A Trio of No-Knead Breads + Compound Butter

Ever watch a movie where a homely under-confident girl or guy goes from zero to hero?  Think Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, or Peter Parker, the nerdy guy who morphs into Spider Man and fights evil villains like Doctor Octopus or Venom.

This is the tale of an underdog, a homely mass of dough made from humble ingredients, neglected for hours at a time.  When you see the gooey, sticky, bubbling blob in your bowl, you’ll start to doubt the magic.

You’ll wonder if you should be kneading, fussing over, or finessing the dough until it turns into a smooth elastic ball.  You might begin to think that the evil villain has taken residence in your bowl.  Don’t worry, this is a zero to hero story, remember?

A quick stir creates a shaggy dough.  Resist the urge to fuss.  Cover it up, and go do something else.  Sleep.  Wake up.  Eat breakfast, paint a picture, watch a movie.  Sprinkle in some flour, and fold the dough around in the bowl a little bit.  Don’t over-exert yourself though.  We wouldn’t want anyone to catch us kneading our no-knead bread.

Now, amuse yourself for two hours.  You could make some compound butter (a fancy name for jazzed up butter).  More on that later…

After almost a day of waiting, and very minimal effort on your part, your homely glob of dough will be ready to make it’s grand transformation from “blah” to “yeah!”.

Enter the dutch oven (ie:  cast iron pot);  the magic chamber that makes the impossible possible.  Jim Lahey, the most well-known mastermind behind the no-knead dutch oven method, calls the dutch oven “an oven within an oven.”  The hot cast iron imitates the evenly heated bricks of a domed brick oven, and the tight-fitting lid traps in the steam, which keeps the inside of the bread moist and gives the outside a solid, crackly crust.

After lid-on and lid-off cooking in the dutch oven, your hero will emerge.  Like many super-heroes, your bread will be attractive and solid on the outside (so solid, that it will sound a hollow “knock” when tapped), and tender and complex on the inside.

You may want to partake immediately.  I don’t blame you…but you must wait.  An hour, in order to achieve the best texture.

Be sure to make an extra boule or two…You may not be a zero, but baking this bread will surely make you a hero.  Even the most evil of villains melt into giggling little school-children at the smell of orange cardamom bread.

Basic No-Knead Bread + Variations

Adapted from  Jim Lahey, via Mark Bittman of the NY Times

3 cups bread flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast

1 1/3 cups water

cornmeal or additional flour for dusting


In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, yeast.  Add the water and mix with a wooden spoon or your hand until you have a very sticky, shaggy dough.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a dish towel.


Let the dough rest and rise for 12-18 hours, until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough doubles in size.

Fold and wait:

See “Notes” for an easier, less-sticky way to form your bread into a ball

When the first rise is complete, generously dust a cutting board with flour.  Use a rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl to the cutting board (it will be sticky).  Using lightly floured hands or a rubber spatula, gently fold the edges in toward the center, shaping the dough into a ball.

Generously coat a cotton towel (non-linty) with cornmeal.  Put the dough seam-side down on the towel and sprinkle with more cornmeal.  Fold the towel over the dough.  Allow the dough to rest for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.   30 minutes before the last rise is complete, place the dutch oven (cast iron pot) in the oven and pre-heat to 450˚ F.


Remove the pot from the oven.  Slide your hand under the towel, and turn the dough over into the pot.  (This will be messy, but no worries…it will round out as it bakes).

Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes.

Uncover and continue baking for about 15 minutes, or until the loaf is browned.


Remove the bread to a wire rack and allow to cool for an hour before eating.


Variations + Compound Butter

For all variations, combine the extra ingredients with the flour, and yeast, changing the amount of salt if directed, then proceed as you would for the basic no-knead bread recipe.

Orange, Honey and Cardamom No-Knead Bread

Add the following ingredients to the flour and yeast in the basic no-knead bread recipe, then proceed as directed.  Note that the amount of salt is reduced.

