No-Knead Grandmother Bread


No-knead bread! In five minutes a day! I’ve been hearing about this technique for a while, but just the term “no-knead” was a turn-off to me. I love to knead bread. It’s easy, takes a mere few minutes, and is one of the most primal things you can do in the kitchen. Still, I took some time recently to dig into this popular trend, test it out, and analyze it out of intellectual curiosity. I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to buy a book. You don’t even need a new recipe. No-knead bread is a method. You might even say it’s a brilliant marketing gimmick. (Hey, it sold somebody a lot of books!) What it’s not is anything different than bread. And you can make it with Grandmother Bread. In fact, you can make it with any bread recipe, but I’m going to show you how to make it with mine.

If you want to. Remember, to some extent, it’s just a gimmick, and one that may or may not suit you and your bakestyle.

What is the same about a no-knead recipe and any other standard bread recipe? Almost everything. In other words, you make it with water, yeast, flour, and other ingredients as directed, depending on the specific type of bread you’re making. The dough goes through two rises and is baked. (The attention-grabbing five-minute claim refers to the time per day you actually spend working with the dough, not the total time it takes to create a loaf of bread. The only real five-minute bread is the bread you pick up from a shelf at a store and take to the cash register.)

What is different about a no-knead recipe from any other standard bread recipe? It’s a wet dough. That’s why you don’t (can’t) knead it. It’s comparable to the difference between drop biscuits and regular cut-out biscuits. It’s all about the extra liquid.
Most no-knead bread recipes call for 7-8 cups of flour (because, seriously, this is about as big of a batch of dough as you can handle using a large bowl or pot unless you want to use an extremely large container and take up an excessive amount of refrigerator space). This size dough is comparable to the two-loaf Grandmother Bread recipe, only the “no-kneaders” suggest this makes four loaves. Four small loaves. If you’re looking to make a small loaf for one evening’s dinner bread, this is fine. If you’re looking for a big, beautiful loaf for sandwiches, it’s not.

What I’m saying here is that this is why no-knead bread is not for everyone. Those of us with families who go through bread quickly would find less benefit from this method. Might as well go ahead and bake yourself up two solid-size loaves and get on with your day. However, if smaller loaves appeal to you, if you don’t have a tableful of mouths to feed, this might be for you, after all. It also may appeal to you if you have trouble with kneading from a physical standpoint, or if you are just scared of kneading. You also might want to try this method if you need bread on a specific day and think you won’t have time that day for the first stage of the process. You can prepare the dough in advance then take it out to bake when it’s time.

You can also make a “cheater” sourdough by not using the entire bowl before making the dough again. Leave a small amount, about a cup, of dough in the bowl and start the recipe all over again, mixing in that bit of “aged” dough. In a few weeks of continuing the process of remaking the dough with a bit of old dough every time, your dough will develop a sourdough flavor.

You can actually divide this dough however you like, making either three or four smallish dinner-sized shaped loaves, or two regular sandwich loaves (loaf pan size). You could make dinner rolls, hamburger and hot dog buns, cinnamon rolls, etc. If you want to use egg and oil in no-knead dough, add two eggs and 2/3 cup oil and only three cups of water instead of four. (The egg and oil make up the additional cup of liquid. Still use only 7 cups of flour.)

Note: There is a five-hour “wait time” before you can even get close to baking this bread. If you want bread in the same day and faster, make Grandmother bread following the standard recipe and directions. See the original Grandmother Bread recipe here. Scared of kneading? Learn how to make bread with a nine-year-old.

Other techniques for setting bread dough aside to bake another day using the standard Grandmother Bread recipe:

See Freezing Grandmother Bread dough and also see Overnight Cinnamon Rolls for how to refrigerate dough to bake later.

Use a very large bowl! (You might even use a big pot.)

