No-Knead Bread Recipe | Chocolate & Zucchini (2024)

Le Pain qu’on ne pétrit pas

Complete fiascoes are few and far between in my kitchen. I’m not sure whom to thank for this — my lucky star, my karma, my mom? — but the fact is that the things I cook or bake very rarely end up in the trash. I have disappointments of course, dishes that turn out a bit meh despite my high hopes, but nothing quite as débâcle-like as when I tried my hand at the recipe everyone has been raving about lately, stressing how laughably easy and forgiving it is: Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread.

As laughably easy and forgiving as it may be, it did take me three trials and three days to get it to work. What went wrong, you ask?

Problem number one: the consistency of the dough. The New York Times recipe gave the amount of flour in cups: this introduces a considerable bias depending on how one measures (spooning vs. scooping), a bias that is further multiplied by the fact that the recipe calls for three cups of flour. I used the generally accepted volume-to-weight conversion for flour (one cup = 120 grams), and this produced a dough that was so soupy — more like a batter, really — I found it impossible to work with as instructed. This problem was solved by turning to and then bread experts, who had kindly calculated the right weight of flour based on the target hydration of the dough.

Problem number two, my stupid fault entirely. I own a sugar thermometer, an oven thermometer, and a medical thermometer, but I don’t own a thermometer that will measure the temperature of a room and I have no notion whatsoever of how warm my apartment is. So when the recipe said, “warm room temperature, about 70°F,” I decided that it meant, “on top of the radiator.” The unfortunate consequence of this — and it took me two failed attempts but just one question to Maxence to realize my blunder — was that the dough overproofed like mad. By the time I was supposed to fold it and gather it into a ball (try shaping soup into a ball, it’s fun), its peak state of proofing was a distant memory: it played dead during the second rise, and baked into a gummy pancake so sorry-looking that even Parisian pigeons would have turned their beak up, and those guys will eat anything.

Embitter or discourage me these failures did not. Judging by the number of happy customers it had garnered, the recipe had to have something going for it, and by Toutatis I was determined to catch the magic by its fluttering wings and slam it down on my kitchen counter. So on day three I prepared a new loaf, and this one turned out to be so astonishingly successful it was worth every single minute and every single gram of flour sacrificed in the process.

My third loaf was baked late on Sunday evening in my chick yellow Coquelle, and this gave it a nice shape not unlike that of the Scrameustache’s space shuttle.

Our neighbors happened to drop by for a drink and a chat just as I was taking it out of the oven (I suspect they just followed the smell from the landing); we murmured words of support to one another during the forty-five excruciating minutes it took for the bread to cool down properly. And when the time had finally come for me to slice it and we each tried a few bites (with and without demi-sel butter), I just about fainted from the combination of joy, pride, and sensory bliss.

A golden crust of ideal thickness and consistency, offering just the right amount of crisp ridges and chewy valleys, a crumb so supple and fleshy it almost felt alive, and a subtle complexity of scent and flavor that wasn’t so assertive as to overwhelm what you’d serve the bread with — this was a loaf I would be more than willing to pay good money for at the boulangerie. By the following morning it had developed the faintest hint of a hazelnut smell — this went remarkably well with a good spread of macadamia butter — and it kept very well for the two days it took us to munch our way through it.

I haven’t yet had time to start a fourth loaf, but I plan to sometime over the weekend. I feel reasonably confident about it (whichever way you look at it, there is no way my one successful loaf in three could have been beginner’s luck), and I am curious to try using a bit of chestnut flour this time and to follow Sam Fromartz’s advice to set 1/4 cup of the dough aside, let it develop in the fridge for two days, and use it for extra flavor in the next loaf.

No-Knead Bread Recipe | Chocolate & Zucchini (1)

No-Knead Bread Recipe | Chocolate & Zucchini (2)

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No-Knead Bread Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 14 hours

One loaf.

No-Knead Bread Recipe | Chocolate & Zucchini (3)


  • 470 grams (16 1/2 ounces) bread flour (I used a mix of 300 grams T65 flour + 170 grams organic T110 flour)
  • 10 grams (1/3 ounce) salt (I used coarse grey salt from Guérande)
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (I use the SAF brand)
  • 350 grams (12 1/3 ounces) water, at room temperature
  • Cornmeal or extra flour for dusting


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and yeast. Pour in the water, and mix with your hand or a wooden spoon until combined. The dough should feel wetter than ordinary bread doughs, but it should come together into a shaggy ball. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature (about 20°C or 70°F) for 12 to 18 hours (some extend that time to 20 or even 24 hours with good results). The dough is ready when it has roughly doubled in size and the surface is covered with little bubbles. When you tip the bowl gently to one side, the dough should slide slowly and have a stringy consistency.
  2. Turn the dough out on a well-floured surface. Pull gently on both sides and gather the flaps one over the other to fold the dough in three. Give it a quarter of a turn and fold it in three again. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 15 minutes as you clean the mixing-bowl and grease it lightly. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in the greased mixing-bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for another 2 hours.
  3. Place a medium cast-iron pot in the oven (use a pot with a handle that can take the heat without melting) and preheat to 230°C (450°F) at least 30 minutes before baking. When the dough has finished its second rise, remove the pot from the oven (does anyone need to be reminded that hot oven = hot pot?), remove the lid (hot pot = hot lid), and sprinkle flour or cornmeal over the bottom of the pot. Transfer the dough into the pot, sprinkle the top with flour or cornmeal, cover with the lid, and return to the oven.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid, remove the (hot) lid, and bake for another 15 minutes, until beautiful and golden and irresistible. Transfer to a rack to cool for about 45 minutes before slicing (the water content needs to settle evenly throughout the loaf: if you slice it too soon, the crumb may be rubbery).


