If you’re a first-time bread-baker, this recipe is for you. This Overnight No-Knead Bread is a basic loaf that doesn’t require kneading nor does it include a sourdough starter. The yeast-base dough is simply stirred together and rests overnight on your counter top to slowly ferment, rise and develop flavors. Baked the next day in a sizzling skillet, the bread grows into a crusty bakery-style loaf with a flavorful airy crumb. Trust me, it will not disappoint!
Now I know making bread at home can be intimidating. So, if you are a new to the process, I have put together below a list of the ingredients and recommended equipment you need to make this Overnight No-Knead Bread.
Why using a combination of all-purpose flour and whole-wheat flour? What is instant yeast? Which baking vessel should I use? What is a Banneton…? Read through my explanations and helpful tips, and get ready to make this practically fool-proof bread.
- Unbleached All-purpose flour (450g) & Whole wheat flour (50g)
Unbleached all-purpose flour is best for making cakes and soft breads such as pain de mie or brioche. This type of flour has a low amount of protein, usually around 10%, which isn’t enough to create a crusty bakery-style bread loaf, with an airy crumb.
To do so, we need to add some whole-wheat flour, which contains more protein, about 14% of protein. Adding some whole-wheat flour boosts the amount of gluten and hence makes for a more substantial bread, both in taste and texture. For this recipe, we only need to use 10% of whole-wheat flour. This is enough to give extra support and rise, without compromising the soft texture of the crumb. Adding too much whole-wheat flour (hence, too much gluten) would result in a dense chewy crumb (like bagels).
- Instant Yeast
Instant yeast is dry yeast that has been milled to very fine granules. It helps in leavening breads and creates an airy crumb. In comparison to active dry yeast (milled to bigger granules), instant yeast doesn’t’ need to be dissolved in water before using. It can be mixed right into your dry ingredients, which is very easy.
Once open, I like to store my instant yeast in a Tupperware in the freezer. It protects the yeast from oxygen and humidity and makes it last longer.
- Fine-grain sea salt
In bread baking, salt helps the gluten from the flour hold more water and carbon dioxide, creating an airy crumb. You need to use a fine grain salt as it will disperse quickly and evenly into the dry ingredients. A coarse/flaked salt won’t disperse evenly.
- Lukewarm water
Adding lukewarm water to your flour, yeast and salt is the last “ingredient” you need to make bread. It is important to add lukewarm water as it will re-activate the yeast. It is important that you get the temperature right since cold water won’t get that yeast going, and hot water will kill it. Lukewarm water is around 105-115F (40-46C) ; a temperature you would be comfortable washing your hands in.
- A Cast Iron skillet Combo Cooker. This equipment is a small investment and a great addition to one’s kitchen! A Cast Iron skillet Combo Cooker is a deep skillet and a Dutch-oven all in one, with a lid that can convert into a second skillet. It is ideal for making bread as it retains high heat and distributes it evenly. For this recipe, the loaf bakes 25 minutes with the lid on – to allow a good rise and the formation of the crust; and then 15-20 minutes with no lid – to create a crisp golden crust. If you do not have a Cast Iron skillet Combo Cooker, you can use a regular Dutch-oven. It may not make for a crust as crunchy, but the result will be similar.
- A metallic dough Scraper/Cutter and/or a silicon bowl scraper. A dough scraper makes it easy to manipulate bread doughs, especially when they are sticky like in this bread recipe. Use a scraper to scrape out the sticky dough from the bowl and to flip it upside down easily on your working surface, without it sticking to your hands.
- Bread/Scoring Lame. You need a very sharp blade (ideally set on a handle) to score deep, clean slices on top of the bread. This is very important as it allows the bread to expand in the oven and not break or crack. This also gives the loaf a beautiful bakery-style look.
- A round Banneton. A Banneton is a proofing basket where you will place your bread dough for its second rise (after it is shaped, before it is baked). This basket provides the loaf with a nice round shape and is ideal for making round loafs. I use a 9-inch round banneton for this bread recipe.
More Cooking notes/tips:
- Grams vs. cups. If you a regular baker, you know that when it comes to baking you have to be very precise. So I do want to mention I make this recipe relying on grams and using a scale (like with all my baking). There could be a large margin of error when using “cup measurements”, and this will likely affect the success of this recipe. This is true for most baked goods, but especially this one. For convenience, I have included here conversions in cups, but I highly recommend you use a scale. If you don’t have one, I think this is a small investment to make that could take your baking to the next level.