Printer-Friendly Printer-Friendly
How to make No-Knead Grandmother Bread:

4 cups warm water
1 tablespoon yeast (1 packet)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
7 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, sugar, and salt. Let sit five minutes. Stir in first three cups of flour with a heavy spoon.
Mix in the rest of the flour, with the spoon, a cup or two at a time.
Lightly grease a sheet of aluminum foil and cover loosely.
Let the dough rest for two hours at room temperature. It will rise, and slightly collapse.

Place the bowl of dough in the refrigerator at least three hours or overnight. (Or as long as you want! You can let this dough sit in your refrigerator for weeks.) Pinch down the aluminum foil over the bowl to cover tightly while in the fridge or cover with a lid if you made the dough in a big pot. (Don’t transfer the dough at this point–make it in whatever you intend to keep it in.) The dough will be easier to work with (less sticky) if you refrigerate at least overnight before using the first time.

Edit to add: I’m using aluminum foil to cover the bowl here because when I put the bowl in the fridge, I can tighten the foil down on the bowl. You can loosely cover a bowl of rising bread with a damp dishtowel, greased waxed paper, etc, anything you like, but when you store dough in the fridge for possibly an extended period, you want to have it covered tightly to avoid off-flavors creeping into the dough. You can use a pot with a lid or pinched-down aluminum foil or any covered container, etc.

When you’re ready to bake some bread, take out the bowl or pot and sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough. DO NOT PUNCH THE DOUGH DOWN. Using a spoon, cut away the portion of dough you want–half, a third, a fourth, depending on what type and size of loaf you want to make.
The chilled dough actually will cut away fairly easily with a spoon, especially if you have refrigerated at least overnight.
You can take one portion at a time and put the bowl with the rest of the dough back in the fridge for another day, or use it all to make several loaves at once. Remember that if you want to continue this process to develop a sourdough flavor, leave about a cup of dough in the bowl and remake the recipe.

With floured hands, shape dough into loaves. DO NOT KNEAD. Just shape. Grasp the dough in both hands, pulling it out and tucking edges under as you shape.
You can make round loaves, long French- or Italian-style loaves, or (if using half of the dough) place it in a loaf pan. Lightly grease whatever pan you’re using and let the shaped dough rest for at least 30 minutes and no longer than 90. The dough won’t rise much during this time (the dough is cold) and that’s all right–it will rise in the oven. (Time the rest period to suit yourself and your schedule that day. Don’t go over 90 minutes because the dough will get too warm, flatten out, and free-form loaves will lose their shape before baking.)

Make slits with a knife across the tops if you like. Cold dough works really well for slashing.
Your bake time will vary depending on the size and type of loaf, anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. (Keep an eye on it!) Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven.

You can use variations on the dough, such as making Raisin Bread, but remember all your dough from that batch will be raisin bread. You can also use all or partial whole grains–remember to add homemade dough enhancer.

Will I take to using the no-knead method? Sometimes! I don’t always want to make space in my refrigerator for a big bowl of dough, so that is a real downside for me. I have a big fridge–and it’s almost always full. Making bread is simple and quick enough as it is (to me), and I like kneading dough. But. It’s just another bread-making technique to have in your bag of baking tricks. And for those of you who are afraid to make homemade bread–now you’re out of excuses. You don’t even have to knead! If you can stir a spoon in a bowl, you can make bread.
Make this your Year of the Bread. Get baking!

See this recipe at Farm Bell Recipes and save it to your recipe box.

See all of my Grandmother Bread recipes.

See All My Recipes
Printer-Friendly Printer-Friendly


  1. Angelia May says:

    Happy New Year Suzanne and family!!!!!!!

  2. JOJO says:

    :snowman: :woof: :snowman:
    I really need this no knead bread! I cant do the kneading because of a shoulder injury, so this is perfect, and this way we can have fresh bread and rolls anytime we are in the mood. Think of the variations. I will certainly make some today.
    At the super market this type of artisian bread costs nearly $4 a loaf. I will try baking it on my pizza stone.
    Thank you Suzanne.



