmeal, I imagine that the texture would be somewhat heavier. Also, because a cup of the finer grind would weigh more than a cup of the coarser grind, you would need to adjust your recipe accordingly. Good Luck!

  24. Hi Allen,

    It sounds like you’re referring to rise you get after the bread goes in the oven, or the "oven spring" as it’s sometimes called. Some recipes just don’t produce much oven spring. In my experience, the very wet doughs (like the NYT no knead recipe) are like that. Another possibility is the dough was over proofed before going in the oven, so there’s no umph? left in the dough to give it that last kick. In which case, you could try putting it in the oven sooner.

    Others will likely have different and/or better explanations, but those are a couple things that occur to me.


  25. allen

    Hi: A general question : what are the possible reasons/solutions when no or little rising of dough when baking the loaf? Thanks for help Allen

  26. Ken Trease

    Jessica the orignal CI article stated that they didn’t like the breads made with heavy ales. They preferred the taste of lighter lagers. I have made several batches with Sam Adams lager which I like and I just started a batch with Pryamid Snow Cap, a darker winter beer. Will let you know how I like it tomorrow.

  27. Hi Jessica,

    I’d like to nominate you to give it a try and report back. Would anyone like to second this?

    March 3rd Edit: Jessica (and her bread) rose to the challenge. See her March 3rd post with pics below.

  28. Jessica

    Has anyone tried making this bread with a dark beer, such as Guiness Stout?

  29. Hmmm, apple cider vinegar sounds really good. Good to know about the flat beer thing too.

  30. Bruce

    Hi, Eric:

    As you know, I’ve also been making the beer bread for a couple weeks now.

    I have been using Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar in the dough with what I consider to be great success. I’m not sure if white vinegar is absolutely necessary. Perhaps others can experiment and report on their results.

    I’ve also used flat beer with no detriment so far. I don’t think the fizz in the beer is vital to the bread.

    Best, Bruce

  31. Bruce


    Thanks so much for your very quick reply to my questions. I look forward to trying your method as soon as I am able. I’ll probably mix a batch today and start baking on Monday or Tuesday.

    What is the longest period of time that you have been able to retard the dough? Have you gone past the point of no return? If so, how many days was that for you?

    Do you also make sour dough bread or do you find the method you have described a satisfactory equivalent? The constant turnover of the left over dough into a new batch is, in reality, the oldest form of sourdough culture. You just add some yeast to the final dough.

    I wonder if I started a batch with 150 grams of active sourdough culture (rye flour based), could I perhaps do the whole process as sour dough? I think that is a task for another day, or year. My rule is: always start a new recipe as it is written….

    Thanks also for the yeast-based corn bread. I’ve never seen anything at all like this. I’ll need to buy some vital wheat gluten and then I’ll give it a shot. I can understand the need for the gluten with the percentage of corn meal in the dough.

    Thanks, too, Eric, for letting this information highway flow.

    Best, Bruce

  32. Richard L Walker

    Barley malt extract can also be found in stores that sell beer making supplies. Which brings up the subject of using malt and specialty grains (ground fine or otherwise) in bread making. The combinations would be unlimited and, I’ll bet, mostly wonderful to taste.

  33. Malcolm Kronby

    Hi Eric:

    These are the answers to Bruce’s questions posted above:

    1 & 2. It depends on my needs and schedule. Sometimes I use enough dough for one loaf right away and refrigerate the rest; sometimes I refrigerate the whole batch. Yes, aging enhances the flavour.

    3. I’ve never reserved individual portions, but no reason why not. I mix the dough in a five-litre plastic pail (with cover), ex Hellman’s mayonnaise, and take what I need when I need it.

    4. Does the dough ferment in the refrigerator over the span of the days? YES.

    Or should you ferment the dough after it comes out of the refrigerator before shaping and proofing? At the end of your post you write that the refrigerated dough can be shaped while cold and left to proof. This gives me the impression that most of the fermenting (rising)
    actually occurs in the fridge. SOME OF THE FERMENTING OCCURS IN THE REFRIGERATOR. Or you may be meaning that you generally cut a portion of retarded dough, let the portion come to room temperature and then shape and proof. Do you understand what I am trying to picture? YES.

    5. Any health food store should have jars of barley malt extract. It’s a thick, dark syrup. If you can’t get it, use molasses.


  34. Bruce

    The other good thing about sharing ideas at a site like this is that I’ll find someone who knows more than I do. Someone will tell me how to improve my bagel recipe. Or tell me how to make a no-knead sweet dough, something I haven’t tried yet.

    Back to the pullman pan issue. Such challenges are why I prefer to weigh my ingredients (buy a scale from Eric!). If everything is in weight measure, it is easy to add 25% to each substance in the recipe. I even find it helpful with portions. For me, a raw dough portion of between 100g and 130g makes the right sized bagel for my family. If I have 1000g gram of ripe dough, I know that I should form between eight and ten bagels.

