Does seeing the word “bread” in a recipe title send you running away from your stand mixer and into the door of the nearest bakery? Take a deep breath: Almost No-Knead Bread is here to quell your bread-baking fears. It almost completely eliminates kneading, the pesky but all-important arm workout that produces bread’s gluten—that is, the proteins that give a loaf its structure.
Follow these simple steps to make bakery-quality bread with an open crumb and a thick crust with very little effort. You’ll be a bread-baking machine in no time.
STEP #1 Mix and rest: Make the dough by folding the wet ingredients into the dry with a rubber spatula until the dough comes together and looks shaggy. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 18 hours. Letting the dough sit for such a long time actually develops the gluten, much like kneading—this is the trick to making this bread. Don’t shortchange this resting time or the bread won’t have enough structure and will turn out very flat.
STEP #2 Knead it 10 to 15 times by hand: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball, 10 to 15 times. These few turns done by hand on the counter make a big difference to the texture of the final loaf, and it’s very easy to do.
STEP #3 Shape the loaf: After kneading the loaf, shape the dough into a ball by pulling the edges into the middle.
STEP #4 Let it rise in a skillet: Transfer the dough, seam side down, to a parchment-lined 10-inch skillet. We found that the skillet is the perfect shape to support the round loaf while it rises. Make sure to grease the parchment so the dough won’t stick.
STEP #5 Bake in a Dutch oven: Transfer the bread to a Dutch oven to bake. The hot pot traps steam and will give the loaf a thick, hearty crust while helping it keep its round shape.
STEP #6 Bake covered and uncovered: Bake the bread covered for 30 minutes then remove the lid and continue to bake until the center of the loaf registers 210 degrees on an instant-read thermometer and the crust is deep golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. By baking the bread both covered and uncovered, you can get a chewy interior and a thick, hearty crust.