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. Will

    Madelyn, I just now took the top off the Romertopf and my NYT No-Knead is going to need a bit longer bake. 15 mins and we’ll see. I baked at 425 and probably could have used a hotter oven.

    So far I’ve preheat the Romertopf to 500 then turned down the oven when loading the bread. So far I’ve always used parchment paper in the Romertopf and not in the cast iron. In the cast iron I use nothing. No sticking ever anywhere. That may change.

  2. Madelyn

    I meant “now I always use parchment”

  3. Madelyn

    Hey Wil

    The first time I ever used my Romertopf I think I used the No-Knead recipe and put the dough in the cold Romertopf, popped it in the oven and let it heat up with the oven. I had read several times that people said this worked.

    That bread stuck like crazy to the Romertopf. Still tasted great, but the sticking was not acceptable. Not I always use parchment and don’t dare put dough directly in the Romertopf.

    I also always heat my clay bakers up first, then put the dough with the parchment into a very hot baker.

    Do you put your dough directly into the hot Romertoph sans anything like parchment? Just curious. The sticking was such a bad experience I don’t dare not use parchment ever again!

    When I used to use my Dutch Oven I sometimes used cooking spray but I don’t want to put cooking spray on either the La Cloche or the Romertopf.

  4. Will

    Charles, my enameled cast iron pot creates a bottom crust with which one could drive nails if one was so inclined. I don’t mean this in a bad way. I happen to like the thicker toaster crust. It can be tough to cut when fresh. The finer things in life are sometimes harder to achieve.

    The Romertopf Clay Baker moderates the heat from our electric elements and the bottom crust is much thinner but not in a bad way. Tonight I’m baking a NYT style high moisture bread in the Romertopf to see how it does.

    I have both baking vessels and may get more. You can’t have too many kitchen tools.

  5. Will, please explain the “big difference in the bottom crust” using the Romertopf Vs cast iron. I am in the market to buy one, but can’t decide which to buy, a cast iron Dutch, a Cloche, or the Romertopf . Anyone with comments, please share



  6. Will

    Baked the Whole Wheat version last night and it was a big hit. Moist and a touch of sweetness. Thinner crust that usual but still pleasant. Tried out my new Romertopf Clay Baker and it makes a big difference in the bottom crust as compared to cast iron. Will be doing some sourdough tonight.

    Thanks Eric.

    Wil's Almost No Knead Bread

    Wil's Almost No Knead Bread

  7. Jeffrey

    Hi, Madelyn

    Sorry this answer is so long, but I ran out of time.

    Based on my own experience and from everything I’ve read about maintaining sourdough starters, there seem to be two general guidelines for working with sourdough starters: the starter as a whole should be refreshed or “fed” at least once a week, and the starter for any particular dough should be refreshed the day before (and preferably 8-12 hours before) mixing up the dough, to assure a very active culture full of yeast cells. Feeding the culture on a weekly basis usually means at least doubling the amount on hand by adding enough flour and water to make the same amount of culture, by tossing half the starter and adding enough flour and water to make up what you had to begin with. Refreshing the starter for a baking session often involves tripling or quadrupling the amount of starter.

    If you’re baking fairly often (every day or so), and you just replace what you took out, then the cumulative effect of doing this amounts to both the weekly feed of the culture and refreshing it for individual baking sessions.

    If you’re not baking that often (like me), then simply replacing what you took out won’t be an adequate feed, if you want to maintain a vibrant culture. But I bake often enough that I don’t want to refresh the entire starter, so I just refresh enough of it for the next day’s baking session, and then refresh the entire starter at less frequent intervals (see below).

    Also, I like the flavor of sourdough, but I don’t like strong sourdough taste. In addition, I’m of the opinion that maintaining a culture by just adding some flour and water to it every so often can result in the build-up of a very strong sour taste to the starter. Some people like this, but I don’t. Some recipes recommend stirring accumulated hooch back into the starter, but when I used to use more liquid starters, I always poured it off.