    Right now I’m making bagels from Eric’s beer bread dough, to which I added a tablespoon of maple syrup, figuring that the maple syrup would help them brown up nicely in the oven and give them so more chew. They are looking good so far.

    Best, Bruce

  35. Bruce

    Dear Ruth Ann and Eric:

    I am guessing that Ruth Ann means a pan with a flat cover which slides onto the base, so that you get absolutely square bread.

    Whenever I have an odd shaped pan, I fill it with water, measure the amount of water and then compare it to the water volume of a pan with which I am familiar, like a 9 x 5 bread pan. I do my math so that if the pullman pan has 25% more volume than a 9 x 5 pan, I know to try to increase my dough by about 25% over high much dough I would use for the 9 x 5 pan. Then try it and decide if you should go higher or lower with your dough volume.

    Hope this helps.

    Best, Bruce

  36. Bruce


    Dear Eric and all:

    I did find sourdough plus beer and vinegar to be too much flavor for me.

    But I say: EXPERIMENT!!!

    Recipes are just someone’s record of what they did before.

    I know some of us are on significantly limited budgets. I respect that. But for most, a bag of flour is not as expensive as most other hobbies. Making a loaf at a time allows you to experiment, pushing the limits of what you know.

    I’ve always religiously retarded my sour dough in the fridge for 24 hours and then given the dough an 18 hour fermentation at room temperature. This method makes wonderful sourdough bread, thanks to Rhine’s experiment.

    But yesterday I reduced the ferment to 12 hours and gave the dough a longer proof (about 2 3/4 hours) before baking.

    What I discovered for my bread was that the loaf was still wonderful and much less sour. Friends who don’t like sourdough would love this naturally fermented bread.

    So go ahead a try sour plus beer plus vinegar, or skip the vinegar, or use potato water from boiled potatoes. Add some honey, or maple syrup, soak some seeds and add to the mix.

    I took a fully fermented sour dough and cut it into 10 pieces, formed balls, let them rest for 30 minutes, stuck my thumb through each hole and expanded the hole to make 10 bagels. Let them rest for 20 minutes or so, stretched them again so the hole wouldn’t completely close up, boiled them in water with a little sugar (1/4 cup of sugar for a big pot of water; you could try honey or maple syrup, much less, the same or more) then baked until brown at 400º. I boil them for about a minute a side. You could experiment with 10 seconds to 2 minutes! Best bagels I’ve ever made. I’ve tried this with the addition of baking soda to the boiling water and didn’t like the effect. Some swear by the baking soda.

    I say experiment. Even the failures are generally edible.

    Some experiments are failures. Hot water kills yeast and sourdough culture. But you won’t make that mistake again….

    One time I put boiled bagels directly on parchment paper and found out that the paper became glued to the bagels. So now I rest the boiled bagels on a metal rack for a minute or two just to let them dry a bit. Dry them too much and you can’t get poppy or sesame seeds to stick. You experiment and find what works for you.

    I really appreciate people like Malcolm and Rhine who challenge rules that my little brain keeps thinking are unbreakable….

    Best, Bruce

  37. I’m only vaguely familiar with a pullman pan. How does its dimensions differ from the oblong la cloche?

  38. Could you give a recipe to fill a pullman pan? Thanks!

  39. Hi Malcolm,

    Thanks for the great contribution. Very interesting and helpful information.

  40. Allen, Beth & Ronnie –

    One of the first things I tried was adding 1/4 cup of sourdough starter to the recipe. I found I liked the Cook’s Illustrated recipe better as is. Somebody else in here (was it you, Bruce?) did the same thing and came to the same conclusion. Of course you could try it and see what you think.

    One thing I haven’t done is just leave out the beer and vinegar, substitute an approximately equal amount of water and use starter in place of the yeast. It would be a very different recipe, but maybe you’d end up with some of the other desirable characteristics of this bread.

  41. Doris

    Thanks Eric!

    looks great!

    Best regards from Vienna!

  42. rlabohn

    eric…what do you think about adding 1/4 cup of starter to the mix in addition to the basic recipe from cooks illustrated??

  43. Bruce

    Hi Malcolm:

    Thank you for your most interesting post. I had not seen your previous posts.

    I find your concept of using the remainder of the dough as the poolish (or “old dough”) for the next batch quite ingenious…. I don’t like waste!

    I have a couple questions.

    1. Early in your post you indicate that the dough is kept refrigerated. Am I correct in understanding that you generally refrigerate the dough immediately after thoroughly mixing it? I assume that this aging greatly enhances the dough’s flavor.

