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whole food ~ well made

a fresh-baked loaf of no-knead multigrain bread in a cast iron pot at lynnecury.com.

A Miraculous No-Knead Multigrain Bread

It is a miracle to bake crusty loaves of no-knead bread without following the old rules of bread baking. This multigrain loaf has made a believer out of me.

Why, you may wonder, would I ever resist a technique that produces wonderful results with the lightest workload?

If I could answer that question, every aspect of my life would immediately improve. Also, I’d  have resumed regular home bread baking sooner than now.

Case in point: no-knead bread.

Making Peace with No-Knead Bread

Years ago (before kids), I was a committed sourdough bread baker, even entertaining notions of opening a bread bakery.

A baked loaf of no-knead multigrain bread at lynnecurry.com.

I trained by master bakers in France, I honored the sacrament-like traditions with bread dough. I relished hand shaping all those marvelous shapes–from boules (rounds), bâtards (footballs) and épis (wheat shafts).

When the no-knead method came along, I believed in it theoretically, since I had tasted originator Jim Lahey’s spectacular Italian-style breads. And I even understood the basic science of it. Still, I resisted.

How No-Knead Works

{Skip this unless you’re a food science geek.} Gluten, which is formed from glutenin and gliadin in the presence of a liquid to create the network that traps carbon dioxide to rise the bread.

a bowl of dough rising to make no-knead multigrain bread at lynnecurry.com.

It develops in three ways: 1) mechanically (mixing/kneading); 2) chemically (oxidizers, like ascorbic acid); or 3) fermentatively, (during rising). Learn more.

I read all about no-knead bread, but stayed stuck with my old ways.

It’s easier to understand how no-knead bread works than to comprehend how long it took me to adopt slow and life-freeing bread baking.

While we’re toiling at the office, blogging, hiking, lying around watching movies, whatever, the natural fermentation in the dough provides everything it needs to become bread.

Trust in No-Knead Bread

Resistance is a funny thing, rooted as it is in habit and familiarity. Overcoming it takes a tiny leap of faith, and then comes change.

The only downside is that the gluten structure is not strong enough to make those eye-catching self-supporting bread shapes. So, you need to bake it in a pot.

A baked loaf of no-knead multigrain bread at lynnecurry.com.

Because once I tried it–and baked several crusty, crackling rounds of bread, including a wonderfully, seedy multigrain–my doubts evaporated like oven steam.

After years of following the sacred steps of bread baking, I still can’t quite believe no-knead bread is possible. {And I often wonder what my instructors in France think of these new-fangled techniques.}

It is simply a miracle to make such good bread by mixing ingredients in a bowl, letting the dough sit around for a full sleep cycle and then baking it in a hot covered pot.

Nonetheless, I’ve adopted the no-knead way of life. And I’ve adapted the method to produce my favorite breads, including this multigrain and seedy no-knead loaf.

I hope it changes your life the same way it has mine.

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a fresh-baked loaf of no-knead multigrain bread in a cast iron pot at lynnecury.com.
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No-Knead Multigrain Bread

Course: Breads
Cuisine: American
Keyword: multigrain bread
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Rising time: 12 hours
Servings: 1 round loaf
Author: Lynne Curry

This recipe is my simplified, seedier version (with weights added so there's no need for measuring cups) of Portland baker and food writer Ellen Jackson's Multigrain No-Knead Bread. It produces a moist, open-crumbed multigrain bread that I crave for breakfast or for a simple tartine with goat cheese and tomato jam. This loaf stays fresh and moist for several days.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (16 ounces/454 grams) lukewarm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) active dry or instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons (1.5 ounces/42 grams) honey brown rice syrup or molasses
  • 2 cups (8.5 ounces/240 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (4 ounces/113 grams) whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup (3.75 ounces/106 grams) rye flour
  • 1 tablespoon (18 grams) fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (2.5 ounces/71 grams) raw sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup (1.25 ounces/35 grams) raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup (1.25 ounces/35 grams) brown or gold flaxseeds
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce/28 grams) pumpkin seeds, plus additional for sprinkling on top optional
  • 1/4 cup (1.5 ounces/43 grams) multigrain cereal, plus additional for coating bowl such as Bob’s Red Mill 8-grain cereal

Instructions

  1. Stir the water, yeast, honey, all-purpose, whole-wheat and rye flours, salt, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds and multigrain cereal together in a large bowl with a rubber spatula to form a sticky, lumpy dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to ferment and rise at room temperature for at least 12 and up to 20 hours. It will rise and look very bubbly.

  2. Dust the counter lightly with flour and scrape the dough out onto it. Flour your hands and fold the dough in thirds like a letter, flip it over and let it rest on the counter for about 15 minutes. 