    To achieve what I want, I use very firm starters, and like to keep it very fresh. I keep a very small amount of starter in the ‘fridge: 6 oz. or so. When I refresh it for baking, I use .6 oz starter, 1.6 flour and .9 oz. water (see Maggie Glezer’s “Artisan Baking”) and when it comes time for refreshing the entire starter, I use 1.9 oz. starter, 5.2 oz flour and 2.9 oz. water to make 10 oz. refreshed starter, then replace the entire 6 oz. starter I keep on hand with a very active and fresh starter. That leaves me about 4 oz. refreshed starter to use in baking.

  8. Madelyn

    Jeff, I’m not sure I understand your statement “Most people keep quite a bit more starter in storage, and if the entire starter is refreshed every time you make bread, there will be a considerable amount of waste. ” I don’t understand the “considerable amount of waste”. I keep my starter in a jar and feed it from time to time. I’m planning on baking tomorrow so I took it out, fed it, and will let it sit out on the counter overnight. When I bake, I’ll pull the amount I want out, then feed it with some excess flour after I form the loaves… perhaps let it sit out a while and enjoy its meal and then eventually put it back to bed in the fridge. I transfer it to a clean container regularly. Its been quite happy for three months. What’s being wasted?

  9. Jeffrey

    A note on using sour-dough starters:

    All of the SD recipes I’ve read use at least a preparatory process which involves at least one refreshing stage at least 8 to 12 hours before mixing the whole dough. The idea is to have a very active culture full of yeast cells when the bread is made.

    The NK or ANK recipes call for a relatively small amount of starter. Most people keep quite a bit more starter in storage, and if the entire starter is refreshed every time you make bread, there will be a considerable amount of waste. One solution is to refresh a small amount of the starter in a separate container and use that to make the bread, and only refresh the entire starter at less frequent intervals.

    For example, one kneaded bread recipe I use calls for refreshing the starter using about .6 oz. starter with .9 oz. water and 1.6 oz. flour and letting it ferment 8 hours, then using this small amount of refreshed starter to make the dough.

    If the main starter has not been fed for a long time (more than a week), it’s a good idea to refresh the entire starter before making the smaller amount of starter, in effect, refreshing the starter twice prior to making bread with it. Starter which has been sitting for a really long time might require being refreshed several times.

  10. Madelyn

    I use the recipe above. I make a rye version. Click the link to ‘Virginia’s rye version’. That’s basically what I do too though lately I’ve been using Hodgeson’s rye and reduced the rye amount to 4 oz. Sometimes I don’t add vinegar – its a matter of taste. I bake in a parchment lined Romertopf. I had a to experiment a lot with proofing times with my house’s much cooler room temperatures. If you use starter, it helps to feed it and leave it out at least over night or even longer. Have fun. Don’t be afraid to experiment and keep trying. Its hard to produce something inedible. Took a little experimentation to produce a handsome loaf.

  11. Eva

    Hi Madelyn.
    Your loaf looks delicious. Would you mind posting the whole recipe and process please.
    Thanks, Eva

  12. Madelyn

    This is now my favorite recipe. I baked a loaf yesterday and this AM before going to work. I bake bread regularly for a friend. I still use the Hodgeson’s rye, but I cheat… I find I have to use my Kitchen Aid and dough hook to mix up the dough. Seems to just need a little more muscle. I’ll have to try the buttermilk variation as I have some buttermilk.


  13. Jeffrey

    The few times I’ve used bread-bowls, it’s my recollection that the bread is more dense than the ANK – fewer big holes which would allow the liquid the bowl contains to permeate the bread. So, I’d say that increasing the amount of flour in the recipe would be called for. If you divide the amount of liquid by the amount of flour, L/F = hydration, for the white flour recipe I get hydration of (7oz. water + 3 oz. lager + .5oz vinegar)/15oz flour = about 70% hydration. (I haven’t weighed the vinegar, so I’m estimating it’s value – for more accuracy, you’d need to actually weigh it). You might want to add a bit more flower in order to lower the hydration to somewhere between 60% to 66%. You can figure the amount of flour to add by using the formula: L / % = F, e.g., 10.5/.60 = 17.5oz; 10.5/.66 = 16oz.