    2. It sounds as though one could ferment and proof and bake a loaf immediately after mixing, reserving the rest of the dough in the refrigerator. Have you ever tried this?

    3. Do you ever precut the loaf portions immediately after mixing and then individually retard the portions in separate containers? Or do you generally just retard the entire dough and then cut out the portion that you want?

    4. Does the dough ferment in the refrigerator over the span of the days? Or should you ferment the dough after it comes out of the refrigerator before shaping and proofing? At the end of your post you write that the refrigerated dough can be shaped while cold and left to proof. This gives me the impression that most of the fermenting (rising) actually occurs in the fridge. Or you may be meaning that you generally cut a portion of retarded dough, let the portion come to room temperature and then shape and proof. Do you understand what I am trying to picture?

    5. Where do you get your barley malt extract?

    Thanks for your input.

    Best, Bruce

  44. Bruce

    Great job, Eric!

    Clear, concise, helpful, useful and fun. We all owe you a debt of gratitude for your work.

    Best, Bruce

  45. Cathy Parrigan

    I am so anxious to try the almost no knead bread I just watched! Did you use hot or room temp water? I’ll let you know how it turns out – Thanks

    Eric’s Edit: Room temperature water is fine. Good luck (but hopefully you won’t need it).

  46. Karil Rauss

    CI “Almost No Knead” bread: I subscribed to Cooks Illustrated for years and highly recommend it. It is great to see a CI recipe converted to video for breadtopia.com. My question is whether it is possible to place pan loafs under a clôche. (I have not found a resource for La Clôche in France, so I have converted a large round terra cotta pot Fortunately, the hole in the bottom is not pierced all the way through. I have used this with great success in tandem with my pizza stone. Not having a handle makes it a bit cumbersome, but I manage.) This make-shift clôche is sufficiently large that I could place a loaf pan on a pizza stone under it, too. Would there be any advantage to using the clôche with loaf breads? I always use the pizza stone to insure a more even oven temperature. Thank you!

  47. Beth in UT

    Eric, I wondered if you could do this recipe WITHOUT the beer. Maybe substitute it with water or milk. I’d like to vote for the sourdough version!! Thanks

  48. Richard L Walker

    Nice looking recipe. A couple of questions.
    -/ Seems like additional malt flavor could be added by using a full cup of beer (all the liquid) rather than 1/4 cup. I’ll have no problem drinking the additional beer but it seems like additional flavor could be added just by using all beer and no water.
    -/ I do like the suggestion about a sourdough version if you’d like to put that recipe together.
    In the meantime, I’ll give this recipe a try. I just started using one of my large plastic bowls as a proofing bowl and an iron Dutch oven for baking. I really like the results.

  49. Malcolm Kronby

    Hi Eric:

    Thanks for posting these recipes and videos.

    I’m making my best and most consistent bread with a slightly different method, which also uses a parchment paper sling as recommended in the CI article. You’re right: there is no need to use a skillet for the paper.

    I make enough dough for three loaves. The dough is kept refigerated, and baked a loaf at a time or as needed. It will keep for at least a week, and the flavour improves.

    Make a poolish with 100 grams of rye flour (my preference, but any flour will do), 75 grams of water and 1/4 tsp of instant yeast. This will be ready after about four hours at room temperature, and can be refigerated until needed.


    The poolish, plus

    900 grams of flour: for example 600 g of white, 200 g of multigrain and 100 g of rye, or whatever you like.

    675 grams of water, plus
    1 TBS malt or balsamic vinegar, and
    1 TBS barley malt extract (You may remember these extra ingredients from an earlier recipe I submitted.)

    1 tsp of instant yeast

    1 TBS of sea salt

    Mix the ingredients thoroughly and vigorously; this is a lot like brief kneading. Cut off 500-550 grams of the dough, let it rise, shape it, proof it on the parchment paper, and bake it covered at 500 for 30 minutes, then uncovered at 450 for 10 minutes.

    After you make three loaves, you should have about 150 grams of dough left over. This is your poolish for the next batch. It gets better and better.

    Refrigerated dough can be shaped while cold, and left to rise at room temperature. It will take at least two hours, but you can leave it for six hours or maybe more.

    The crust will be thin and crackling. The crumb will have large open holes (my preference).

    Also, I made a delicious yeast-risen cornbread for the first time today, something like a Portuguese “broa” but (honestly) better.

    For one loaf:

    240 g white flour
    100 g cornmeal
    2 tsp vital wheat gluten
    260 g water
    1/2 tsp instant yeast
    1 tsp salt

    Mixed, left to rise at room temperature, shaped (as a boule), proofed, baked on parchment paper all as above.


  50. allen

    Hi: Wow- simply thanks. Can you give the recipe for a sour dough using this base method. Thanks

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