  3. Meanwhile, line a large bowl or colander with a linen kitchen towel and sprinkle it thickly flour all the way up the sides along with the multigrain cereal. Sprinkle a handful of additional pumpkin seeds in the bowl for decoration, if desired.

  4. Dust your hands with flour and scoop up the dough, using a bench scraper to tuck the edges under to form a ball. Flip it over, smooth side down into the prepared bowl. Cover the dough with a towel or plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place (70-75 degrees F) for 1 1/2 hours.

  5. About 30 minutes in advance of baking, center the oven rack and place a 6-8-quart cast-iron or enamel casserole with a lid. Preheat the oven to 500°F. 

  6. When the loaf feels pillowy, remove the hot casserole from the oven onto a hot pad. Carefully lift off the lid and set it nearby. Lift the dough in the towel from the colander and in one smooth motion, flip the dough seam side down into the hot pot, holding back the towel. use a razor blade or serrated knife to slash the top of the dough in an arc along one side. Use potholders to put on the lid and slip it into the oven.

  7. Reduce the heat to 450°F and set the timer for 25 minutes. Remove the lid and bake the loaf uncovered until it is darkly browned, about 25 minutes more. Transfer the loaf to a cooling rack and leave it to cool for at least 1 hour before slicing.

Comments

  1. JoeyD

    Do you think this dough will fit in a 9.25×5.25×2.75 loaf pan? I understand the crust will be softer cooking in that vessel. I will also fill a cast iron dish with ice cubes for steam/oven spring.

    1. I think it’s too much dough for a standard loaf pan but you can try it. Or you could bake it in an 9-inch round cake pan. Either way, I’m sure it will be very tasty. Good luck!

    2. JoeyD

      Thanks for the follow-up! Although it overproofed some (returned home at hour than anticipated, needed to preheat oven, etc) it was really good and forgiving. I’m going to try it again when I’m certain to be around to monitor it better. I will add some sweetness in the form of honey and may try bread flour to experience. Best thing about bread baking is even the mistakes are great!

  2. JoeyD

    Edit: I tried molasses the first time and will try honey instead

    1. You’re so right, Joey. It’s hard to go wrong and even the non-Instragrammable loaves are worth savoring.

  3. Ida

    Would like to make this with more honey. Having trouble adjusting the liquid. Any help appreciated!

    1. You can definitely add more honey, Ida. When you say you’re having trouble with the liquid, what do you mean?

  4. Danielle McCulloch

    The loaf looks beautiful but do you have pictures of the crumb? Is it dense?

    1. Thanks to your prompt, I added some images of the crumb of the baked loaf. As with any bread made with whole wheat flour, whole grains and seeds, the gluten structure will not be as open as white-flour breads. The long first rise produces a relatively airy dough, and if you take care to preserve those air bubbles while you shape the loaf and proof it long enough, you’ll end up with a lovely texture in the finished bread.

  5. Melissa

    Does this recipe really work with only 1/2 tsp active dry yeast? Other no-knead breads I’ve made use a lot more. Thanks!

    1. Yes, it works. But that’s a great observation. I was curious, so I took a look at a couple of other recipes for reference. Of course, the amount of yeast is all in relationship to the total amount of flour. There’s quite a range: The New York Times recipe uses 1/4 teaspoon yeast for 3 1/2 cups flour while King Arthur calls for 1 1/2 tablespoons for 7 1/2 cups of flour.

  6. Obron

    The photos of you multigrain have pumpkin seeds on top. I’m new to bread baking. Your recipe doesn’t say – when how do you put seeds on top of bread so it will stick? Thank you!

    1. Very observant, Obron. Thanks for your question. The pumpkin seeds on top are an optional decorative element. I updated the recipe to clarify that if you want to use them on top, you sprinkle a few into the bottom of the bowl you use for proofing the loaf. I just make a loaf of this bread today (it’s my favorite for avocado toast) but skipped the seeds on top. It’s all up to you–that is one of the big lessons of becoming a bread baker. Enjoy the process!

  7. Vicky

    Hello 🙂
    What do you suggest we substitute if we prefer not to use rye flour?

    1. Hi Vicky, Just use any whole grain flour you like in place of the rye flour.

  8. WendyW

    Can I use bread flour instead of all purpose?

    1. You can substitute bread flour in the recipe, Wendy. Here is some good general bread baking advice on that subject from King Arthur Flour: https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/blog/2016/07/21/substitute-bread-flour-all-purpose-flour

  9. WendyW

    5 stars
    I started baking bread about a year ago. Not only is this the easiest but the most delicious bread I’ve made to date. I used King Arthur bread flour (what I had the most of) and got a nice rise and a perfect loaf. I love grainy healthy bread – this recipe is my new go to!

    1. So happy to hear that, Wendy! I’m with you on grainy bread–especially for breakfast with almond butter or avocado. Thanks!