  3. Ruth - north CA says:

    I grew up with casserole breads… like Cottage Cheese Herb Bread … that were no-knead, batter breads. They are dense, moist, earthy, awesome breads that go well with soups. Good to throw in the bottom of a bowl and cover with stew like a trencher. I don’t recall any recipe much larger than 4 – 5 cups of flour since it was going into a casserole dish and there was always cheese in it. Lovely cheese!

    But they always feel like a cheat! I’m with you for the pleasure of kneading a yeast bread … even have a mixer capable of handling the kneading mechanically and rarely use that feature. It’s sooo much more fun to do the hands on!

    Happy New Year all round …. 8^)

  4. ScreamingSardine says:

    I actually have the “five minute a day” bread book. While I like the taste of the bread, the dough is just too sticky to work with to make their other recipes. I’ve been wanting to try your Grandmother bread, but I wasn’t looking forward to the kneading. (I have a bad shoulder – adhesive capsulitis that still hasn’t healed up in 2.5 years). Anyway, your reference to your previous post of kneading bread with your daughter looks simple enough. It looks like I could do most of the kneading with my “good” arm!

    Question: when you cover the bread after kneading, can I use a wet, clean towel, instead of oiled tinfoil or cling wrap?

  5. skippymom says:

    Huh. Weird. :sheepjump:
    The post, not the method.

  6. Barbara says:

    Personally, I enjoy kneading my bread and the Zen of it. Kneading is part of the synergy of a homemade loaf. If you cannot knead which sometimes I can’t I throw it in the bread machine and use the dough setting and let it do the work and then take it out, shape it, let it rise and bake.

  7. CindyP says:

    I have made the “5 min” bread before and the only upside…I was able to make a few homemade rolls at dinnertime and not have any left over, or a small loaf of fresh bread just for dinner. It does make a nice crusty loaf if you put it in a cast iron dutch oven and bake with the lid on for a bit of the baking (all of the extra liquid). Downside, that huge bowl of dough in the fridge. I made it once. And actually the texture seemed quite different to me….maybe I was just used to my own kneaded Grandmother bread….

    It’s a great recipe! I don’t think any method you use will change that!

  8. carol says:

    Happy New Years, Suzanne and the readers here!
    Thank you for the no-knead recipe. Unfortunately, ONE of my resolutions this year was to stop eating unhealthy (for me, I am a diabetic) carbs. Would this method work with whole wheat or other whole grain flour? The whole grain stuff is better for diabetics. My husband has made a very dense, very primative whole wheat bread that’s okay for skillet toast but leave much to be desired as a sandwich bread. I’d love to try this method and get some really beautiful loaves like you show here….if I can do the whole grain. Any ideas?
    Thank you!“

  9. Debnfla3 says:

    I use this method a lot.

    I mix up a smaller batch of dough to use for dinner rolls. I don’t always want to cook up a huge batch of dinner rolls for just David and I. So, I cut off enough dough for 2-4 dinner rolls for the two of us. That way I don’t feel obligated to EAT the whole pan of rolls! LOL You know they are always better fresh and hot out of the oven…hahahaha!


  10. Angela P. says:

    :sun: Leave it to you Suzanne, you broke the code on the bread making. You are sooo amazing. Keep going, doing and finding. You are my sunshine. Happy New Year to you and your family from all of us at Purple Gate Farm! With your blog, my years are Great!

  11. claudia w says:

    Interesting, but I have no room in my fridge either. I think I may try it once, just so I can say I did, but I like the kneading too and will most likely stick with that.
    Thanks for the new method though!
    Happy New Year!

  12. rain says:

    :fairy: Happy New Year Suzanne and family !! :sun: you have made this year so much better-I’m so glad I found Chickensintheroad ! :snoopy: Wishing you all the happiness-sun & stars ! :happyflower: rain

  13. Sarah in Sanford says:

    Happy New Year Suzanne!!

  14. Sandra says:

    Happy New Year Suzanne and everyone else!
    Thanks for the new method. You manage to bring such fun and a sense of adventure to it all. We appreciate that so much. May 2010 be another year of adventures with you.

