multi-grain No-Knead Bread

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Multigrain No-Knead Bread

From the collection
Yield 1 loaf


Seasoned baker Ellen Jackson combined whole-grain flours and seeds with the principles of No-Knead Bread to come up with this loaf. Though the famous Sullivan Street Bakery bread calls for instant yeast, Jackson recommends blooming, or proofing, active dry yeast for her loaf.


2 cups lukewarm water
½ tsp. active dry yeast
2 Tbsp. barley-malt syrup, honey, or molasses (see Note)
2 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1 cup light rye flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sesame seeds, lightly toasted
¼ cup sunflower seeds, lightly toasted
2 Tbsp. flaxseeds
~ Wheat bran or cornmeal


  1. Combine the water, yeast, and sweetener in a large bowl. Allow the yeast to bloom (proof) while, in another bowl, you combine the flours with the salt and the seeds.
  2. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the yeast mixture and stir until blended with a wooden spoon; the dough will be extremely sticky and shaggy. Cover the bowl with a cloth or piece of plastic wrap and let it rest between 12 and 20 hours at room temperature. The dough is ready when its surface is speckled with air bubbles.
  3. Lightly flour a work surface and place the dough on it. Dust the top of the dough with some more flour and fold it over on itself a couple of times. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it sit 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, line a large bowl or colander with a cotton kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and generously coat it with wheat bran or cornmeal.
  5. Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers, pick up the dough and gently and quickly shape it into a ball. Put the ball into the prepared kitchen towel, seam-side up. (It’s OK if it looks messy and/or misshapen.) Cover the dough with another flour-dusted towel and let it rise for 1½ hours.
  6. After 1½ hours, place a 6-to-8-quart heavy pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex, or ceramic) in the oven and preheat to 475 degrees. Let the dough rise for another 30 minutes while the oven is preheating.
  7. The dough is ready to bake when it has more than doubled in size and springs back lazily when poked. Carefully remove the hot pot from the oven. Slip your hand under the kitchen towel holding the dough, so that you are cradling the loaf in your palm. In one sure, confident motion, flip the dough into the pot, with the seam side headed for the bottom.
  8. Using potholders — remember, the pan is hot — shake the pot to straighten out or redistribute the dough if necessary. Cover the pot with a lid, return it to the oven, and reduce the heat to 450 degrees.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and rotate the pan. Bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes, until the loaf is deeply browned. If you’re uncertain whether the bread is done or not, carefully turn the loaf out of the pan; if the bottom is quite dark (just short of burned) and sounds hollow when you thump or knock it, it’s ready.
  10. Cool on a rack before slicing.


Look for barley-malt syrup in the baking or health-food section of the store, near the molasses and honey. With a color somewhere between honey and molasses, it has greater depth of flavor and less sweetness, enhancing the yeasty, malty flavor of bread.

Store whole-grain flours in the freezer unless you use them within four to six weeks. Like nuts, seeds should be refrigerated to prevent them from becoming rancid.

Read more about Ellen Jackson’s bread experiments in “All you knead.”

chicken tikka

This content is from the Ellen Jackson collection.

There are 29 comments on this item
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24% recommend this recipe
1. by Pauline Kenny on Jun 20, 2008 at 4:18 PM PDT

Thank you for this great recipe. I tried it today and got a great loaf of bread. I have been looking for a whole wheat bread recipe that was not as “dense” as it sometimes can be. This one is perfect!

2. by Caroline Cummins on Nov 10, 2008 at 12:02 PM PST

I find that I like this bread cooked a little less — after removing the lid, I cook it just 15 to 20 minutes more. I appreciate the fact that this recipe uses a greater amount of flour than the original Lahey recipe, resulting in a bigger loaf. And the flavor is great.

3. by anonymous on Dec 12, 2008 at 7:49 PM PST

I have 2 questions:
1) I don’t understand how it is possible to use an extra cup of flour, compared to the Lahey recipe, but the same amount of water and have things turn out okay?
2) Is it possible to substitute or add millet? I like millet in multi-grain bread but don’t know whether to add it raw or cooked and in what quantity?

4. by Ellen on Dec 13, 2008 at 8:25 AM PST


In answer to your questions:
1) Actually, the ratio of wet to dry is the same in both recipes. My version calls for 2 cups of water and 4 cups of flour, while Lahey’s contains 1 1/2 cups water and 3 cups flour--both represent a 1:2 ratio. In fact, it’s interesting that they work similarly since the flours I’ve substituted tend to absorb more liquid.

2) As far as using millet, I’d begin with millet flour. Rather than adding it to the existing recipe, swap equal amounts with either the whole wheat or rye. For instance, take out 1/2 cup rye flour and substitute 1/2 cup millet flour. Try a greater proportion if the flavor isn’t pronounced enough.

