Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Whole-Wheat Bread

This no-knead whole-wheat bread from Jim Lahey is quick to make but as good as old-fashioned bread. And with the added benefit of whole wheat and being done in less than two hours.

Cast-iron pot with a loaf of Jim Lahey's no-knead whole-wheat bread on a gray background

Jim Lahey’s no-knead whole-wheat bread is a brilliant innovation that brings you healthfulness with ease. And that’s to say nothing of the nutty, not overly healthful taste. More of that, please.–Renee Schettler Rossi

Jim Lahey's No-Knead Whole-Wheat Bread

  • Quick Glance
  • (18)
  • 30 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Makes one 10-inch round loaf
4.8/5 - 18 reviews
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Ingredients


Directions

In a medium bowl, stir together the flours, salt, and yeast. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough, about 30 seconds.

Cover the bowl and let it sit at room temperature until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough has more than doubled in size, 12 to 18 hours.

Generously dust a work surface with flour. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough onto the surface in 1 piece. Using lightly floured hands or a bowl scraper or spatula, lift the edges of the dough in toward the center. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round.

Place a clean towel on your work surface and generously dust it with wheat bran, cornmeal, or flour. Gently place the dough on the towel, seam side down. If the dough feels tacky or sticky, dust the top lightly with wheat bran, cornmeal, or flour.

Fold the ends of the tea towel loosely over the dough to cover it and place it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost double in size. When you gently poke the dough with your finger, it should hold the impression. If it springs back, let it rise for another 15 minutes.

About half an hour before you think the second rise is complete, preheat the oven to 475°F (245°C). Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and place a 4 1/2-to-5 1/2-quart heavy Dutch oven or pot with a lid in the center of the rack.

Using pot holders, carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven and uncover it. Unfold the tea towel and quickly but gently invert the dough into the pot, seam side up. (Use caution—the pot will be very hot.) Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the lid and continue baking until the loaf is a deep chestnut color but not burnt, 15 to 30 minutes more. The bread is done when it registers 200°F to 210°F (93°C to 99°C) on an instant-read thermometer.

Use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to carefully lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly.

Slice and…sigh. Originally published October 5, 2009.

Print RecipeBuy the My Bread cookbook

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    Variations

    • Seeded Whole-Wheat Bread
    • You can make this sturdy whole-grain loaf even more substantial–and satisfying–when you consider pretending you’re German and tossing in a handful of walnuts or maybe some pumpkin and sunflower sesame seeds when mixing the dough. Consider it bread that sprecheksn the Deutch.

    • Slightly More (Or Less) Hearty Whole-Wheat Bread
    • You can easily adapt this whole-wheat bread recipe to turn out loaves that are a little less hearty by tweaking the proportion of all-purpose to whole-wheat flours. The recipe currently offers a 3:1 ratio, but feel free to nudge it slightly up or down, making it closer to 4:1 or even 2:1 (all-purpose : whole-wheat) depending on how pale or dense a loaf you like.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    This no-knead whole-wheat bread is so simple to make it has become my go-to bread recipe. (I rarely buy bread.) It has a chewy crust and a well-developed flavor.

    When making bread with all whole-wheat flour and/or if adding bran, I’ve found adding about a tablespoon of any kind of sugar or syrup really helps jump-start the yeast; otherwise it must sit for considerably longer than 12 hours to finish the first rise.

    My favorite thing about this recipe is that it lends itself very well to experimentation, I’m still trying to figure out what combination and proportion I like best!

    This no-knead whole-wheat recipe makes it easy to turn out crusty loaves of chewy whole-wheat bread that will have you turning up your nose at supermarket bread in no time.

    It also invites experimentation, begging to be tweaked with more or less whole-wheat flour and the addition of nuts and seeds (flax? sunflower? pumpkin?). Loaves of bread don’t last long in our house, so there are very few days now when we don’t have a bowl of dough rising on the counter.

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    Comments

    1. I’d love to try this bread. Can I use my banneton for the second rise, instead of using a tea towel?? Not sure how “wet” the dough is.

    2. This is a great recipe to play around with adding your own little tweaks such as seeds, walnuts and stilton, garlic and rosemary or cheese and onion. I have even left out the yeast, reduced the flour and water content by 50g each and replaced with 100g of soughdough starter. It comes out great every time. If you are new to bread making this is a very forgiving recipe to give you confidence to broaden your knowledge. Happy bread making.

    3. I made this for the first time yesterday and it was great. I am currently baking two more loaves as I type this. I am curious about one thing, would it make any difference in the second proofing if I used the proof setting on my oven?

      1. My proof setting on my oven is too hot, so be careful, unless you’ve used it in the past and know it won’t kill or semi cook it, proceed with caution. I had repair out on mine, if they knock the temp down, but it would lower all the settings. I.e.450 would be 425 etc. so rather than ruining a batch of dough I just turn the oven lite on before to heat it up a bit. But even that gets too hot, so shut it off in a half hour..Hope this helps…

        1. 5 stars
          Hello – having faffed around with sour dough starters this recipe is fantastic. I now only use this recipe having binned the horrible jars of sour dough starter!
          The bread is fantastic, turns out well every time.
          Last week just as the dough was due to go in the oven, we had a power failure. I put the dough in the fridge and some 7 hours later when we were reconnected I put a very sorry looking wrinkley deflated dough into the oven and it still came out well and tasted great.
          I’m a very happy baker!!

          1. I’m so happy to hear this, Elizabeth! Thanks for taking the time to let us know.

      2. That’s a fine-looking loaf of bread Mary Ann! I think you could try the proof setting on your oven. It’s probably quite a bit warmer than proofing on the counter, so the second rise may happen faster and you’d need to watch for that so you don’t over-proof it. If you try it, do let us know how it goes.

      1. Ritu, you want something that has a lid, and is at least 4 1/2-quarts in size. So, a medium-sized Dutch oven works well, or even a pot with a lid. A regular loaf pan will be too small for this loaf.

        1. If you don’t have a dutch oven with lid, you can put a tray of boiling water on the bottom of your oven, then when you put in your loaf, spray the oven with water. This will create steam and simulate the dutch oven. I’ve cooked this with both methods and they both work similarly. Good luck!

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