  14. Richard R. Witt

    I haven’t done much baking of late. Unfortunately my great ANK bread wreaked havoc with my waist-line. I feel that I had reached the pinnacle with my white & rye breads.

    However, I would like to make some bread-bowls for use with thick soups and I really don’t know just how to go about it. I’ve had bread-bowls in restaurants that I thought didn’t come close to the crust texture of the breads I had been baking.

    I’m wondering if anyone has made bread-bowls or if anyone has some tips..

    My first thought was to prepare a standard amount of the ANK dough, cut it into thirds, round them and and try baking them in the normal manner. Then after cooling, cut the top of the crust off and scoop out the bread to make the bowl.

    I was also wondering if it might be a good idea to cover the dough with an egg-wash.

    If anyone has any thoughts on this, I’d appreciate hearing them.


  15. Jeffrey

    Also, weather damage to the kernals before they are harvested can affect gluten levels, so it’s possible to get a batch that doesn’t respond as well as another. There are a lot of technical numbers which depend in part on the amount of damage to the grain which mills provide to commercial bakeries so that they can make adjustments for consistency’s sake, but which are fairly useless to the home baker.

  16. Jeffrey

    Rye has very little gluten in it to begin with. The Hodgson Mill available here in Kansas is whole rye, so it has a lot of bran in it. I’ve never used Bob’s Red Mill, but just looking at it in the store, it looks like it might be more of a light rye, with part of the bran removed. In my mind, Hodgson Mill is something I’d want to use for Pumpernickel, which is supposed to be heavier. For lighter Rye’s I’d look for something lighter, which Bob’s seems to be. I’d suggest adding some gluten powder the next time (sparingly, though – too much, and the bread tastes like cardboard somewhat), or maybe use 3-1 w/r flour.

  17. Madelyn

    I’ve been using the almost no-knead recipe with my sour-dough starter. I make a white rye, using 1 c rye to 2 c white flour. I use about 1/4 c of starter and reduce the fluids by 2 oz. I seemed to be doing fine with Bob’s Red Mill rye and made many successful batches. My last rye purchase was Hodgeson Mill. When I mix up the dough, it seems to need some help (more warmth) to get the dough started otherwise it just sits there like an ugly stubborn lump. It seems to be a courser grind. Has anyone had different experiences with different brands of rye? I THINK my starter is healthy and I THINK my technique is still the same… feel like I’ve lost ‘the touch’. This flour seems tougher to get rising. Expiration date is 3/2011 so its not outdated.

  18. Jeffrey

    Re: Lining pan
    Unless there’s some aesthetic or particular baking issue (e.g., fruitcakes, very moist with fruit pieces that will stick to the sides of the pan and burn), I only line the bottom of a bread pan, and run a thin knife around the vertical surfaces to free up the loaf, as bottom-sticking is the only problem I’ve had real trouble with for most breads.

  19. Diane W

    Re: bread sticking to bread pan. I line my pans with cooking parchment. It doesn’t need to be oiled. Incidentally, in U.K. it’s possible to buy packets of pre-formed liners for bread and cake pans, similar to the type of things we use to line muffins and cup cake pans. I brought some home after a trip there but, unfortunately, they have different size pans than in North America. Surely some manufacturer can come up with something for the North American market.

  20. Jeffrey

    This may be obvious, but I’ll say it anyway, for the notice bakers out there: top burnt? cover the loaf with aluminum foil for the last 5 – 10 minutes or so.

