No knead bread 101: Michael Smith vs Olive & Gourmando baker home recipes

No knead bread - Eric Girard\'s homemade recipe

Bread machine and kneading are obsolete with the latest crave for no-knead bread recipe. Since the New York Times published an innovative No knead bread recipe last November adapted from Jim Lahey’s recipe at Sullivan Street Bakery, everyone made its own version.

I discovered the technique a couple months ago while watching a TV series called A la di Stasio. This show is very popular in Quebec. The recipe was given by Eric Girard, the baker of the hip and popular Olive & Gourmando bakery-café located in Old-Montreal. I was hooked.

Last week, one of my favorite chefs Micheal Smith published its No-knead bread recipe in its newsletter. Michael Smith made a normal size loaf recipe plus a larger loaf recipe, which is handy when you are entertaining. His recipe is for the more nutritious multi-grain bread. The whole wheat no-bread recipe is something different than the rest.

Basically, the three recipes are quite similar. The no-knead bread technique works on the principle that the dough has to rest for 12 to 18 hours instead of kneading it. Yeast needs time to create its magic.

While I was watching A la di Stasio, Eric Girard talked about small details that make a difference. So I want to share them with you. Moisture is crucial to activate the yeasting process. Since summer is a more humid period, the dough can rest only 12 hours. If you live in Canada and anywhere other than the south, plan for an 18-hour resting period the rest of the year.

If you use organic bread flour, you need to adjust the water quantity as the organic bread flour is more or less absorbent (I do not recall which) than an all-purpose flour.

Bread flour has more gluten, more protein and minerals than all purpose flour. Bread flour will expand more which is what you are looking for in breads. Apparently, white all-purpose flours in Canada have a higher gluten content than the United Stated. So it is something to take into account.

Micheal Smith\'s bread recipe

Whole-wheat bread flour raises less. I think this fact explains why Michael Smith recipe calls for a second round of yeast raising for about 2 to 3 hours. Most whole wheat bread recipes suggest using some part of white flour. That is what Michael Smith’s recipe does in its recipe.

To give you an idea of Micheal Smith’s Real bread recipe, here is the list of the ingredients for a normal loaf:

  • 2 cups of all-purpose or bread flour
  • 1 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup of any multi-grain mix
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 5/8 cups of warm water

I just bought a bag of organic whole wheat bread flour. I like to hear from you if you give Micheal Smith’s Real Bread recipe a try. A link to the complete recipe is at the end of my post.

Eric Girard’s no knead bread recipe (Pain Maison)

I translated Eric Girard’s homemade bread recipe. This is the no knead bread recipe he does at home. This is not the bread he bakes at Olive & Gourmando.


  • 3 cups organic bread flour or organic all purpose bread
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 – 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup of bran flour for dusting
  • A very hot preheated round Dutch oven – cast iron or enamel

In a bowl, mix the flour, the yeast and the salt. Add water and slowly mix with your hand until you form a ball with the dough. Gently deposit the dough in a large bowl and put a plastic wrap to cover the bowl. Leave it to rest 12 hours in summer, 18 hours in winter.

Preheat the oven at 500 °F (250 °C). Heat the Dutch oven for 30 minutes in the oven with the lid on.

Lightly flour a work surface with the bran flour and place dough on it. Fold the dough towards the center in four folds to form a navel.

Be careful and remove the Dutch pot from the oven. Deposit the bread with the navel below. Put the lid on and cook at 500 °F (250 °C) for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for another 10 minutes. This will create a nice colored crust. Let the bread cool on a grill. Enjoy your masterpiece!

The links to the two other recipes are below. I will like to know which one of the three recipes you prefer?

Link: No-Knead Bread recipe in the New York Times
Link: Real bread recipe by Michael Smith
Link: Pain maison by Eric Girard shown at A la di Stasio TV show

+ Follow-up to No Knead Bread 101

  • kevin
    April 28, 2007 at 10:29

    Just FYI, we’re working with no-knead bread over at this month.

  • At Home with kim vallee
    April 28, 2007 at 12:00

    Thank you Kevin for the facts that I found on your Web site.

    It leads me to start a follow-up story that I will publish in the coming hour.

  • virginia
    June 27, 2007 at 21:19

    i use 2 have a recipe 4 no knead bread but u didn’t have 2let it set u just put it in a pan baked it. it turned out great. this u can make it in ur bread machine w/ no waiting

  • blanche james
    September 21, 2008 at 09:06

    I have been making the no-knead bread and love it! Would it be workable and as successful to scale the recipe up to make a larger bread? I will try it, but thought that I would ask you your opinion first. Thank you.

  • At Home with Kim Vallee
    September 21, 2008 at 10:13

    Blanche: The amount of salt and yeast may need so fine tuning. Trial and error is the only way to go with recipes. Keep me posted of your results.

  • Marinus
    May 27, 2009 at 12:29

    I’ve been experimenting with this recipe and it really works very well, especially in a glass pyrex pot (use a bit of oil and course corn meal to prevent sticking) but since I’m a forgetful person we often ended up without bread, because I forgot to make dough the night before.

    So here is a quicker method:

    Use a little more lukewarm water (ratio 2 cups water to 3 cups wholewheat flour) and add half a squeezed lemon or lime to the water. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar to the flour (to jump start the yeast) and use more yeast, about 1.5 tea spoons.
    In this way the dough will be ready in about 3 hours. It requires only a little kneading, just a minute or two. After that, put it in your pot and let it sit in a warm place for another half hour. Bake as in the original recipe.

    You can add sunflower seeds, walnuts, even peanuts, but do so after the first rising, by kneading them into the dough.

    So, the differences for the quick version are:
    – add lemon juice
    – use 1.5 teaspoons of yeast
    – add 1 tablespoon of sugar

    Good luck!

  • elizabeth bowen
    April 2, 2010 at 17:49

    I have made several variations of this bread and love it! I’ve tried both white flour with mixed grains as well as straight whole wheat. One fav is “seed” bread where I mix in an amount of pumpkin seeds, flax seeds sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. I mix them in with the flour at the start with good results. I have been adding a couple of teaspoons of sugar. WOuld like to know what purpose the lemon juice serves? (from reply above)