- The optimal room temperature for proofing your dough overnight is 80-90F. I usually like to place my bowl inside the oven (off). This is a dry, draft-free space that is often slightly warmer than the rest of the house. My house is usually set at 70 degrees, and rises perfectly fine in the oven (with the oven set to OFF)
- Steps 2 & 3 (in the morning) – including folding the dough like an envelope, flipping it upside down and rolling it around to make the fold seams underneath “disappear” and close the loaf may seem like the two most intimidating steps. This folding technique is inspired by Chad Roberston from his book Tartine Bread. Many no-knead bread recipes do not include these steps. However, I think the folding step really helps in building structure and shaping a perfectly round loaf. It also helps create layers and contributes to a more aerated crumb (“holes” in the bread). These 2 steps are optional, but highly recommended in my opinion.
- There is no need to grease your cast iron or Dutch oven. The pre-heating will prevent the dough from sticking to it.
Remember, making bread from scratch requires more time and commitment than baking a regular cake. This bread dough is likely much looser and stickier than you are used to, and your first loaf may not turn out beautifully. Do not stress it, this is very normal. After two or three attempts, you will master the shaping and dough handling process better, and your loaves will come out looking better and better.
I hope you enjoy this Overnight No-Knead Bread as much as I do!
Any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.
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3 ½ cups + 1 tbsp (450g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp (50g) whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp instant yeast (yes, only ¼ tsp)
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 ½ cup + 1 ½ tbsp. (375ml) lukewarm water
Make sure you read the cooking notes before you start.
The night before:
Step 1 - In a mixing bowl, combine the two flours, salt and yeast, and stir to combine.
Step 2 - Warm the water in a small sauce pan over medium heat. When just warm (not hot yet), pour the water into the flour mixture and stir well to combine.
Note: Use a wooden spoon or even French rolling pin to combine. Do not knead – just mix until no dry flour is visible. The mixture will be very sticky and will not form into a ball, this is normal.
Step 3 - Cover the bowl tightly with a plastic film and poke 5 tiny holes in the top with a toothpick, to allow the gases to escape.
Leave on the counter, and allow to rise overnight at room temperature.
In the morning:
The dough should have tripled in size, and have a spongy appearance with big air bubbles.
Step 1 – Remove the plastic film from the bowl, turn the bowl upside down and scrape dough onto an unfloured work surface. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour and dust the work surface around it as well with flour.
Flip the dough so that the "floured side" is now on your work surface and the unfloured side is facing upwards.
Step 2 – Starting from the right side of the dough, lightly stretch the dough out (to the right) and fold it a little over halfway over the dough. Do the same with the left side. Do the same with the top.
Grab the bottom (still unfolded side), stretch it and pull it over the 3 folded sides of the dough. Flip the dough upside down so the seamless rounded side is now on top.
Step 3 – With both hands circling around the base of the dough ball, roll only the bottom part of the dough around your work surface, allowing the tension to "close" the bottom of the dough ball. The folds at the bottom should mostly disappear – it is fine if it isn’t completely closed.
Step 4 – Flip the dough into a mixing bowl/banneton lined with a clean dish cloth and cover with another cloth (the almost closed up side should be facing upwards)
Step 5 – Place your cast iron combo cooker (or Dutch Oven) into your oven and preheat the oven to 500F (260C) degrees.
Once the oven is pre-heated - working quickly and safely, remove the cast iron combo from the oven and place on your stove top. Quickly flip your dough into the center of the cast iron and score a square into the top of the dough with a blade/very sharp knife.
Step 6 – Cover and place the cast iron into the oven and turn down the temperature to 450F (232C) degrees for 25min. After 25min, remove the lid and bake for another 15-20min at 450F (232C) degrees. When a dark golden color appears, remove bread from the oven and cast iron and place on a cooling rack.
Allow the bread to cool for at least one hour before slicing.
Did you make this recipe?
I’d love to know how it turned out! Please let me know by leaving a comment below, rate the recipe and/or share a photo on Instagram: tag @pardonyourfrench and hashtag it #pardonyourfrench. Bon Appetit!