  21. Diane W

    Hurrah! I’ve taken my first ever ANK loaf (sandwich loaf baked in a pan) out of the oven and couldn’t resist a slice before it cooled.
    It is delicious! However, the top was a little burned. This may be because I have a European oven, which is smaller than a North American one.
    I made the wholewheat version as my family only eat wholewheat bread and am surprised how
    light and airy it is for a wholewheat loaf although I did add 2 tbls. of gluten which always helps when baking with wholewheat flour.
    I am a convert!

  22. Diane W

    Thanks Marianne. I had found the clay bakers at Golda’s Kitchen, not too far from where I live, but I’m not yet ready to invest that much money in one. I had been thinking of your idea of using an upturned plant pot on my baking stone and I’m pleased to hear it works O.K. My husband is now devising a ‘handle’ to fill the hole in the plant pot!

  23. Marianne

    Hi Diane,

    I’m also Canadian and I have been able to find the Romertopf clay bakers in some of the more upscale kitchen stores. Should you ever decide to buy a clay baker, you can always order one from Eric because he does ship to Canada. Amazon.ca sells the Schlemmertopf clay bakers or they can also be purchased from Golda’s Kitchen:
    I think Eric’s prices are better.
    I make all of my no knead bread as free-form loaves on a baking stone and covered with a clay flower pot. Works great!

  24. Diane W

    Thanks for this Jeffrey. I am not about to indulge in a clay baker just yet Apart from the fact it I have been unable to locate one here in Canada and places in U.S. don’t seem to ship to Canada,
    I want to try the ANK and/or NK and see how they work for me before purchasing something I may seldom use. I don’t mind kneading, I find it very therapeutic, plus I usually make bread when the mood strikes or when it is convenient. Having to wait 18 hrs. for the dough to proof is not always convenient as I don’t always know what I will be doing, or where I’ll be, 18hrs. hence. However, I’m very interested in trying ANK/NK method and at the moment have my first ANK doing it’s second rise. I am making the sandwich loaf in a bread pan so don’t have to worry about the dough spreading this time. I’ll keep experimenting. With all the glowing comments I’ve read, I’m sure I’ll find it worthwhile in the end. Whichever way one makes it, homemade bread is always superior to store bought. I have been baking bread for 50 yrs. and both the recipe and the loaf pans I use came with me from England to Canada 45 yrs. ago and are still going strong.

  25. Jeffrey

    Hi, Diane W
    I usually cook using a baking stone (I also line the rack above with quarry tiles I got from home depot to reflect heat back down, but that’s not a necessity). I think that the only possible drawback to using a stone is that is doesn’t have side-support for the loaf, so that bread tends to spread out more, rather than rise up supported by the sides of the baking dish. The real significance to this fact is that water content becomes a lot more important. Wetter doughs tend to spreads out, drier doughs tend to be tight and don’t rise as much, so there is an optimal state of moisture content – which depends from day to day on humidity in the air, how old flour is, how it’s stored, etc., all of which means that bakers of free-standing loaves have to develop a nuanced feel for the dough. There’s no guarantee that using exactly the same carefully weighed measurements will produce the same shape loaf for free-standing loaves, because the absorption rate for the flour can vary so much. So, if you want more consistent results using the NK or ANK method, it would seem to me that investing in a baking pot of some sort would be useful.

  26. Diane W

    I am originally from England and, like Andy, have always ‘frothed’ the yeast in the lukewarm water
    before adding to the dry ingredients when working with kneaded dough. This gives the yeast a head start and, one would think, be beneficial for a no-knead dough. Any comments?
    Also, as I do not have any sort of heavy pot to to bake bread in, would it have the same effect to just bake it on a pizza stone?

  27. Archer Yates

    This bread is too wet for all bread flour!
    The hydration % are close for whole wheat and would perhaps would improve with a bit of rye. I have made this several times and the whole wheat is good with a good malty ale instead of a light lager. The malt from a good medium ale improves the flavor. I would suggest about 8 oz of bread flour and 2 oz of rye and 5 of whole wheat. Better yet use 1/4 cup of starter instead of yeast and give it an extra 8 hours to develop flavor. You need to start to use hydration % in place of volume or weight

  28. Regina Gale

    I am new at this adventures bread making. I made the almost no knead version with organic honey beer and organic apple cider vinegar. It tasted fantastic!