  15. Susan at Charm of the Carolines says:

    Suzanne, the bread looks delicious! I love making bread…performance art in the kitchen. Now if we could just find a recipe for homemade bread with no carbs, Life would be perfect!

    Happy New Year!


  16. Connie says:

    Oh, this looks wonderful. I will give it a shot – very soon.

    I too like kneading bread. It’s wonderfuly therapeutic. For bread-making virgins, I posted explicit instructions at

    I don’t usually push one of my blog posts, but I’m kind of tickled with this one. Folks have told me that it served them well in learning how to make bread.


  17. Janessaings says:

    I’m not sure I can make bread without kneading…like others here have said, it’s almost therapeutic. It looks yummy though.

  18. Karen Anne says:

    Now I know why you need all that tinfoil 🙂

    Like my Mom and Grandmom, I cover dough with a damp dishtowel.

  19. Nicole says:

    I wish you and your family a very happy new year! I actually am just in my second rise of Grandmother bread to go with dinner tonight. I am a new reader and have baked several of your recipes in the past few weeks. I found you through Skippy over at I Make Soap and I am slowly becoming a regular reader. Thank you for the recipes!

  20. Abiga/Karen says:

    Happy New Year! For some reason when I have tried this method of making bread it has not turned out well. I tried the white loaves and whole grain which I found in Mother Earth mag but they just did not rise very well at all. I do not know what I did wrong. Oh well there is still wonderful grandmother bread!

  21. EightPondFarm says:

    Happy New Year Suzanne and family, and thank you for all this experimentation. I do not know how you find the time to do everything! :eating:

  22. anne says:

    This recipe looks fantastic!
    Looks easier than the rise type
    Your photos are great and so yummy looking!!

    Suzanne and family have a wonderful 2010!


  23. NorthCountryGirl says:

    Happy New Year! I tried the no-knead bread recipe in Mother Earth News. Besides taking longer, it produced a bread with a coarser texture and lots of air holes. Not too good for sandwiches. The kneading produces a finer texture and is better for sandwich slicing. No-knead would be good for breads or buns where texture doesn’t matter. I’m with you. I like the “Grammy” bread that requires kneading. It produces bread that makes excellent sandwich material.

  24. Claudia says:

    LIke you, I need to knead! But I really enjoyed your comparison between the breads. Happy New Years everyone! :smilerabbit:

  25. BuckeyeGirl says:

    Carol, I cook for my 91 year old dad who is diabetic too and he simply demands bread! LOL I use whole grains and with the dough enhancer added, and the bread will be great. Much lighter in texture!

    We eat lots of other whole grains too, and sweet potatoes which are much better (how wacky is THAT? heh, yes I know the science, it’s still funny.)

    If you want to, add a cup of bread flour to the mix too, not quite as healthy, but not horrible. The dough enhancer is the real secret to using whole wheat though.

  26. catslady says:

    Just popped in to say Happy New Year everyone!

  27. Lola-Dawn says:

    I’ve been experimenting with no-knead breads too … but sometimes I miss the kneading. Once in awhile, I even resort to my bread machine. It all depends on my “bread mood”!

    I’ve really enjoyed your blog this past year. Happy 2010!

  28. ScreamingSardine says:

    Thanks, Karen Anne, for letting me know I can cover dough with a damp dishtowel. I’ll try it soon!

  29. Valerie says:

    I had never heard of no-knead bread, so thanks for test driving this for us.
    Wishing you and your family and the Stringtown Rising Farm a very happy and healthy New Year.

  30. Mary Lee says:

    I lovr your blog! You have a new reader in me. I love the pictures! Your blog reminds me so much of my childhood – which is worlds away from me now that I live in the big city with a stressful job! Thanks for your posts!

  31. jean says:

    I am one of the people who love this method. Kneading dough just wasn’t working out for me. I’m glad you mentioned how much bread it actually makes. If you try to get 4 loaves out of each batch forget it. I just go for two good size loaves. Oh and Happy New Year. I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us this year!