If you want to add whole millet, experiment with cooked, well-drained millet treating it as an addition (like the seed mixture) rather than a substitution. And do keep in mind that it contains additional moisture in its cooked state. Add in small increments (up to 1/4 cup to start) and increase slowly until you’re pleased with the flavor and texture.

Good luck.

Ellen Jackson

5. by anonymous on Dec 14, 2008 at 9:50 AM PST

What a great recipe! I lot of good ingredients - if you don’t have that many things around and still want to try the no-knead method, I created a website at complete with pictures that illustrate each step. I also have metric equivalents.

6. by Ingrid @ The Grandma Blog on Feb 18, 2009 at 3:00 PM PST

This sounds fabulous! I love that it’s no knead!

My arthritis makes it more difficult to knead bread all the time!

Ingrid :)

7. by Angie on Apr 1, 2009 at 10:52 AM PDT

Does the pan require greasing/oiling? Also, is it possible to use only whole wheat flour (no white)?

8. by Ellen on Apr 17, 2009 at 3:29 PM PDT

It isn’t necessary to grease the pan since it is incredibly hot; the crust begins to form almost immediately on hitting the pan.

If you want to replace white wheat flour with whole wheat, the single most important thing to remember is that the flour must be as fresh as possible to give it a sweet nutty flavor. If you can mill it and use it the same day, you’re set!

Replace white wheat for whole wheat flour cup for cup. Whole wheat is slightly lighter, so add 1 cup + 1 tablespoon for every cup of white wheat flour you are replacing. And for every cup of whole wheat flour used, add 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons water.

These guidelines come from Rose Levy Berenbaum, whom I trust implicitly. Good luck!

9. by Rebeca Torres Rose on Apr 19, 2009 at 7:45 AM PDT

I don’t have barley malt syrup and, while I do have molasses, I haven’t been crazy about the flavor they impart to other dishes. Would it be possible to use agave syrup as the sweetener?

10. by Ellen on Apr 19, 2009 at 9:06 AM PDT

Agave would be fine, though the idea isn’t necessarily to sweeten the loaf; the barley malt adds to the nutty flavor of the grains and seeds. If you’re game, I’d recommend trying 1 tablespoon of agave and 1 tablespoon of molasses. Or try all agave, to see if you like the overall flavor. If it’s too sweet, or difficult to detect, the recipe won’t be affected by leaving the ingredient out.

11. by Lara Adler on Apr 23, 2009 at 6:15 PM PDT

This looks amazing! I’ll just have to fit the 20 hour resting time into my weekend plans. This sounds like a perfect way to start a Saturday AND a Sunday. I have sorghum syrup on hand, and am going to give that a try... similar taste to molasses, minus the slightly bitter taste.

12. by Jean Gogolin on May 13, 2009 at 5:33 PM PDT

I’ve begun putting the dough for no-knead bread on parchment paper for its second rise, which works beautifully. When it’s ready to bake, just pick up the parchment paper and dough together and put them in the hot pot.

13. by Ellen on May 14, 2009 at 8:54 AM PDT

What a great idea! That’s how I get my pizza dough from counter to baking stone (I shape and top it on the parchment), but it hadn’t occurred to me to use the trick for no-knead. Thanks!

14. by Elizabeth on Jan 30, 2010 at 12:26 PM PST

Hi I’ve been using a hot cereal mix to provide the multi-grains, as recommended by Cook’s Illustrated. What would you recommend for balancing the liquids in this adaptation? The Cook’s Illustrated has you soak the raw cereal in 2x boiling water (iC cereal, 2C boiling water) - I had been using the same ratio you, and the original Leahy recipe, indicate. But add that to all the liquid in the cooked cereal and it looks like a big mess! I’ve just set my first batch to rise in a warm room, with 2C water in the cereal, 1 1/2 C milk (which I use instead of water to sneak calcium into my children) and 3C flour - all purpose/multi grain. then added 1/2 C flour b/c it was so wet. Thoughts?!

And 1TB wheat gluten to help combat the “hockey puck” pheomenon. Any thoughts on gluten?

Thanks! I guess I’ll know more tommorow . . . .

15. by Ellen on Feb 7, 2010 at 5:29 PM PST

If I’m understanding correctly, by substituting the cereal that has been soaked in a 2:1 ratio of water to cereal, you’ve got far too much liquid in your final product. You want a 1:2 liquid to dry ratio and yours is approaching 1:1. Try soaking the cereal in the milk and using water when you’re making the dough. You’ll have to experiment adding 1/4 cup at a time.

