No-Knead Italian Bread

No-knead Italian bread that’s rustic, crusty, and easy as heck. Believe it.

An uncooked braided loaf of no-knead Italian bread topped with sesame seeds on a black floured surface with a bowl of oil, brush, bowl of sesame seeds, and an eggshell lying beside it.

This no-knead Italian bread is every bit as simple to make as the name suggests. Seriously. With only 10 minutes of effort, you can make a loaf of bread that easily rivals one you’d buy at your favorite artisan bakery with a chewy crust and a light crumb. The only catch? You have to remember to start it the night before.–Angie Zoobkoff

Why This No-Knead Italian Bread Recipe Works

The reason this recipe works despite being no-knead is that the bread isn’t kneaded but does have a long rising time of 12 to 18 hours to create a risen texture. The inspiration for this recipe was an article published in the New York Times several years ago that featured a revolutionary no-knead bread by Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery. In addition to making bread, you can use this recipe to make dough for pizza and focaccia.

No-Knead Italian Bread

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 10 M
  • 1 H, 40 M
  • Makes a 1 1/2- pound (680-gram) loaf
4.5/5 - 2 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the A Seat at the Table cookbook

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Special Equipment: A 3-quart (2.8-liter) clay-covered, ceramic, or cast iron pot, or Dutch oven with lid (or a larger pot of the same kind)

Ingredients


Directions

In a large bowl, stir together semolina flour, 00 flour, all-purpose flour, salt, and yeast. Add the lukewarm water and stir until the ingredients form into a slightly dry, shaggy dough, about 1 minute. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap to keep in the moisture and let the dough rise at room temperature (between 65º and 75ºF or 18° to 24°C) for at least 12 hours and up to 18 hours. After this time, the surface of the dough should be covered with small bubbles and the dough should have risen significantly.

If you’re making a round or rectangular loaf, gently run a spoon around the bowl to deflate the dough. Use the spoon to gently fold the dough over itself. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes. If you’re making a braided loaf, flour a board or surface with 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and turn the dough out onto it. Deflate the dough by pressing and kneading the flour into the dough until the dough no longer feels quite as sticky. Roll the dough into a long loaf. Cut the loaf into 3 equal pieces and, using your hands, roll each piece evenly into a rope about 12 inches long. Place the ropes on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Braid the bread starting in the middle of the ropes. Take the left rope and cross it over the middle piece. Take the right rope and cross it over the rope that is now in the middle. Repeat crossing left over center, followed by right over center until you reach the end, as if you’re braiding hair. Pinch the bottom ends together and tuck them under the loaf. Repeat for the other side. Cover and let rise until doubled in size.

If you’re making a round or rectangular loaf, spread about 1/4 cup semolina flour onto a cotton dish towel. Take the dough out of the bowl and use your hands to shape the dough into a rectangle or ball, depending on the shape of your pot or Dutch oven. The dough will be sticky and shaggy. Fold the dough into thirds and place the dough seam-side down on the dishtowel. Sprinkle some more semolina on the bread. Bring the sides of the towel over the bread to cover loosely. Let the dough rise until double its original size, about 2 hours.

If you’re making a braided loaf, move on to step 4.

While the dough is rising, place an oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 450ºF (230°C).

About 30 minutes before the dough is finished rising, place a heavy clay-covered, ceramic, or cast iron pot or Dutch oven with a minimum size of 3 quarts into the oven and heat the pot while the dough finishes rising.

If desired, after the dough has risen, lightly brush it with melted butter or lightly beaten egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Remove the pot from the oven, gently lift the dough from the towel and place into the pot seam side up. Cover the pot and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until the bread is brown on the outside, about 10 minutes longer. Remove the loaf from the pot and cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Print RecipeBuy the A Seat at the Table cookbook

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    *NOTE

    • To simplify the recipe, you can substitute King Arthur brand bread flour in place of the semolina, 00, or all-purpose flour. You may need to adjust the rise time for the dough to double in size, so watch carefully.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    I was certain that a loaf of bread this easy to put together wouldn't turn out okay. Maybe it wouldn't rise or it would burn or it would be dense or surely something would go wrong. Bread making is supposed to be hard work! But as I pulled it out of the oven, I was truly amazed—and felt like some sort of artisan-bread-making rock star. It looked perfect. Exactly like what you buy in the bakery. And tasted every bit as good. Crispy crust with a light delicate crumb. With only 10 minutes of effort, I may never knead bread again. Mixing the ingredients together initially took 30 seconds, and resulted in a thick, shaggy mixture. I let rest for 16 hours, after which there were little bubbles over the dough as described. The dough was very easy to work with during the remaining steps. I used a 3-quart ceramic-coated Dutch oven to bake the bread. This was probably the minimum size you could use as my loaf had just touched the lid as I pulled it off after 30 minutes baking. An additional 10 minutes of baking was perfect to yield a lightly browned loaf.