  10. Ruth Einstein

    Two questions: First, I have made this delicious bread twice using weights rather than measures and the dough after proving is so sloppy that I can’t pick it up off the counter to get it into the prepared bowl. Since you make this regularly, do you have more success with measures or with weights? Second, I have made this in a 7-quart pot and the bread is maybe about three inches high at most. What size pot do you use to get the taller loaf, or perhaps can the amounts be multiplied by 50%?

    1. So happy you like this loaf, too, Ruth. To answer your first question, I always use scale the dough when I make it–and it is very wet. So, I handle it as little as possible. After the bench rest, I use my bench scraper to shape it into a ball and then use that tool like a spatula to swiftly transfer it into the bowl or basket for the final proof. Hope that helps, but let me know! (1/2)

    2. For your second question, you can readily scale this recipe up if you’d like. I am wondering if you’re not getting the volume you’d like because of the proof, not the size of the pot. (I most often use a 7-quart cast iron pot, too, and you can see my loaf is not *super* high.) You might try pushing your second proof a little longer to be sure that you’re getting the best rise possible. In my experience, timing the final proof is the trickiest part of bread baking since it depends on the temperature and humidity of your kitchen–so it changes often with the weather. The more I “push” the final proof, the better oven spring I get when the dough meets the hot oven. The hard part is judging when your dough is proofed just enough but not too much. This mostly comes from practice. But you can check it by pressing your index finger into the dough to the first knuckle; if it bounces back, it needs more proofing time, and if it slowly springs back, it’s time to bake.

    3. David

      5 stars
      I’ve been using a 3.5 quart dutch oven and the loaf rises a lot higher.

  11. Jesse

    I’m attempting to make this for the first time. The dough is too sticky to “fold” it just sticks to my hands or a scraper even floured and doesn’t seem to have any structure/elasticity even though I pulled it out of the bowl at 11.5 hours. My kitchen tends to be on the warm side (75-78F) so I’m super paranoid of over-fermenting. Am I just overthinking this?

    1. Trust your instincts, Jesse, and try not to second guess yourself–especially since you’re making loaf this for the first time. True, this is a sticky, slack dough and it is also much less elastic due to the whole wheat flour and seeds. So, it will not perform or have the structure you’d get with a white flour dough. Although your kitchen is warm, it’s highly unlikely that your dough is over-fermented. Is the dough very bubbly? If it was at 11.5 hours, then great! If you’re concerned about overproofing the final loaf before baking–and we know that a slower proof will develop more flavor–you can put it in a cooler with a chill pack to create a nice humid proofing chamber or even retard the dough in the fridge. But I hope you have stay the course! I await your results.

    2. David

      5 stars
      Jesse: Sticky is from the rye flour. Use two cups of whole wheat flour instead of the whole wheat and the rye and the dough will be much more easily workable.
      To add rye flavor, substitute some rye flakes, up to 2/3 cup, for an equivalent amount of the whole grain additions, like the multigrain cereal.

  12. Jesse

    5 stars
    Well, the loaf came out fantastic in the end. It was tricky since it was so sticky but with enough flour coating it after I let it “rest”, I got it into a nice shape and let it do its final proof, then baked. It’s more moist and slightly denser inside than the plain AP loaf I made the other day (which was super light & fluffy), but it’s delicious.

    1. Love that follow up, Jesse. You know, it took me a long time to figure out how to handle very sticky doughs, too. I’m so happy you enjoyed this Germanic, multigrain loaf–a completely different universe than plain flour loaves. But hey, I love them all! Congratulations!

  13. I’ve been baking no-knead bread, from the Jim Lahey recipes, every week for about 3 years now and only, in rare instances, have I had a bad batch. When I saw 454 grams of water, my first thought was “way too much water,” but, in another rare instance, didn’t trust my own instincts and went ahead and add that much water. The whole thing, after 18 hours, went into the trash. It was so wet there was no way to handle it. Lots of flour and seeds wasted. I made a trip to my local organic coop to try and find the seeds and whole grain cereal. I’m going to try it again tonight and start with 300 grams of H2O and add more as needed. I’ll let you know how that turns out. All I wanted was a seed bread. I got a wet mush instead.

    1. I hate that story, Gary–and so much good ingredient in the trash. I’m truly sorry this was your experience! I’m curious: Did you attempt to bake it or toss it out raw? This is a high hydration dough (100% by weight), and it is a completely different animal than Lahey’s no-knead recipe (88% hydration). Two other key differences: the hydration rates for whole wheat flour and rye are higher than all-purpose or bread flour–and then there are the seeds (notably the flax) that absorb some of the water. It is more like a German seed bread, and the dough is very slack (yes, maybe even like a wet mush when unbaked). I think that reducing the water could be troublesome, but I hope that you report back that you got great results with your method.

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