Almost No Knead Bread

There are a lot of no knead bread recipes out there and most of them are pretty much the same. I call my recipe “Almost No Knead Bread” because no matter what, a bit of kneading is still required although it really is minimal. The real secret to my version is using a “Preferment” or “Pâte Fermentée”. (Find the recipe here).

What does that mean? A “Preferment” or “Pâte Fermentée” is simply a quantity of bread dough made a few hours or days ahead of time or retained from a previous batch of bread dough and all or a portion of it is incorporated in the batch your going to make presently. This adds, among other things, big flavour, texture, quality and a longer shelf life to the bread. For a bit more information about that, follow the recipe link above.

The recipe that follows makes a “boule” of bread. The same recipe can be used to make any other shapes of bread such as round, oval, and oblong loaves.

So let’s get baking the best bread you’ve ever made

Almost No Knead Bread

Zen Chef
A delicious bread made with a minimal amount of effort and maximum flavour.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Rise/Rest Times 14 hours 10 minutes
Total Time 15 hours 25 minutes
Course Baked Goods
Cuisine International


  • Large Bowl
  • Dough Scraper
  • Bench Scraper
  • Kitchen Scales
  • Measuring Cup 500 ml
  • Large stock or spaghetti pot with lid
  • Parchment paper, wide format


  • 625 g Bread Flour
  • 125 g Preferment See recipe link in post
  • 440 ml Water Warmed to 44℃/110℉
  • 2 g Yeast Traditional dry yeast
  • 12 g Salt
  • 10 g Sugar


  • If you are keeping your preferment in the fridge, take it out and let in come up to room temperature
  • If you have a large amount of preferment, measure out 120g
  • To the warm water add sugar and stir to dissolve
  • Add yeast to water and give it a quick stir with a wooden stir stick
  • Let sit for 10 minutes until yeast forms a foamy cap
  • Meanwhile measure out flour into the bowl
  • Add salt to flour and thoroughly mix into flour
  • Drop the preferment into the flour and using your hands, pinch off small amounts of preferment into the flour until all the preferment is used up
  • Toss the flour and bits of preferment until evenly distributed
  • When ready, add the water, sugar and yeast mix to the flour
  • Use a wooden spoon to mix flour and liquid until you get a shaggy dough (2-3 minutes)
  • Use your hands and a dough scraper to quickly knead the dough into ball (1-2 minutes)
  • Cover the bowl with cling wrap and set aside letting it rise overnight or for 12 hours
  • Turn dough out onto a flowered work surface using dough scraper if necessary
  • Quickly roll dough into a oval log dusting with a little flour as needed
  • Grab the log at one end and lift it up above the work surface letting the weight of the dough elongate it downwards giving it a jiggle to help it along
  • Place the dough back on the work surface and fold it in half lengthwise
  • Rotate the dough 90°, grab it at the far end and repeat the lift and jiggle
  • Repeat the process 3 more times
  • Roll into a ball and place back into the flowered bowl
  • Cover with cling wrap or a tea towel and let it rest and rise for 2 hours
  • Towards the end of the 2 hours take a large dutch oven, stock or spaghetti pot with a lid, place it into your oven and preheat to 250℃/480℉
  • Once the stove is up to temperature, turn out the dough onto your floured work surface, slice off ~120 g with a bench scraper to keep as your next preferment and quickly form the rest into a ball
  • Place this dough ball in the middle of a square piece of parchment paper about 38 – 40 cm square, cover with tea towel and let it rest for a few minutes
  • Open the stove and, using heat proof gloves, remove the lid from the pot (leaving it in the stove), quickly take out the pot and place it on a heat proof surface
  • Remove the tea towel from the dough, grab the parchment paper by the corners and lift the dough into the pot with the paper
  • Take a razer blade, lame, filleting knife or other sharp instrument and slash the dough a few times to create a diamond pattern careful not to burn yourself in the process
  • Place the pot back into the stove and cover with the lid
  • Set a timer for 30 minutes
  • Bring the stove back to 250℃/480℉
  • Once up to temperature, lower the temperature to 230℃/445℉
  • After 30 minutes remove the lid from the pot and continue to bake for another 30 minutes
  • When finished baking, remove the pot from the oven, lift the bread out by the corners of the parchment paper and place on a wire rack to cool
  • Admire your freshly baked masterpiece


The amount of preferment to use for any given batch of bred dough should be about 20% of the flour used.
I use a stainless steel Lagostina Dutch Oven with a glass cover for baking the bread. it’s about 6L/quarts in size. It has silicone inserts in the handles which I remove as they are only rated for 230 C.
Stretching and folding the dough helps to develop long gluten strands.
I use the same dough for making oval or ciabatta shaped loaves but bake these on a pizza stone.
Keyword boule, bread, no knead bread, preferment
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