Martha Mondays: No Knead Bread

Posted by Brette in Food | Martha Mondays

This week’s Martha Mondays was chosen by yours truly. I picked Pane Integrale, the no knead bread in April Living. I’ve never made no knead bread, but I’ve read a lot about it. My mom got the Jim Lahey cookbook that is about this for Christmas and I’ve looked through it. I’ve always been deterred by a few things. First of all, the bread always looks so dark, almost burnt, that it never appealed to me. Secondly, the timing is hard to manage. The bread has to rise about 14-20 hours total which means you can’t quite start it at dinner time one day, you’ve got to start it late at night if you want it to be ready for dinner the next day.

The recipe in April Living was pretty simple. You mix the ingredients together (nothing unusual here) and you put it in a bowl and let it sit out for 12-18 hours. It’s supposed to double. Mine did not double but it got bigger. Then you knead it once, let it sit in a towel for a couple more hours, then dump it in a preheated Dutch oven and put it in your preheated oven.

I admit I fudged the timing a bit and mine sat for longer than it was supposed to at the different stages, but that was the only way I could get it done (I had a hellacious week last week – a kidney stone AND a burst ovarian cyst in one week – more than anyone can handle really, so it is simply a miracle I made this at all).

I admit it was pretty easy to make. I took it out of the oven before it got as brown as the photos in the magazine.

It was hard to slice because the crust was really hard. I thought it looked nice, but honestly I wasn’t wowed by this. It tasted like bread. That’s it. Nothing exciting. Now maybe if I borrowed my mom’s cookbook and explored some of the interesting variations there I would be more excited, but this was not worth the effort as far as I was concerned. I’m glad I got to try it because I’ve always wanted to make this, so Martha gets points for including it.

If you made it, how did it turn out for you?

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16 Responses

  • I’ve made this before, and you’re right – the basic recipe is just basic bread, nothing special. I have tried some of the variations and they’re good. While it would be nice to have time to make different recipes, I think it’s more of a convenience food – and healthier than store-bought, at least.

  • I’m so sorry about the kidney stone and burst ovary! I can’t believe you could even stand up. You poor thing 🙁

    I thought I had an overwhelming week and weekend so didn’t get a chance to even attempt this. I am going to this later week and post. My camera broke & I’ve been shopping for a replacement so my blog’s been at a stand still until I get a new one 🙁

  • Brette,

    I’ll let you know later today how mine came out. You’re right with the timing, I had to time it just right so I wouldn’t be baking this at 3:00 a.m., lol. It’s just rising now, so I’ll be posting about it later today. Yours looks beautiful by the way, somehow I don’t think mine is going to look that good…..

  • OK, first of all: a kidney stone AND a burst cyst in the same week? That’s crazy. I can’t believe you’re walking, never mind baking bread.

    And as for the bread: I haven’t made the recipe in MSL, but I own the Lahey book and I’m really glad. I suspect you have to like that kind of bread, with a super-crunchy crust that’s almost burned. I do! The book does have more than just the Dutch oven bread, so maybe you’d be happy with one of those options. Meanwhile it’s still Passover, so all this talk of bread is killing me. Must. Go. Now.

  • Yes, good point. It is a convenience food I guess.

  • Ugh sorry about the camera. We got a new one a while ago and I still have not adjusted to it. Of course I’ve never taken the time to food around with it.

  • I’ll have to look through the book again. You’ll be able to eat bread again soon!

  • Teresa B. says:

    Hope you’re feeling better. I was going to make this bread, but I was too busy trying to put together Easter dinner. I didn’t have the kitchen space (or a clean bowl) to spare for a 12-plus hour rise. Plus, I don’t own a Dutch oven, although I did some investigating on the Web and found that a covered casserole dish may work, too, if it can withstand the high heat.

  • Yes, I think a glass casserole dish would work too.

  • So sorry you have not been well. I don’t think I’d have the patience to wait on this bread, but let me tell you what I especially like about what you share here: everything we try isn’t perfect and you are not afraid to admit that. I don’t enjoy blogs where the writers aren’t honest about the experience. Sometimes, things don’t work out as planned. I guess that’s why I adapted so well to Julia Child’s way of cooking. She made it look as if you threw in a bit of this and a bit of that and sometimes, oh miracle, a fancy feast would happen. But, not always.

  • Thanks! What I have found is that a lot of these recipes/projects don’t do it for me, but I do stumble upon ones that are stupendous and that is what keeps me going. I don’t know too much about Julia, although my mom has her books and has made her recipes.

  • The fact that you are standing upright, considering the medial drama and birthdays and … oh, you know … life in general … is a miracle.

    Personally, I think I’d take 10 minutes of kneading over some kind of lengthy no-knead bread odyssey.

  • Or a bread machine that makes an ugly looking loaf but can be timed precisely.

  • Oh Brette, I hope that you are starting to feel better, you poor thing. And to have cooked the bread still means that you are a true star!

    I made mine, but didn’t do the Dutch oven bit. We liked the bread, but I don’t know if I would make it again.


  • How did you bake it then? Loaf pan?

  • Alene says:

    Oh!! You poor baby. Both things in one week?? That’s simply not fair. (nor are kidney stones, period) Hope you are all better now.

    The crust of the bread looked good. My husband is in love with hard, chewy crusts. So I might try it.