  32. kerri says:

    It’s been a long time since I’ve baked bread, but my hubby has been urging me to try the 5 minute bread. Yes, such a misleading monicker. No bread takes 5 mins! It’s interesting to read your observations about it. You make a very good point.
    Our oldest daughter has tried the basic bread and a few variations. She brought us some for the Christmas feast – a pumpkin bread. It was quite good but a little bland as far as the pumpkin flavor (her own opinion).
    I think this winter I’ll try baking bread again. You’ve inspired me. Thanks :happyflower:
    Wishing you and your family a happy and blessed New Year, Suzanne! :moo:

  33. TXLady says:

    I have the book and have made it a few times and the neat thing about it is at the last minute in the afternoon you can grab the dough and make a loaf for the evening meal. I prefer my regular recipes, the taste and texture is better and like you Suzanne…I just love the process. I can’t do all the kneading anymore so I use my Kitchen Aid or my bread machine to mix and then do the last rise and bake in the oven. I get enough handling and kneading in to satisfy that urge without ruining my shoulders. I bake all of our bread and rolls and my friends all think I am nuts to do it but it’s just part of my routine. I started doing it all when I was recovering from Lung cancer and couldn’t get out and about so it was a nice way to pass the time. I made 3 loaves and a pan of cornbread this afternoon…It is Primal…


  34. TXLady says:

    I wanted to add that the wet dough of the 5 minute recipe is very slack and takes a little getting used to but if you are used to making ciabatta, it’s very much the same thing and the recipe makes a pretty good ciabatta.

  35. juststartn says:

    My 9 yr old loves to make the no-knead bread, but we use a different recipe–3c water, 6 1/2 c flour, some salt and yeast. That’s it. It has worked pretty well for us. I cover it with a damp cloth and put it in front of the fireplace for the first rise (I put it in another, greased bowl for rising, since I like to have my mixer bowl available for use, lol). I rarely have any dough left–one recipe’s worth of bread gets cooked in one day, although when I do have extra, it goes into the spare fridge, if I have room (5 small children drink a LOT of milk. LOL).

    I have the knead feature on my mixer, which I have used, and I do enjoy kneading by hand–but I am on the shorter side, and kneading on the counters is too high. Between a bad back, and a countertop that is just a touch too high, well, you end up in pain. Something I cannot afford. So, I can set my 9yr old to work, mixing it up in the stand mixer, and then do the transfer/rise/shaping myself…saves me time.

    I’ve not yet tried Grandmother bread. I think I need to go back and read all of the posts…lol…

    Happy New Year, everyone!


  36. Deborah @ Antiquity Oaks says:

    Just leaving the dough in the frig for a couple days will cause it to develop a sourdough flavor, so you don’t have to save up any for the next batch. I wanted to mention this because if people aren’t expecting it, they might think the dough has gone bad — as my son thought one time. And if you don’t like that sourdough flavor, then don’t leave it in the frig for more than a day.

  37. Julie Harward says:


  38. Annmarie says:

    My mama bought the book. She made the bread. I loved it!

    I bought the book. I made the bread. It didn’t work.

    I failed at no knead bread. FAILED.

    I’ll continue to make bread the old fashioned way.

  39. debbie says:

    A whole bowlful of sourdough rye bread dough in the fridge sounds wonderful! Just a question about the aluminum foil, once the dough starts to sour do you get a bad reaction with the foil on it. I don’t think you are supposed to let sourdough come in contact with any kind of metal. Does anyone know for sure?

  40. debbie says:

    Thanks, Suzanne. Next mission in life, gathering dough enhancer ingredients and making some people in my house very, very happy. As always, you are awesome!

  41. Rebecca says:

    I am not a bread maker so I’m intrigued and giving this a try. I have a big bowl in the frig. Already something isn’t right. During the two hours of sitting at room temperature the dough rose OVER the bowl rim on one side – it more than doubled in size. I didn’t punch it down, just added more foil and stuck in the frig. Tomorrow will tell! I feel so … accomplished!