  29. Bruce D

    Hi Eva,
    Thanks heaps for your reply. In anticipation of your reply I impatiently went ahead & had a go at multi-grain bread.
    I envy you of your “Bob’s Red Mill 10 Grain flour”, haven’t found anything like that here (Australia) so went out & bought various whole grains & flours from supermarket & health food shop.
    Tried to adapt my previous “go to” grain bread & Eric’s Seeded Sour NK. Only wanted to make one sizable loaf, otherwise my ingredients & procedure was almost a carbon copy of yours, except for oven times (I realize the different loaf sizes will have some bearing on this).
    It seems after 30 min., when I go to take the lid off, the loaf is done. This happened when I baked in the camp oven with coals, but that was probably more good fortune/fluke (which I really hope I can replicate). However now trialling loaves again in my conventional LPG oven the results are the same.
    Just to clarify: I pre-heat the oven/pizza stone/camp oven to 500F, lower dough in, reduce heat to 450F.
    The dough mixture was to wet (I think that was the reason I didn’t get much oven rise), Comments, crits welcome. Pics. included.
    Still… Reasonably happy with result,will monitor liquid more closely next time,till dough feels right.

    Best to all.


  30. Bruce – sure looks like your diligence paid off. Nice job!

  31. Eva

    Hi Bruce.
    I do not soak the 10 Grains. I use “Bob’s Red Mill 10 Grain flour” straight out of the bag.
    I did revise my recipe just a little bit. I don’t have a problem for the bread to reach an internal temp. of 210 F. However, the end of the temp. probe comes out sticky no matter how long I bake the bread. Maybe one of these days I will get it right.

    1 1/2 cups Rye flour
    1 1/2 cups 10 Grain flour ( Bob’s Red Mill)
    3 cups unbleached Breadflour ( King Arthur)
    1 teaspoon Instant yeast
    3 teaspoons salt ( a little less)
    12 oz. Beer at room temperature ( I use “Pete’s Wicked Ale”)
    8 oz to 12 oz of warm water – depending on flour – King Arthur’s is very, very “thirsty” flour.
    2 Tablespoons Vinegar.

    I let the dough rise for about 14 – 16 hours over night. Knead it some more and let it rise once more in a parchment paper sling for two hours. Score the loaf with a sharp knife and dust with flour.
    Preheat the oven and the iron pot to 500 F for at least 30 Min.
    Transfer the scored dough ( in the sling) into the hot pot ,cover the pot and bake at 450 F for 30 minutes.
    Uncover and bake another 25 minutes.
    Take out of the pot, cover the top only with alum foil and bake another 10 minutes . This will make it easier to cut the crust. Turn the oven off and wrap bread in a clean dish towel and return to oven until bread is cold.
    I store the bread double wrapped in (two) zip-lock bags.

    Your bread looks delicious! Happy baking, happy eating and happy camping!

  32. Bruce D

    Hi Eric & Breadtopia Clan,
    Thought it would be great to be able to have fresh baked bread on an upcoming extended camping holiday in remote areas, (i.e. without shops).

    First tried a conventional loaf in a 9 by 5 bread tin in my 9 quart camp oven, (for all initial trials I just put camp oven into LPG gas oven) the top of the loaf burned, hitting the lid…. Occurred too, that vigorous kneading would be detrimental to flimsy camp table.

    Time to start internet search! Found No-Knead recipe & thought all problems were solved. Results were good, but felt inept with the very wet dough.
    Then on You-Tube I found you (Eric) then Breadtopia & finally my answer, CI ANK! I felt more functional with the dough, & still able to gain a little kneading fix.

    Did a few more trials with the smaller camp oven (41/2 quart) in the conventional oven, simply by using it as a Dutch oven.