  • Adapted from a recipe by Jim Lahey written up by Mark Bittman in the New York Times on November 8, 2006.
  • Do watch the accompanying video.

Unless otherwise noted, all recipes are copyright Clotilde Dusoulier.

No-Knead Bread Recipe | Chocolate & Zucchini (2024)


What causes zucchini bread not to rise? ›

The bread was sinking in because the leavening was wrong. It seems likely that the amounts of baking powder and baking soda were switched. Where you were using 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, the actual measure should be 1 tablespoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

Should you squeeze water out of zucchini for bread? ›

Squeezing is optional.

But unless your zucchini is excessively juicy, squeezing the squash could be removing some of the moisture you really do want in the bread. It's up to you, though. Squeeze for lighter, drier bread. Leave it as is for denser, moister bread.

Do you have to peel zucchini for bread? ›

There's no need to peel the zucchini or remove the seeds. You also shouldn't press or squeeze any of the excess moisture out of it. You want all that to go into the bread!

Why do you put zucchini in bread? ›

In baking, consider zucchini as an ingredient similar to bananas or applesauce. It adds a wonderful texture and moistness to baked goods, and helps bulk up cakes and breads and muffins with a boost of nutrition, too! Zucchini has such a mild flavor that it pairs beautifully with everything from cinnamon to chocolate.

What happens if you put too much baking powder in zucchini bread? ›

Using too much baking soda or baking powder can really mess up a recipe, causing it to rise uncontrollably and taste terrible.

What do I do if my bread doesn't rise enough? ›

Increasing the temperature and moisture can help activate the yeast in the dough so it rises. You can also try adding more yeast. Open a new packet of yeast and mix 1 teaspoon (3 g) of it with 1 cup (240 mL) of warm water and 1 tablespoon (13 g) of sugar. Let the yeast mixture proof for 10 minutes.

How many zucchinis is 2 cups grated? ›

A medium zucchini will result in approximately 1 cup of shredded zucchini. If you happen to be using a larger zucchini and the seeds are large, cut the zucchini lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds.

Why do you soak zucchini in salt water? ›

Salt causes zucchini rounds to release excess water. This important extra step helps the zucchini to sauté rather than stew in its own juices.

Why is my zucchini bread falling apart? ›

The most common reason for zucchini breadand other quick breads (and cakes) to collapse as they cool is the ingredients are too vigorously or quickly mixed, which incorporates lots of less stable air bubbles into the batter.

What can I use instead of baking soda in zucchini bread? ›

If you don't have baking soda, you can use baking powder, at three times what the recipe calls for. So if a recipe calls for one teaspoon of baking soda, you can use three teaspoons of baking powder. Baking powder also contains a little bit of salt, so it's also a good idea to halve the salt the recipe calls for.

Should zucchini bread be cool before removing from pan? ›

Don't leave the loaf in the pan too long – Once you remove the bread from the oven, let it sit for 10 to15 minutes. But after that, it should be turned out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling. Otherwise, the edges can get a little too done in the still-hot pan.

Why doesn't zucchini bread taste like zucchini? ›

Zucchini adds flavorless moisture. We're talking pure moisture with zero savory vegetable flavor. I don't think I would bake a cake with a green vegetable if I could taste it. You bake carrot cake, right?

What size zucchini is best for baking? ›

Select small to medium zucchini for baking. Smaller, younger zucchini has more flavor, is less watery, and less seedy than giant specimens. When you use smaller zucchini you get more peel in your batter, too, which adds flavor, texture, and pretty green flecks to breads and cakes.

How do you drain zucchini for zucchini bread? ›

Drain the zucchini: Place the grated zucchini in a sieve or colander over a bowl to drain any excess moisture. If the grated zucchini seems to be on the dry side, sprinkle water over it as it's in the colander, then let it drain.

Why is my zucchini bread so flat? ›

But a common problem bakers face is flat zucchini bread. Food chemist Shirley Corriher suggests making sure the baking powder is fresh -- and using less leavening. There are few things more confounding or vexing in the kitchen than a dish gone wrong.

Why is my bread suddenly not rising? ›

Most rise issues are yeast issues: bad yeast, something in the mix is killing or inhibiting the yeast (chem in water for example). You can test your yeast by adding it to 1/2 cup of water (bottled, no chem added water if you suspect your water) with a pinch of sugar.

Why didn't my zucchini muffins rise? ›

There are a couple of reasons why your zucchini muffins may not have risen. If you used old leavening agents you may have issues with rising, so be sure to use fresh ingredients. If you didn't squeeze the zucchini to remove the excess moisture, this can also cause the muffins not to rise.

What affects bread rising? ›

Some breads will take longer than others to rise and this can be due to many factors such as temperature, ingredients and even the water temperature used. Check the liquid added to the dough is not over 37°C or it may kill off some of the yeast, similarly check the yeast is not too old or stale and inactive.


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