  42. UlrikeDG says:

    Most no-knead bread recipes call for 7-8 cups of flour (because, seriously, this is about as big of a batch of dough as you can handle using a large bowl or pot unless you want to use an extremely large container and take up an excessive amount of refrigerator space). This size dough is comparable to the two-loaf Grandmother Bread recipe, only the “no-kneaders” suggest this makes four loaves. Four small loaves. If you’re looking to make a small loaf for one evening’s dinner bread, this is fine. If you’re looking for a big, beautiful loaf for sandwiches, it’s not.

    I was a bit sad to see you “dissing” the 5-Min Bread thing when I first clicked this post. Then I read the paragraph above, and YES, THIS! YOU ARE RIGHT ON, 100% CORRECT. 😆 I have four kids and a husband. This is exactly the problem I have with 5-Min Bread. The recipe makes two, maybe 3, days worth of bread/rolls/whatever for my family, and then I’ve got to start over. Even if I doubled the recipe, it wouldn’t fit in my fridge, which also has to hold FOOD for a family of 6. And, yeah, “5 minutes” is a bit of an exaggeration on their part, as well.

    You also might want to try this method if you need bread on a specific day and think you won’t have time that day for the first stage of the process.

    I’ve been using Grandmother Bread for my cheater. I just make a double batch and bake half. The other half goes into the fridge after the first rise. A day or two later, I pull out “reserve loaf”, shape it, let it warm & rise, then bake it. Perfecto! Yes, there is kneading involved, but as you pointed out, if you don’t have physical limitations the actual time involved is less than the no-knead version. (BTW, I usually knead bread in my mixer w/ dough hook, so even that’s not a problem for me.) :woof:

  43. rileysmom says:

    I’ve made a no knead pumpernickel that turns out well. I’ve got this recipe “resting” in my fridge to bake a loaf tomorrow. I can’t wait to try it!

  44. Natalie O. says:

    I’ve been wanting to try this. I’m a kneading failure. I CANNOT get dough smooth and elastic no matter how long I work with it. But I do want to make homemade bread.

    I’ll try no-knead. But what am I doing wrong??

  45. Amy says:

    I saw this post on the first day I’d had time to myself, no more Christmas obligations, and suddenly decided I simply HAD to try the original Grandmother bread recipe. I loved that for once I would know what every single ingredient in my bread was – and that there were so few! I couldn’t get my dough smooth and elastic either, but I pressed ahead. It was globbing onto my fingers like a glove when I gave up kneading and left it to rise the first time. It sagged into a puddle of dough when I shaped it into loaves (on a cookie sheet, no less – we’re between houses and my loaf pans are buried deep in a storage space). And yet, after thirty minutes in the oven, I had two beautiful round loaves of heavenly-smelling bread. Slightly dense, I’ll admit, but not in a bad way. Not at all. So thanks for posting the no-knead recipe, and if I gain weight this year because I can’t stop eating this bread – I’ll know who to blame. 😉

  46. Mary says:

    How much dough enhancer do you add when using whole grains in this bread.

  47. rileysmom says:

    Well, I tried 1/2 of the dough in a loaf pan. I was worried cause it did not rise much in 75 minutes. It did rise quite a bit in the oven, but it was still a pretty dense loaf for “sandwich bread.” I’ll try the other 1/2 in a free form loaf…..

  48. kathleen cooper says:

    :cowsleep: :moo: new here looking up no kneed bread site looks great need a lot of help this spring growing tomatoes in hanging upside down containers

  49. mirela says:

    I just made the no knead bread this weekend, with my son. It was a success! Awesome taste and texture, thank you so much for the recipe! We would love to try the whole grain version, but the dough enhancer is a bit intimidating 🙂

  50. Wendy says:

    Do you have to let it rise at room temp for 2 hours? The only time I, too, want to NOT knead dough is if I want to make it in advance of a busy day. But since all days are busy, it would be great if I could just mix the dough before I go to bed, and then fridge it w/out having to wait 2 hours. What do you think? Thank you!

Add Your Thoughts