You’ll have difficulty dodging the hockey puck bullet with so much whole grain. Check out my comment above (8.) for tips on using 100% whole grain for your dry ingredients.

Good luck. Let me know how you fare.

16. by Nicolette Hahn Niman on Apr 6, 2010 at 9:47 AM PDT

I have been making Lahey-method bread regularly for about the past six months, averaging about three per month. I always use at least 2/3 whole grain flour and have experimented with adding flax seeds, flax meal, oat meal, etc. I don’t proof the yeast, I just do it exactly as Lahey advises, with cool water. I add slightly more yeast and a little more water than his whole wheat recipe calls for (which has only 1/3 whole wheat), and it works perfectly every time.

17. by anonymous on Apr 22, 2010 at 12:22 PM PDT

I was looking for a no knead whole wheat bread, and this one looks great. But my mom is not allowed to eat rye. If I substitute rye flour with whole wheat, do I have to make any other changes?
Thank u in advance

18. by Caroline Cummins on Apr 22, 2010 at 3:09 PM PDT

Elsa --

You can easily substitute other flours for the rye, including whole wheat. Good luck!


19. by anonymous on Jun 9, 2010 at 7:46 PM PDT


This sounds great, I want to try this recipe out. But there is no amount noted for “Wheat bran or cornmeal.” How much do I put in? Thanks.

20. by Caroline Cummins on Jun 10, 2010 at 10:26 PM PDT

Anonymous --

The wheat bran or cornmeal is just for dusting the hot pan, so the dough doesn’t stick to it. A tablespoon of either should be plenty.

21. by anonymous on Dec 23, 2010 at 5:24 AM PST

I made bread following this recipe with great success. I’ve used the no-knead process several times, including others recipes using whole grain ingredients. My DH and I agree that this has outstanding flavor and texture, and is perhaps the best bread I’ve made -- ever! Thank you!!

22. by Ellen on Dec 23, 2010 at 2:24 PM PST

Thank YOU! I’m glad you’re enjoying the recipe; it’s a good one for adapting. Recently I’ve begun to introduce small amounts of other whole grains into the recipe (spelt, kamut and teff, for example) with great success. Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain has been my inspiration for experimentation.

23. by Sheila on Mar 8, 2011 at 5:05 PM PST

I have been making a multi grain variety of Jim Laheys bread but I simply use 1 cup of multigrain flour with 2 cups of the all purpose white flour and it comes out perfect every time. No need to measure extra ingredients and it is a hit with family and friends.
Any suggestions for a garlic & onion loaf to change things up

24. by Caroline Cummins on Mar 12, 2011 at 10:46 AM PST

Sheila —

I haven’t tried to turn the no-knead bread into a savory loaf, but I’m sure you could add, say, roasted garlic cloves and some sautéed onions to the dough with success.

You could also try Nick Malgieri’s recipe for focaccia bread with onions, olives, and anchovies.

25. by anonymous on Aug 11, 2012 at 10:50 AM PDT

Thanks for this recipe! I’d love to get some teff flour into this as well. How much have you had success with and do you swap it with the rye in a 1:1 ratio?

26. by Ellen on Aug 12, 2012 at 6:50 PM PDT

I’ve not substituted teff cup for cup as too much can result in a dry gritty texture in baked goods. I’d begin by swapping 1/2 cup teff for 1/2 cup of the whole wheat flour. Good luck, and please report back!

27. by Robin on Oct 24, 2012 at 8:18 AM PDT

Thanks for this recipe. I’ve had a lot of success with Lahey’s recipe but was looking to make a multigrain version that included malt syrup or molasses. I would like to try adding some oats, too, and would like your input. Should the oats be substituted for any of the flour or just added in? Do you think they will effect the moisture since they are absorbent?

28. by Moralmorel on Apr 16, 2013 at 3:29 PM PDT

Bought two cast iron loaf pans made by Lodge. Followed the recipe including putting the bread into the flour dusted towel in the bowl. After that stage by being very careful, i managed to half the dough with a dough scraper and some flour on the board and oil on my hands, shape the two halves roughly into a loaf shape. I dumped them into the pan and shaped them with my hand after they were in the pans.
When I preheated the pans, I covered the, with two heavy gauge loaf pans so I still had the oven within an oven effect. It worked very well.
Prefer a regular loaf shape but the first round loaf I made looked like a text book photo. This is a fantastic recipe either way.

29. by Ellen Polzien on Apr 28, 2014 at 5:24 PM PDT

My partner is an ostomate who has trouble eating many seeds. Would it be possible to substitute cornmeal, oatmeal or steel-cut oats for all or part of the seeds in the recipe? If so, how much? Thanks.

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