    Ultimately I used Beatrix’s W/W recipe for the real test, using hot coals from the fire as the heat source. Decided to put the smaller oven inside the large one, also put an oven thermometer in the little oven during the ½ hour pre-heat . Surprisingly the temp was only 370 F when I lowered the dough in (& unfortunately had to take thermometer out as there was no room for it). Anyway I went with it & checked in 15 mins. the loaf had risen & browning so left (inner) lid on, checked again in 15 mins. the loaf looked done! Inserted a meat thermometer read over 190. All done in 30 minutes! Can only assume the temp must have kept rising.

    Very nice result, thank you Beatrix for the variation, thanks also to Kirsty, June & Amy for your variations.

    Speaking of variations…. Eva have you had any more success with your “Rye & 10 Grains”? Do you soak the grains? I see you don’t use vital wheat gluten?

    Thank you Eric & your friendly & helpful site,

    Happy, Healthful & Prosperous New Year to all.


  33. Andy

    Hello Cindi, This makes one loaf in a 7.5 x 4.5 x 3.5 inch loaf tin. I often vary the recipie to suit my whim of the moment. Anything from 2:1 to 1:2 Wholemeal to white flour works fine. I sometimes use instant yeast and occasionally make a sourdough version. The only thing that I am fussy about is hydration. Water is always 65 to 70% of the weight of flour.

    Season’s greetings.


  34. Cindi

    Sounds good to me. How many loaves does this make?
    Cindi (Houston, TX)

  35. Andy

    Hi from England. Just to say, I use an adapted version of this method for my everyday bread needs. I find it produces great bread with the least effort, quicker and less messy than the no knead method, all in all, the perfect home baked bread for the idle man! As I make lots of sandwiches and toast, I require user friendly bread which holds together, not too crumbly, which is a convenient shape for sandwiches and will fit in my toaster with no hassle or wasted space, so I make mostly sandwich loaves. The recepie is:

    300g stoneground wholemeal bread flour,
    200g white bread flour,
    4 t (teaspoons) cannola oil
    0.5 t dried yeast, proofed.
    4t brown sugar
    1.5t salt
    350ml warm water

    Put water, 1 t sugar and yeast in a container and leave 10 mins or so, until starting to froth.
    Mix all other ingredients in a bowl.
    Stir in the water/ yeast mixture and mix well.
    Cover and leave in a cool place for 8 to 24 hours.
    Tip onto floured surface and knead a few times until the dough feels even.
    Shape and place in greased bread tin, leave to rise.
    When risen, put in cold oven, turn to around 350 to 400 degrees, bake until internal temp is 210 F or 95 C, about 45 to 50 mins.

    Note there’s no beer or anything fancy. This is a no nonesense method for making good bread with absolutely minimum effort. This bread can also be baked in a Dutch oven or just on a baking sheet, with good results every time. I start with a cold oven because it’s less hassle, preheat if you like!

    Thanks, Eric, for a great site,


  36. James Smart

    I forgot to mention in my last post, if you guys in the ‘States’ really want to get a ‘kick’! out of adding ‘BOTTLED CONDITIONED BEER’ to your dough then look no further than ‘SIERRA NEVADA PALE ALE’ produced by the brewery of the same name. What you don’t use you can drink, but after you have made your BREAD! and I suggest that you sit down, as it is rather more-ish, how do I know, well, it is imported in to the UK. Talk about ‘COALS TO NEWCASTLE’ or ‘FRIDGES TO THE ESKIMOS'( if you don’t know the former expression) I can guarantee you will not use ‘just any old beer’ after you have tried this one in particular
    Eric; keep up the good work !

  37. Bernice

    Thank you! I made the sandwich loaf and I love it. Much improved flavor and not much additional work. Thank you so much for clear directions.

    Happy New Year too!