    My very first thought when I took this no-knead Italian bread out of the oven was, “Wow, I made this bread from scratch!” Sounds silly. But the exact same thought reverberated through my mind when I tasted it a few minutes later. How incredibly awesome is it to have a recipe for a no-knead bread that tastes like you just brought it home from an Italian market. No joke—this no-knead bread has the crust of a ciabatta and the inside of a sliced white bread you would actually enjoy with olive oil at the start of an Italian meal at your favorite trattoria. I have to admit, it seemed very hard in texture when I took it out the pan from the oven to let it rest, but when I cut into it after it rested, it was perfectly crusty on the outside and tender on the inside. The best part?! I already had all of its ingredients in-house...and the fact that this tasty bread only has 5 total ingredients makes me happy as well. So on to the recipe itself. I formed my loaf into a round, similar to a Tuscan boule. In place of the 00 flour, I used King Arthur Cake Flour, organic/unbleached A/P flour, and Bob's Red Mill Semolina flour. In lieu of instant yeast, I used active dry yeast. (Note that instant yeast is different than active dry yeast. Use the same proportion as instant but it needs to be dissolved in the lukewarm water and allow it to sit before adding it to the flour mixture directly.) In Step 2, I actually ran a large rubber spatula around the bowl to deflate the dough, and used the same spatula to fold the dough over itself. The pan I used for the bread was my trusty enameled-cast iron Dutch oven, size was 6-quart. I really recommend using the semolina flour if you can find it—in the dough initially and as the extra flour used to sprinkle on the bread. It really gives an incredible coating or crunch on the bread itself. Believe me, I’ll be making this no-knead Italian bread again and again…I might even try adding seeds next time to the coating. Perhaps a blend of flax, poppy, and sunflower. Oh the possibilities! Buon appetito.

    #leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

    Comments

      1. William, the long rise time compensates for the small amount of yeast. I’m sorry to hear your dough didn’t rise significantly. Was your yeast fresh (ie. purchased recently)?

    1. David, I’m about to try this recipe. What would be the best way to bake it NOT in the round? Regular loaf shape.
      Thanks,Bill

    2. I gave this recipe a try. I didn’t have any 00 flour so I used King Arthur’s High Gluten Flour instead. Otherwise, I followed the recipe carefully. I made it pretty late the night before, so it initially sat out for 12 hours. Many of the comments say they let the dough sit out for 16 hours. The finished product was very tasty, but the loaf weighed a lot and the bread was very dense. I’m wondering what I could do differently to make the bread come out a little lighter. Or is it supposed to be that way?

      1. Margaret, it’s difficult to know as there are so many factors that affect bread baking. In my experience, for this particular bread, the initial rise is critical and I often find that 12 hours isn’t long enough. The temperature in your kitchen can drastically alter how long this takes. I have made this with stunning results that rival an artisan bakery, and have also tried to rush it along a little, and ended up with a dense, heavy loaf. If you’re trying it again, I’d give it more time on the initial rise to make sure it’s very airy.

    3. A few thoughts. The first time I made this I made the mistake of using it to make rolls. Tasty but the crust was way way crusty–a challenge for the use I had in mind. This time I braided it. I just took it out of the oven and can’t wait to taste it. I did it in a clay loaf pan with lid. But I would suggest that if you are going to braid it and then try to turn it upside down into whatever vessel you are using, that you sprinkle semolina on the parchment. I could not get it off the parchment to turn upside down into the clay so I put it in, right side up on the parchment. It worked out fine, but if there is a reason to turn it upside down then the semolina would allow that to happen. Will be playing with this a lot. Can’t wait to taste it again. Also, I used a thermometer, rather than time, to determine doneness. I uncovered it at 20 minutes rather than 30, then took it out 10 minutes later. It was 195-199 on instant read thermometer which is within the range of fully baked. Thanks for the recipe. As I say, I expect to have fun with it.

      1. Wow, Jennifer. Love that you are having so much fun playing with this recipe. And thanks for the tip on the semolina!

    4. Started this last night at 7:30, finished it this morning. Was just cool enough by lunchtime for my adult son to enjoy a PBJ with two slices cut from the center. He loved the moist and light texture compared to other semolina breads I’ve baked. Used 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill semolina flour and 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill artisan bread flour and baked in 6-quart Dutch oven. Came out a bit flatter than I’d hoped. Next time will do the final 2-hour rise in a parchment sling in a 5-quart mixing bowl and transfer that to a smaller (4-quart) Dutch oven for baking. Will also cut slashes across the top.

      No-Knead Italian Bread

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