2 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

1/2 teaspoon salt (instead of 1 1/2 in the basic recipe)

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

2 tablespoons honey

Sweet Orange-Cardamom Butter

Don’t let the name fool you–compound butter is much more simple than it sounds,  and it compliments the subtle sweetness of Orange, Honey and Cardamom No-Knead Bread.

1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup), softened (at room temperature)

2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed orange juice

2 teaspoons peeled and finely grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

2 teaspoons dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon real maple syrup

In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients using a fork until smooth and well-combined.  Serve immediately, or if desired, spoon the butter from the bowl onto plastic wrap and roll into a log.  Refrigerate for 2 hours or up to one week.  Serve with Orange, Honey and Cardamom No-Knead Bread.

Parmesan, Cracked Pepper and Thyme No-Knead Bread

Add the following ingredients to the flour and yeast in the basic no-knead bread recipe, then proceed as directed.

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, picked from the stem

1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

3/4 cup finely grated parmigiano reggiano, romano, or parrano cheese

1 teaspoon salt

Rosemary Lemon No-Knead Bread

adapted from Williams-Sonoma’s version of Lahey’s no-knead bread

Add the following ingredients to the flour and yeast in the basic no-knead bread recipe, then proceed as directed.

  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest


•Less-sticky method:  Instead of removing the dough to a cutting board after the first rise, lightly sprinkle some flour over top of the dough in the bowl.  Using your hands or a rubber dough scraper or spatula, fold the edges of the dough in toward the center, forming a ball.  Cover with a towel and allow to rise for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.  When it comes time to bake the bread, generously sprinkle cornmeal in the bottom of the preheated dutch oven, and gently scrape and slide the dough into the pot.  Bake as directed.


Filed under Breads, Jams, Jellies and Spreads

14 responses to “A Trio of No-Knead Breads + Compound Butter

  1. afracooking

    Beautiful pictures and an amazing looking loaf – I can just smell it baking!

  2. I was delighted to discover while cooking in my mother’s kitchen-without-a-dutch-oven that I could make the lemon rosemary bread in a basic lidded casserole dish, with mostly successful texture.

  3. Hi Jenn, Loving your website. You could have taught the Food and Light workshop–your photography is that good! I LOVE cardamom and I can’t wait to try the orange cardamom version of this bread. I agree with James above about the Cooks Illustrated version of this bread. But as I always say, ANY homemade bread is good right out of the oven.

    • Thanks “Romaine”–your comments are so nice. I’m flattered! I left the workshop feeling like I still have so much to work on (in a good way!), as I’m sure you did too. I was in awe of our instructors’ knowledge! As for the bread, I’m eager to try out the Cooks Illustrated method as well.

  4. Ann

    What a beautiful site you have. I’m so excited to try this recipe I’m going out today to buy a dutch oven, but I’m curious if it matters if the pot is enameled?

    • Thank you! Oh, and you’ll won’t regret buying a dutch oven for even a minute–I use mine all the time! You can make the bread with either kind of dutch oven, so the choice is yours. Happy baking!

  5. Loove your site and your photography is amazing. Good thing you can’t gain weight just by looking! The Meyer Lemon Marmalade gives me goosebumps! I just gave you a Beautiful Blogger award on my blog!! Check it out.

  6. liking the bread recipe. Nice photos and great content. Any recommendations for baking over 3,000 meters elevation? temperature/ingredients

  7. Gorgeous photos! I just found you on TasteSpotting and look forward to trying this. Keep up the great work!

  8. The loaves looks delicious (and so easy?!) and the compound butters sound like a wonderful addition (but then again anything with cardamom can’t be wrong in my book…)

  9. James H. Longstreet

    Re: No Knead Bread.

    Have you tried the refinements made by Cook’s Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen? They have largely solved the problems posed by the very wet dough. Their dough is slightly less hydrated, and they compensate for this by kneading the risen dough 10-15 times, for less than a minute. The risen and kneaded dough is then allowed to rise a second time on a sheet of parchment, which ultimately serves as a sling to lower the dough into the hot pot. I consistently get better results with this approach than I did with Bittman’s. They also add 3 oz. beer and 1 TBSP white vinegar to the dough for better flavor. Just wanted you to be aware of this version.


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