  38. James Smart

    Talk about deja vous ! this Cooks illustrated version is mighty like one of my exiperiments ( see previous posts, back up the way) that I tried ( and continue you use) based on ANKB some time ago. still there Aint much new under the sun. and I would think that the majority of readers on Eric’s website like me are experimenters, and continue to search for the ‘HOLY GRAIL’ KEEP BAKING & A MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL
    James SMART

  39. Lisa D

    ps- is also just wonderful using apple cider for the beer/vinegar liquid volume. Very happy people in my house the last 2 days.

  40. Karen

    I just made this bread using buttermilk instead of the beer and vinegar and it was really delicious. I had to up the yeast to 1/2 tsp because the first time I tried it, it didn’t rise enough. What a great recipe! It lends itself to all kinds of variations and experimentation.

  41. Lisa D

    Just made this bread with KAF AP and used red wine vinegar, omitted the beer, and subbed out my starter to make the difference in liquid volume.
    Wow- I am currently stuffed on delectable crumb, crust and goat cheese.
    Nice recipe Eric!

  42. Bob Johnson

    I buy a quart of Miller High Life and keep it in the fridge for making bread. It is used directly from the fridge at whatever temperature it is and I’ve had great results. It will go flat before I use it up but that does not affect the results either so I don’t believe the carbonation has anything to do with the final product. After making the CI version for a couple years I have started doubling the recipe also with great results. I use my Dutch oven but have used my Anchor Hocking baking dishes with a cover in a pinch with fine results. Believe you will have best results with the oven or La Cloche and Breadtopia has the best prices I seen for the Cloche, in fact, it is on my Christmas list as I write this. Finally, I’ve just purchased the large dough wisk and it is a terrific product. Much easier getting the dough combined and much less mess in the process. Forgive the rhyme. Hope this helps you, we have not purchased commercial bread since I started making it according to CI.
    Bonsall, CA

  43. Shane

    Another question, I don’t have a Dutch oven or a La Cloche Clay Baker. I will definitely be buying a La Cloche Clay Baker in the future, but for now can I get good results without any of these? Does anyone have any suggestions on achieving the best results without any of these accoutrements? Thank you!

  44. Shane

    In this recipe, it says the water should be at room temperature, but it doesn’t say if the lager should also be at room temperature. I assume it would be?

  45. KitcheKnead

    As a point of information the Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book (first printing circa 1984) has in it a very nice recipe for a yeasted cornmeal bread. This tidbit in response to Bruce’s post of March 1, 2008 in which he states he had not previously heard of such a bread recipe.

  46. Annette

    Hi Breadtopia and June! Thanks for the feedback. The other thing we noticed is the way of using pineapple juice instead of water. That method does not ask you to toss the starter, does it? (Have to re-read…no coffee, yet! LOL!). But, I thank you for your remarks. We are going to be baking bread through the Holiday season. Don’t have to Christmas shop for gifts, just spices and additives! LOL!

  47. June

    My thoughts exactly- when I know I will be baking more than one loaf I let the starter build up to the amount that I will be needing. I loathe waste but I have given away all the starter I can- people have started to avoid me- LOL!

  48. You don’t. Making massive amounts of bread to feed the hungry hordes should easily allow for whatever amounts of starter you generate. Sounds nice!

  49. Annette Jimison

    I am curious, as to why I have to throw out perfectly good starter in the feeding process. If I start out small enough, (I don’t have to start with a cup of flour and one of water), could I not just feed it, adding to the starter and not throwing any out, at all? I know that I will have massive amounts of starter, but, I am planning on making massive amounts of bread. My sisters and I will be baking all day long. I guess we plan on using up all the starter during our bread baking marathon. We have a large family, and they love our bread. We like being frugal and can’t stand the thought of throwing something good out. Can anyone help us understand why we have to throw out the starter as we feed it? If it is thrown out due to the subsequent feedings creating a large volume, that is okay with us to have. We will use it up quickly. Help!

  50. Renate

    I find regular clay flower pots are great for baking. Use any size saucer as bottom, cover with a fitting Pyrex bowl or a suitable size and shape clay flower pot. With the saucer you will not get a burned bottom. ( the made in Italy clay pots)

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